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Access to Tidal Waterways Statewide in NJ

05 • 03 • 2019

Access to Tidal Waterways Statewide in NJ

The Jersey Shore Chapter is supporting statewide legislation to re-establish the authority of the NJ Department of Environmental Protection to enforce the Public Trust Doctrine regarding access to tidal lands and waterways.

After two previous sets of rules on public access to tidal waterways were struck down by courts in NJ, the Legislature embarked on a process to bring all stakeholders together to codify the Public Trust Doctrine into a law to ensure access to beaches and other tidal lands. The process took over a year but the result was NJ Senate bill S. 1074, which the NJ chapters support. If passed, this bill would be superior to previous laws on public access because this one actually incorporates the Public Trust Doctrine into the law, while carving out exceptions for access to sensitive facilities, airports, and Homeland Security-type areas.  

Update - on May 3, 2019 NJ Governor Phil Murphy signed this bill into law thereby codifing into NJ law the Public Trust Doctrine. Chapter blog post here -  News story here -

This is a significant win for the environment in NJ because those previous sets of state rules on public access to waterways had parts of them nullified by the courts. By putting the Public Trust Doctrine into a stautue there will be fewer chances to keep the public off public beaches. 

The Jersey Shore Chapter was the main proponent of this but the South Jersey Chapter certainly did help. Every major environmental group in the state worked on and supported this legislation.