Wildfire bill becomes law
TRENTON — Legislation sponsored by Assemblymen Ron Dancer and Parker Space allowing controlled burns of forests and open lands to protect against wildfires was signed into law.
“Pinelands wildfires have burned thousands of acres and forced thousands of people to be evacuated, putting them and wildlife at risk,” said Dancer. “Burning off dead brush and leaves helps prevent wildfires and their intensity. Allowing controlled burns is also excellent for the health of the environment. Lives, property and infrastructure will be protected.”
The New Jersey State Fire Service has a seasonal controlled burning program for state-owned property, including state forests, parks and wildlife management areas. Burns are usually conducted during late winter months and continue thru the end of March when weather conditions tend to be safer for controlled burns.
“This new law protects landowners’ rights while protecting the public from dangerous wildfires,” said Space (R-Sussex, Warren, Morris). “Expanding the use of safe and controlled burns also promotes a healthier forest environment by allowing for wildlife habitat management, forest disease and pest control and nutrient management.”
The Dancer-Space bill (A1675) establishes a process to permit landowners to conduct prescribed burns, and authorizes the Bureau of Forest Fire Management to conduct burns in any area of the state it determines is reasonably in danger of wildfire. Before doing so, it must give landowners 30 days’ notice. Landowners burning on their own property do not need to be certified.