NEW JERSEY – Legislation sponsored by Senator Anthony M. Bucco that encourages homeowners and businesses to make their property more bee friendly cleared the Senate Environment and Energy Committee.
“New Jersey is the Garden State, but gardens don’t flourish without pollinators including bees,” said Bucco (R-25). “Unfortunately, our bee populations continue to fall at an alarming rate, which puts everything from home gardens to commercial agriculture at risk. This legislation encourages homeowners and businesses to install bee-friendly habitats to help stop the decline.”
Researchers at Rutgers University recently published a study that highlighted concerns about the sharp decline of bee populations in New Jersey. When bees lack the necessary habitats they require to survive, it can have severe impacts on the entire ecosystem as bees, certain insects, and even birds account for pollinating more than 80% of all plants.
Sen. Bucco’s bill, S-3643, establishes a pilot program within the New Jersey Department of Agriculture to offer reimbursement to homeowners and businesses for certain costs associated with converting their lawns and gardens into bee-friendly habitats.
The program would offer eligible homeowners up to $250 in reimbursement while businesses could receive up to $500. Under the bill, the Agriculture department would be required to develop a webpage with information about the pilot program, as well as guidelines and a list of plants that qualify homeowners and businesses to receive reimbursement.
Additionally, the department is instructed to deliver a report to the governor and the legislature within six months of completing the pilot program to highlight its success and the number of homeowners and businesses that received reimbursement.
The bill appropriates $1 million from the General Fund to establish this pilot program.
“Bees and other pollinators are essential for developing a healthy ecosystem that supports every aspect of our lives,” Bucco said. “This bill encourages New Jerseyans to develop a more habitable environment for bees to thrive in this state. That’ll be good for our environment, our economy, and for food security for New Jerseyans.”