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Assembly Passes Houghtaling, McKeon, & Downey Measure to Benefit New Jersey’s Native Plants

 (TRENTON) – Moving to better protect and preserve the health of New Jersey’s environment, Assembly Democrats sponsor a measure to raise awareness for and encourage the planting of vegetative species native to New Jersey.

“Plants that are native to New Jersey and the whole Northeast, such as Black-eyed Susans, royal ferns, and wild geraniums, offer enormous environmental and economic benefits,” said Assemblyman Eric Houghtaling (D-Monmouth), chair of the Agriculture Committee. “Native plants help conserve and filter water, provide habitats for wildlife, protect soil resources and reduce the costs and environmental impacts associated with pesticides and fertilizers. It makes sense to prioritize native vegetation when planting in the Garden State.”

The bill (S-83/A-1580) sponsored by Assembly members Houghtaling, John McKeon (D-Essex, Morris), and Joann Downey (D-Monmouth) would create the “Jersey Native Plants Program” in the Department of Agriculture. The program would encourage and promote the sale of New Jersey native plants at retail garden centers and nurseries; increase consumer awareness of the important role of native plants in the ecosystem through advertising campaigns and marketing programs; provide for the dissemination of information about the variety and availability of New Jersey native plants; and create a labeling program to identify native plants as “Jersey natives” similar to the Jersey Fresh and Jersey Grown programs. The measure was passed by the full Assembly on Monday 69-0.

“Roughly one-third of New Jersey’s 2,100 native plant species are endangered or ranked as of special concern by the State’s Natural Heritage Program,” said McKeon. “Urbanization, pollution, and invasive plant species all harm our native plants. We must do all we can to preserve Jersey native plants and the benefits they bring to our environment.”

“New Jersey has many native plants that we want to protect and utilize to help our ecosystem grow and remain healthy,” said Downey.  “This bill will allow us to educate people about the wonderful plants New Jersey has to offer while also enhancing our environment.”