Legislation sponsored by Assembly Republican Leader Jon Bramnick and Assemblywoman Nancy F. Muñoz allowing homeowners to create native habitats on their properties by planting native grasses, plants and trees was approved today by the full Assembly.
The Bramnick-Munoz bill (A1069) creates a private wildlife habitat certification program overseen by the Department of Environmental Protection. The DEP will authorize qualified organizations to inspect and certify properties that meet established standards. The participants are encouraged to add native plants, shrubs, trees and warm weather grasses to their properties. Once the property is certified, the homeowner is protected from violating nuisance ordinances pertaining to the height of the grasses.
They are also prevented from simply neglecting their yards allowing invasive plants to spread creating unsightly properties. The intention is to preserve New Jerseys native habitat, feed and shelter native birds, bees and butterflies and add a new dimension to the landscape.
“Eliminating the use of chemical fertilizers while giving homeowners an opportunity to return their yards to a more natural state benefits both our environment and homeowners who get to enjoy nature’s beauty,” said Muñoz (R-Union). “A once barren area of grass comes alive with nectar seeking bees and butterflies. It’s good for both the environment and homeowners.”
The inspiration for this legislation came about four years ago when Bramnick and his wife, Pat Brentano, an environmental artist worked closely with the stewardship department of New Jersey Audubon to create a wildlife habitat on their property.
Beds of flowering native plants, shrubs and trees were added to their backyard to benefit butterflies and pollinators. Warm weather grasses were planted in a bed in the middle of the front lawn to feed and shelter native birds. Although grass, ivy and ornamental trees and shrubs still exist on their property, a balance has been achieved between a native habitat and the suburban yard.