Governor Phil Murphy today signed the Prescribed Burning Act (S2140/A1675), an important and long-overdue piece of legislation which the Pinelands Preservation Alliance has championed for many years!
The Pinelands is a very fire-prone and fire-dependent ecosystem. By promoting safe and ecologically-designed prescribed burning, this Act will make the Pinelands safer for people and property, while also helping to sustain the natural diversity of Pine Barrens plants and wildlife.
The Act will help the NJ Forest Fire Service do prescribed burning that best mimics natural wildfires, and it will help private landowners do prescribed burning on their own lands in accordance with rules and practices for safe burning set out by the Forest Fire Service. It will also allow the Forest Fire Service do burning and thinning on parcels that present a public fire danger due to lack of good management by absentee landowners.
By encouraging ecologically-based prescribed burning, the Act will the Forest Fire Service reduce the natural “fuels” of plant matter that accumulate, and make fires more dangerous when they do happen, because we typically stop wildfires from burning this fuel off.
These same prescribed fires will also help sustain the native Pine Barrens plant and wildlife diversity that is adapted to frequent, hot fires.
PPA has pressed for this legislation for many years, through several false starts and near misses by past governors and legislatures. The New Jersey Conservation Foundation and the New Jersey Audubon Society also worked very hard for this legislation. Persistence has paid off!
We are grateful to the governor and the key sponsors of this bill, Senators James Beach, Bob Smith and Kip Bateman, and Assembly members Ron Dancer, Herb Conaway, Marlene Caride and Parker Space.