News Flash

Environmental Issues

Posted on: May 19, 2023

Christmas Tree Bonfire Bill Advances

On Monday, the Senate Environment and Energy Committee advanced S-861, legislation that would allow municipalities to conduct an annual event for the open burning of Christmas trees.  

Municipalities throughout the state have hosted community events centered on a bonfire using discarded Christmas trees. These events have become tremendous economic drivers for the local economy and provide a fundraising opportunity for local causes, including, most predominantly, volunteer fire departments.  

Current law prohibits the opening burning of refuse which, according to NJ Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) regulations, includes Christmas trees. Although the DEP has issued waivers for these events in the past, there has been recent reluctance by the DEP to allow this tradition to continue. The inconsistent and sporadic nature of DEP’s issuance of these waivers put these events at risk. 

Clinton Town Mayor and League Past President, Janice Kovach, testified before the Senate Committee, where she was able to provide a firsthand account of her town’s bonfire tradition and its continued importance to her community.  

S-861 was reported favorably out of committee with amendments that require the municipality to ensure that the Christmas trees used in the bonfire are free from lights and other decorations.    

Contact: Frank Marshall, Esq., Associate General Counsel, fmarshall@njlm.org, 609-695-3481, x137. 

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