Legislation Assembly Democrats Whip Wilson and Celeste Riley sponsored to help stem the tide of invasive plants harmful to New Jersey’s farming industry was released Thursday by an Assembly committee.
The bill (A-1305) would require that whenever any state entity plants vegetation for purposes of land management, reforestation or habitat restoration, the state entity would be required to plant only vegetation that is native to the area being planted.
In addition, when purchasing vegetation for such purposes, the state entity would be required, to the maximum extent possible, to purchase only from businesses located in New Jersey.
“This is a bill that, quite simply, is all about protecting New Jersey farmers and businesses,” said Wilson (D-Camden/Gloucester). “Invasive plants can prove destructive and cost farmers income, thus hurting our economy. Requiring the state to use any native plants is common sense.”
“This is a simple step that will go a long way toward helping our agricultural community so vital to New Jersey’s economy,” said Riley (D-Gloucester/Salem/Cumberland). “In the end, this bill will protect New Jersey farms and businesses, both of which are key to a strong state. It does the right thing for everyone involved.”
Under the bill, the Department of Environmental Protection would be required to adopt rules and regulations necessary to implement the provisions of the bill, including rules and regulations that identify those particular species of vegetation that are native to each plant hardiness zone found within the state, as identified pursuant to the most recent edition of the Plant Hardiness Zone Map published by the United States Department of Agriculture.
When planting in any given plant hardiness zone, state entities would be required to plant only those species identified by the DEP rules and regulations as being native to that zone.
The bill was released by the Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee.