Burzichelli Bill to Protect & Celebrate New Jersey’s Natural Habitats Passes Assembly

(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrat John Burzichelli to protect and commemorate animals and plants that are native to New Jersey was approved, 76-0, by the General Assembly on Thursday.

The bill (A-3133), sponsored by Burzichelli, would require the commissioner of the Department of Environmental Protection to establish a private wildlife habitat certification program.

In establishing the program, the commissioner would be authorized to consider any standards used by recognized conservation organizations to certify properties as suitable wildlife habitat.

A person who registers a property certified under the program would be entitled to an affirmative defense against any liability for a violation of a municipal ordinance under which the “certified private wildlife habitat,” or any component thereof, is deemed a nuisance or an otherwise unlawful condition.

“Maintaining a balance between development and preservation of natural resources is especially important in a state as densely populated as ours,” said Burzichelli (D-Cumberland/Gloucester/Salem). “This bill allows interested individuals to create habitats on their private properties for animal species native to New Jersey without fear of legal repercussions.”

The Assembly Environment and Solid Waste Committee approved the measure last October.