Committee Clears Singer Bill that Would Preserve Privately-Owned Woodlands

Legislation sponsored by Senator Robert Singer that would establish a state program specifically for the acquisition of easements on privately-owned woodlands for preservation purposes was approved today by the Senate Environment and Energy Committee.

“In the most densely populated state in the country, it’s critical to protect and preserve forested areas and to manage them sustainably,” said Singer (R-30). “Decreases in forest land cover can affect the amount of habitat available for plant and animal species, as well as the ability of various forest species to interact with each other. This legislation will help prevent the overdevelopment of woodlands and protect our forests for future generations.”

According to the New Jersey State Forest Action Plan, which was published in December 2020, New Jersey’s forests cover approximately 40 percent of the total land area of the state, and almost half of the total amount of forested land within the state is in private ownership. The action plan notes that, while the amount of forest land has remained relatively stable since the 1970s, this trend is not expected to continue, as forested land area is under severe development pressure.

Under Singer’s bill, S-3863, a state program would be established with the goal of preserving woodlands and the benefits that they provide to the state. Landowners would not be required to provide public access to woodlands preserved by the program.

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