NJ Assembly Bill 4221 (Pinkin) is coming before the Environment Committee on Thursday, Feb 14. That bill and its Senate companion, S. 1074 (Smith/Bateman/Gopal), provides for the protection of the public’s rights to beach access under the Public Trust Doctrine.
We thank Assemblywoman Nancy J. Pinkin for championing this bill in the NJ Assembly and believe it will ensure everyone has access to tidal waterways and their shores in the state.
The American Littoral Society and other organizations have worked for years to protect public access to New Jersey beaches and tidal shorelines. This right is, unfortunately, often limited, interfered with or prevented throughout the state – from our ocean waters to the waterfronts of our cities and urban communities.
The ocean, coast and all lands flowed by tidal waters are held in trust for the public by the State. The protection of tidal waterways and their shores is important for a variety of reasons including tourism and recreation. It is the responsibility of the state, through the Public Trust Doctrine, to hold and protect these lands and waters in trust for the public.
The Legislature’s proposed action to codify state obligations and duties under the Public Trust Doctrine will strengthen efforts to ensure that the public has meaningful access to, and use of, the shoreline, tidal waters and other areas subject to the Public Trust Doctrine.
"Without this codification of the Public Trust Doctrine, municipalities and private landowners will continue their attempts to limit parking, close off access points, and restrict the public from enjoying beaches and waterfronts, which case law indicates they have a right to access" said Tim Dillingham, Executive Director of the American Littoral Society. "This legislation will make sure people everywhere can enjoy this right."
The pending bill will provide authority to address chronic problems limiting public access to tidal waters throughout New Jersey, and provide needed policy direction to the Department of Environmental Protection.
The Society looks forward to this bill advancing out of committee and being approved by the NJ Assembly.