SENATE ENVIRONMENT AND ENERGY COMMITTEE

 

STATEMENT TO

 

SENATE, No. 1732

 

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

 

DATED:  MARCH 7, 2016

 

      The Senate Environment and Energy Committee favorably reports Senate Bill No. 1732.

      This bill would establish an “Adopt a Monarch Butterfly Waystation” program in the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).

      This bill would authorize groups, organizations, businesses, and individuals to “adopt” assigned portions of State-owned lands to develop and maintain monarch butterfly waystations. The DEP would be responsible for, among other things, establishing criteria for the development of waystations and coordinating with program volunteers, public interest organizations, and government officials to arrange for the adoption of State-owned lands. Groups, organizations, businesses, and individuals who are interested in becoming program volunteers would notify the DEP.  Upon receipt of the request, the DEP would assign the program volunteer an appropriate portion of State-owned lands on which to develop a monarch butterfly waystation.  The DEP would then provide the program volunteer with information and instructions on how to develop and maintain the waystation.  Adoptions would last for one year, but could be renewed on an annual basis.

      The bill also requires the DEP, in consultation with the Department of Education and citizen, educational, and environmental groups, to prepare educational materials on the decline in the monarch butterfly population and the ways in which residents can create and conserve monarch butterfly habitats, and to distribute these materials to schools and public interest organizations.

      Under the bill, each program volunteer in the “Adopt a Monarch Butterfly Waystation” program would be required to sign a waiver to release all State and local government entities and employees from any liability for injury or damages caused or sustained while developing or maintaining a waystation. An “Adopt a Monarch Butterfly Waystation” program volunteer would not be considered a public employee or State employee for the purposes of the “New Jersey Tort Claims Act,” and would not be accorded any of the protections set forth in that act.

      The bill authorizes the DEP, counties, municipalities, and schools to accept donations of funds, supplies, or services for use in the “Adopt a Monarch Butterfly Waystation” program.