[First Reprint]

SENATE, No. 1954

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

214th LEGISLATURE

 

INTRODUCED MAY 20, 2010

 


 

Sponsored by:

Senator  BOB SMITH

District 17 (Middlesex and Somerset)

 

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS

     Establishes forest harvest program on State-owned land.

 

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

     As reported by the Senate Environment and Energy Committee on June 3, 2010, with amendments.

  


An Act concerning forest harvest programs, supplementing 1[various parts of the statutory law] P.L.1983, c.324 (C.13:1L-1 et seq.)1 and amending P.L.1968, c.49 and P.L.1975, c.176.

 

     Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:

 

     1.    (New section)  a.  The Legislature finds and declares that forest lands: are critical to the environmental welfare of the State; provide natural habitats for wildlife, including threatened and endangered species; help clean and refresh the air by filtering dust and particulates; absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen, helping to moderate climate change; and help clean and protect the waters of New Jersey, promote replenishment of 1[aquifiers] aquifers1 , and stabilize soils.

     b.    The Legislature also finds and declares that forest lands are an irreplaceable component of the environment and worthy of conservation and stewardship; that forest lands must be managed in a manner that guarantees sustained and improved yields of forest benefits; and that the State’s forest lands are now seldom managed effectively due to a lack of resources, incentives and a viable market for forest products.

     c.     The Legislature further finds and declares that forest lands consist of a complex ecology; that, historically, natural disturbances such as large-scale fires occurring every 50 to 60 years, served to restart forest growth and allow the emergence of early successional forests, open space and grassy areas necessary for certain wildlife species; that allowing such large-scale fires or other natural disturbances to occur near existing homes and other development today would be detrimental to the citizens of New Jersey; and that management techniques that attempt to mimic such forest changing events in a controlled and sustainable manner are necessary to ensure the continued health and biodiversity of New Jersey’s forests.

     d.    The Legislature further finds and declares that it would be beneficial to foster sustainable management practices through the support of a market for low-grade wood; that such a market would encourage forest thinning operations, resulting in healthier forest ecosystems, faster forest growth, and a reduction of catastrophic fire risk; that, presently, reducing fire hazards and thinning forests is expensive, because there exists no viable economic market for forest products resulting 1[therefom] therefrom1 to pay for the processes; and that the creation of such a market would ensure a balance of mature and young forest areas necessary to accommodate the State’s diverse wildlife and the lifestyle that has developed in the region.

     e.     The Legislature further finds and declares that it is in the public interest to explore ways to create an economic market for forest products; that such products may serve as renewable biomass, which may be used to produce energy; and that such renewable sources of energy could reduce the use of coal and other fossil fuels, thereby reducing carbon emissions.

     f.     The Legislature further finds and declares 1[that a project which includes the thinning of up to 15,000 forested acres of the pinelands area may produce up to 300,000 tons of wood products annually;]1 that thinning the forests in State-owned land would provide much needed revenue to manage the State's parks and forests; that the establishment of a viable market for such products would create “green” jobs for the citizens of New Jersey and produce new revenue streams for the State; and that such a market may provide the support necessary to encourage responsible and sustainable forest stewardship throughout the State.

 

     1[2. (New section)  a.  The Pinelands Commission, in consultation with the Department of Environmental Protection, shall develop a forestry demonstration project to evaluate the practicability and feasibility of establishing sustainable forest management practices in the pinelands area supported by a viable forest products market and biomass energy industry in New Jersey.  During the development of the demonstration project, the Pinelands Commission shall consult with any other appropriate officials of local governments and State or federal agencies with jurisdiction over lands, waters and natural resources of the pinelands area, and with interested professional, scientific and citizen organizations. The demonstration project shall include forest management activities affecting up to 6,000 forested acres annually in the protection area and be conducted for a period of 10 years from the date of enactment of P.L.     , c.    (C.   ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill).

     In developing the demonstration project, the commission shall:

     (1)   identify, in consultation with the department, State-owned lands within the protection area on which the demonstration project will occur;

     (2)   ensure that forest activities conform to requirements of the Federal Act;

     (3)   authorize a combination of harvesting techniques; and

     (4)   ensure that forest activities conform to the "Pinelands Protection Act," P.L.1979, c.111 (C.13:18A-1 et seq.), and the comprehensive management plan.

     b.    The commission shall select a project manager to implement and supervise the demonstration project after public advertisements for bids therefor.  A contract shall be awarded to that responsible bidder whose bid, conforming to the invitation for bids, is most advantageous to the State.  The commission shall consider the price, ability to manage the duties required of the project manager pursuant to this section, and other factors.

     c.     The duties of the project manager shall include:

     (1)   developing a management plan consistent with the provisions of P.L.1979, c.111 and the comprehensive management plan;

     (2)   providing for the cutting and sale of wood;

     (3)   obtaining the best price for the harvested wood;

     (4)   obtaining all permits and approvals necessary to engage in forestry activities; and

     (5)   developing a strategy for the creation of a viable economic market for forest products, including, but not limited to, the processing of forest products into wood pellets or other forms useful in producing alternative energy.

     d.    The commission shall investigate the availability of, and apply for, funds from the federal government, or any private or public source, to finance any costs of the demonstration project.

     e.     The project manager shall annually prepare a written report concerning the demonstration project during the implementation of the demonstration project, and a final report within six months after its completion, which shall be submitted to the commission, the department, the Governor, the Legislature, pursuant to section 2 of P.L.1991, c.164 (C.52:14-19.1), and the Chairpersons of the Senate Environment and Energy Committee, and the Assembly Environment and Solid Waste Committee, or their successor committees.  The final report shall include but not be limited to an explanation of the procedures used in the project, a description of the locations of the forestry activities performed pursuant to this section, the number of tons of biomass harvested, the types of biomass harvested, the number of tons of biomass sold, the buyers of the biomass harvested, cost effectiveness of the management techniques used during the demonstration project, environmental problems encountered, an accounting of the costs of the project, and any other information the commission deems appropriate.

     f.     The commission shall prepare and submit a report to the Governor, the Legislature, pursuant to section 2 of P.L.1991, c.164 (C.52:14-19.1), and the Chairpersons of the Senate Environment and Energy Committee and the Assembly Environment and Solid Waste Committee or their successor committees, no later than one year following completion of the demonstration project.  The report shall describe the results of the demonstration project and shall include recommendations for further administrative or legislative action.]1

 

     1[3.] 2.1     (New section)  a.  The Department of Environmental Protection shall develop a forestry harvest program to provide for the harvest of forest products on State-owned lands for which a forest stewardship plan has been developed.  The harvest program shall allow forest management activities on State-owned land identified by the department.

     In developing the program, the department shall:

     (1)   identify State-owned lands for which a forest stewardship plan has been developed that are eligible for the harvesting of forest products;

     (2)   ensure that forest harvesting activities conform to any laws, rules and regulations regarding forest management activities;

     (3)   establish standards for the program for the cutting and sale of wood; and

     (4)   authorize a combination of harvesting techniques.

     b.    The commissioner shall select a project manager to implement and supervise the program after public advertisements for bids therefor.  A contract shall be awarded to that responsible bidder whose bid, conforming to the invitation for bids, is most advantageous to the State.  In awarding a contract, the commissioner shall consider the price, the ability to manage the duties required of the project manager pursuant to P.L.     , c.    (C.   ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill), and other factors.  The duration of a contract shall be five years.

     c.     The duties of the project manager shall include:

     (1)   1[developing] adopting1 a management plan 1, developed through a public process including a public notice, hearing, and comment period,1 consistent with the provisions of the forest stewardship plans for the State-owned lands identified by the commissioner pursuant to subsection a. of this section;

     (2)   providing for the cutting and sale of wood;

     (3)   obtaining the best price for the harvested wood;

     (4)   obtaining all permits and approvals necessary to engage in forestry activities;

     (5)   assuring that activities concerning the implementation of the forest stewardship plans on State-owned lands are consistent with the rules and regulations adopted pursuant to P.L.2009, c.256 (C.13:1L-29 et seq.); and

     (6)   developing a strategy for the creation of a viable economic market for forest products, including, but not limited to, the processing of forest products into wood pellets or other forms useful in producing alternative energy.

     d.    The department shall investigate the availability of, and apply for, funds from the federal government, or any private or public source, to finance any costs of the program.

     e.     All revenues for the program shall be deposited into a dedicated, nonlapsing special account within the Department of Environmental Protection.  Moneys in the account shall be used by the department only for the operation and management of the State's parks and forests.

     f.     The project manager shall annually prepare a written report concerning the program, which shall be submitted to the commissioner, the Governor, the Legislature, pursuant to section 2 of P.L.1991, c.164 (C.52:14-19.1), and the Chairpersons of the Senate Environment and Energy Committee and the Assembly Environment and Solid Waste Committee, or their successor committees.  The report shall include but not be limited to an explanation of the procedures used, a description of the locations of the forestry activities performed pursuant to this section, the number of tons of biomass harvested, the types of biomass harvested, the number of tons of biomass sold, the buyers of the biomass harvested, cost effectiveness of the management techniques used, environmental problems encountered, an accounting of the costs of the program, and any other information the commissioner deems appropriate.

 

     1[4.] 3.1     (New section)  a.  The annual appropriations act for each State fiscal year shall, without other conditions, limitations or restrictions, appropriate the program revenues to the special account as provided in subsection e. of section 1[3] 21 of P.L.     , c.    (C.   ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill) for use by the department for the purposes set forth therein.

     b.    If the requirements of subsection a. of this section are not met on the effective date of an annual appropriations act for the State fiscal year, or if an amendment or supplement to an annual appropriations act for the State fiscal year should violate any of the requirements of subsection a. of this section, the Director of the Division of Budget and Accounting in the Department of the Treasury shall, not later than five days after the enactment of the annual appropriations act, or an amendment or supplement thereto, that violates any of the requirements of subsection a. of this section, certify to the State Treasurer that the requirements of subsection a. of this section have not been met.

 

     1[5.] 4.1 Section 3 of P.L.1968, c.49 (C.46:15-7) is amended to read as follows:

     3.    a.  In addition to the recording fees imposed by section 2 of P.L.1965, c.123 (C.22A:4-4.1), a grantor shall pay to the county recording officer at the time the deed is offered for recording the following fees:

     (1)   A basic fee, which basic fee shall consist of (a) a State portion at the rate of $1.25 for each $500.00 of consideration or fractional part thereof recited in the deed, and (b) a county portion at the rate of $0.50 for each $500.00 of consideration or fractional part thereof so recited; provided however, that on and after the tenth day following a certification by the Director of the Division of Budget and Accounting in the Department of the Treasury pursuant to subsection b. of section 2 of P.L.1992, c.148 (C.46:15-10.2) [or] , subsubparagraph (ii) of subparagraph (b) of paragraph (2) of subsection b. of section 1 of P.L.1992, c.148 (C.13:19-16.1) as amended, or subsection b. of section  1[4] 31  of P.L.   , c.   (C.   ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill), the State portion of the basic fee shall not be imposed;

     (2)   An additional fee at the rate of $0.75 for each $500.00 of consideration or fractional part thereof recited in the deed in excess of $150,000.00; provided however, that on and after the tenth day following a certification by the Director of the Division of Budget and Accounting in the Department of the Treasury pursuant to subsection b. of section 2 of P.L.1992, c.148 (C.46:15-10.2) [or] , subsubparagraph (ii) of subparagraph (b) of paragraph (2) of subsection b. of section 1 of P.L.1992, c.148 (C.13:19-16.1) as amended, or subsection b. of section 1[4] 31  of P.L.   , c.   (C.   ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill), the additional fee shall not be imposed; and

     (3)   A general purpose fee at the rate of:

     (a)   $0.90 for each $500.00 of consideration or fractional part thereof recited in the deed that is not in excess of $550,000.00, except that in the case of a conveyance or transfer of property for which the total consideration recited in the deed does not exceed $350,000.00, no general purpose fee shall be imposed;

     (b)   $1.40 for each $500.00 of consideration or fractional part thereof in excess of $550,000.00 but not in excess of $850,000.00 recited in the deed;

     (c)   $1.90 for each $500.00 of consideration or fractional part thereof in excess of $850,000.00 but not in excess of $1,000,000.00 recited in the deed; and

     (d)   $2.15 for each $500.00 of consideration or fractional part thereof in excess of $1,000,000.00 recited in the deed.

     b.    A deed subject to any of the fees established by this section, which is in fact recorded, shall be deemed to have been entitled to recording, notwithstanding that the amount of the consideration shall have been incorrectly stated or that the correct amount of such fee shall not have been paid.  No such defect shall in any way affect or impair the validity of the title conveyed or render the same unmarketable; but the person or persons required to pay said additional fee at the time of recording shall be and remain liable to the county recording officer for the payment of the proper amount thereof.

(cf:  P.L.2008, c.31, s.2)

 

     1[6.] 5.1     Section 4 of P.L.1975, c.176 (C.46:15-10.1) is amended to read as follows:

     4.    a.  The following transfers of title to real property shall be exempt from payment of the State portion of the basic fee:

     (1)   The sale of any one- or two-family residential premises which are owned and occupied by a senior citizen, blind person or disabled person who is the seller in such transaction; provided, however, that except in the instance of a husband and wife no exemption shall be allowed if the property being sold is jointly owned and one or more of the owners is not a senior citizen, blind person or disabled person.

     (2)   The sale of low and moderate income housing.

     b.    Transfers of title to real property upon which there is new construction shall be exempt from payment, with respect to all consideration therefor up to $150,000.00, of 80% of the State portion of the basic fee.

     c.     (1) The director shall promulgate rules, regulations and forms of certification otherwise necessary to carry out the provisions of this section.

     (2)   No transfer shall be eligible for more than one exemption under this section.

     d.    The balance of the State portion of the basic fee and the additional fee collected on transfers subject to exemption under subsection b. of this section shall be remitted to the State Treasurer and shall be credited to the Neighborhood Preservation Nonlapsing Revolving Fund established pursuant to P.L.1985, c.222 (C.52:27D-301 et al.), to be spent in the manner established under section 20 thereof (C.52:27D-320).

     e.     Subsections a. through d. of this section shall be without effect on and after the tenth day following a certification by the Director of the Division of Budget and Accounting in the Department of the Treasury pursuant to subsection b. of section 2 of P.L.1992, c.148 (C.46:15-10.2) [or] , subsubparagraph (ii) of subparagraph (b) of paragraph (2) of subsection b. of section 1 of P.L.1992, c.148 (C.13:19-16.1) as amended , or subsection b. of section 1[4 of] 31  of P.L.   , c.   (C.   ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill).

(cf:  P.L.2008, c.31, s.3)

 

     1[7.] 6.1     This act shall take effect immediately.