New law requires native plants along N.J. highways

     Ocean County Soil Conservation District image.

    Ocean County Soil Conservation District image.

    Drive along any New Jersey state highway during the spring and the welcome sight of budding vegetation is a sight for sore eyes after the barren winter months.

    Soon, thanks to legislation signed into law by Governor Chris Christie, the highway vegetation will be native to New Jersey.

    The Senate bill requires the state Department of Transportation, Turnpike Authority, and the South Jersey Transportation Authority to utilize only native vegetation for landscaping, land management, reforestation, and habitat restoration.

    According to the legislation, the required plantings will not be invasive and thus require less care.

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    The agencies are required to comply with the law within 180 days of the governor’s signing. It also requires the state Department of Environmental Protection to compile a list of native vegetation within 90 days. 

    Another bill signed by Christie allows for the development of integrated vegetation management plans that take into consideration climate, erosion, and weed control, scenic quality, wildlife habitats, and utility easements. 

    Environmentalists welcome the new laws. 

    “We’ve allowed the sides of our roads to be clogged with invasive species of plants that can clog storm drains, create flooding, or hurt the environment. It’s important to start to properly manage the areas along New Jersey’s thousands of miles of road,” said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “Theses bill will help to deal with erosion, air pollution, water pollution, invasive species, and beautify our roads as well.”

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