Senator CHRISTOPHER "KIP" BATEMAN
District 16 (Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex and Somerset)
Senator RICHARD J. CODEY
District 27 (Essex and Morris)
Senators Corrado, A.R.Bucco and Greenstein
Establishes “Jersey Native Plants Program.”
CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT
An Act establishing the “Jersey Native Plants Program” and supplementing Title 4 of the Revised Statutes.
Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:
1. a. The Secretary of Agriculture in conjunction with the State Board of Agriculture shall develop and implement a “Jersey Native Plants Program” to encourage and promote the sale of New Jersey native plants at retail garden centers and nurseries. The program shall increase consumer awareness of the important role of native plants in the ecosystem through advertising campaigns and marketing programs, provide for the dissemination of information about the variety and availability of New Jersey native plants, and create a labeling program to identify native plants as “Jersey Natives” for sale similar to the Jersey Fresh and Jersey Grown programs.
b. The Department of Agriculture shall adopt, pursuant to the “Administrative Procedure Act,” P.L.1968, c.410 (C.52:14B-1 et seq.), rules and regulations to implement this act.
2. This act shall take effect immediately.
This bill would establish the “Jersey Native Plants Program” in the Department of Agriculture. The bill requires the department to develop a program that would: (1) encourage and promote the sale of New Jersey native plants at retail garden centers and nurseries; (2) increase consumer awareness of the important role of native plants in the ecosystem through advertising campaigns and marketing programs; (3) provide for the dissemination of information about the variety and availability of New Jersey native plants; and (4) create a labeling program to identify native plants as “Jersey natives” similar to the Jersey Fresh and Jersey Grown programs.
Native plant species are a vital part of New Jersey’s heritage, providing valuable aesthetic, economic, and ecological benefits to State residents. New Jersey possesses approximately 2,100 native plant species, a number that is comparable to states that are three to four times larger. This diverse native flora includes hundreds of different wildflowers, like violets and orchids, as well as many different trees, shrubs, grasses, and ferns. Nineteen globally rare plants have their largest or most viable populations in New Jersey, and nine plants have been documented only in New Jersey and do not occur anywhere else on Earth.
New Jersey’s floristic diversity is due in large part to its geographical diversity, which includes the mountainous Highlands in the north, the sandy Pine Barrens in the south, the rich Delaware River Valley in the west, and the salt marshes of the Atlantic Coast. Native fruits like the blueberry and the cranberry helped spur the development of the agricultural industry in New Jersey, and earned the State its official State slogan, the “Garden State.” New Jersey’s preserved open space and farmland, which make up close to a third of the State’s total acreage and contain most of the State’s native plant species, provide an estimated $20 billion per year in ecosystem goods and services.
Native plants are vital to the State’s biodiversity, which provide inhabitants with food, maintenance of water and air quality, waste decomposition and soil generation, nutrient cycling, climate stabilization, flood and erosion control, and medicines and pharmaceuticals. Native plants also provide food and shelter for native wildlife and insects, which in turn, perform essential ecological and agricultural services such as seed dispersal, predation, and pollination.
Studies have shown that New Jersey is rapidly losing its native plants, with roughly one-third of those plants designated as endangered or of special concern by the State’s Natural Heritage Program. Threats to native plants include habitat destruction caused by development and urbanization, pollution, and harmful invasive plant species.