Municipalities throughout the state have hosted community events centered on bonfires using discarded Christmas trees. These events have become 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 Assembly Committee, where she was able to provide a firsthand account of her town’s bonfire tradition and its continued importance to the community.
A-5460 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 and making it identical to Senate companion bill, S-861, which received committee approval last month.
Now that both bills have advanced out of committee, the League is hopeful that they will be posted for a full vote in the Assembly and Senate, respectively.
Contact: Frank Marshall, Esq., Associate General Counsel, firstname.lastname@example.org, 609-695-3481, x137.