New Jersey Revised Statutes § 13:1l-26 - Findings, Declarations Relative To Establishment Of Forest Health Advisory Council.

13:1L-26 Findings, declarations relative to establishment of Forest Health Advisory Council.
1.The Legislature finds and declares that trees and forests help clean and refresh the air by filtering dust and particulates and by absorbing carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen; that trees and forests also help clean the waters of the State, stabilize soils, provide shade, and furnish food and shelter to birds and other wildlife; and that the beautiful and majestic trees which form an integral part of the streetscapes of New Jersey's municipalities produce a calming effect and create a sense of peace and community.

The Legislature further finds and declares that oak trees are an historically important part of the landscape of New Jersey; that the red oak is the State Tree and the pin oak is one of the top five most commonly planted street trees in the State; and that oak trees, as well as other important tree species and forests, in New Jersey are now threatened by various pathogens.

The Legislature further finds and declares that Sudden Oak Death, a highly contagious and mysterious pathogen, discovered in California in 1995, represents a looming threat to New Jersey forests and poses a threat to every species of oak, redwood and Douglas fir in the country; that Sudden Oak Death, one of the most virulent forest epidemics ever to hit the United States, is caused by the deadly fungus-like algae, Phytophthora ramorum, which thrives in cool climates and is responsible for widespread tree mortality in central and northern California; and that while the disease originated in California, killing tens of thousands of oaks along the northern coast of that state, it now threatens forests in the East and South as well as California.

The Legislature further finds and declares that the potential eastward spread of this disease could wreak havoc to New Jersey's forests and ecosystems, due to the unprecedented capacity of this pathogen to spread very quickly; and that the disease is transmitted through the dispersal of microbes in nursery plants imported into the United States, through the interstate movement of plant materials, foliage, firewood, wood products, leaves, and soil, and through the movements of humans, insects and birds.

The Legislature further finds and declares that Bacterial Leaf Scorch is a disease caused by bacteria that clog the water transport vessels in a tree, thereby blocking the flow of water from roots to leaves and causing the leaves to scorch and die, leading to the decline and eventual mortality of the tree; that the economic impact of this disease could be devastating to the budgets of New Jersey's municipalities because the affected trees will need to be pruned and in many cases removed to address potential hazards caused by the disease; that the aesthetic impact of this disease also will be felt throughout New Jersey's affected municipalities as the character of neighborhoods change due to the removal of larger trees and their replacement with new trees that will take decades to grow to maturity; and that Bacterial Leaf Scorch will impact not only streetscapes but also traditional forests for which there will be a need to survey, sample, and monitor for this disease.

The Legislature therefore determines that studying and tracking the spread of these exotic pathogens, for which there are no known cures, and other forest health issues is critical to preventing a potential ecological disaster in New Jersey's forests and significant harm to the State's resource of community trees.


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Last modified: October 11, 2016