Environmental Advocates Hail Senate Budget Committee Passage of Bill to Preserve New Jersey School of Conservation

Leading New Jersey environmental advocates have released the following statements in response to the Senate Budget Committee’s passage of A3149, which would preserve the internationally recognized New Jersey School of Conservation by turning stewardship of the institution over to the non-profit Friends of the School of Conservation. The move clears the bill for final passage:

On behalf of the Friends of the New Jersey School of Conservation, we would like to thank Senator Bob Smith for his sponsorship of S438 and for his leadership in reporting it out of the Senate Budget and Appropriations committee. Its companion bill A 3149 recently passed the full Assembly with unanimous bipartisan support.

The Friends urge passage of S438, which transfers management of the New Jersey School of Conservation to the Friends of the New Jersey School of Conservation. Under a limited access agreement with the Department of Environmental Protection, the Friends have successfully been providing environmental education programming to the public for the past two years. The Friends have the knowledge, expertise, strategic funding plan, passion and commitment to the mission needed to continue management of the School.

– Kerry Kirk Pflugh, president, Friends, NJSOC

We are pleased that the Senate Budget Committee has taken a critical step forward in passing legislation to preserve the internationally recognized New Jersey School of Conservation by turning over stewardship to the Friends of the School of Conservation. When the School was threatened with permanent closure in the early days of the pandemic, the friends stepped in and continued to provide critical programming. They’ve worked tirelessly to bring the school back up to a state of good repair and have forged an impressive coalition of stakeholders ready to expand programming and research opportunities, with a special focus on children of color and others who have been traditionally excluded from outdoor education. We thank the sponsors for their strong advocacy on behalf of this legislation, and we call on the Senate to take the final step and quickly pass this bill and send it to Governor Murphy’s desk so the Friends can get to work.

– Ed Potosnak, Executive Director, New Jersey League of Conservation Voters

Thank you to Senator Smith and the committee for reporting out this important legislation to ensure the School of Conservation is well managed. Our future conservation leaders, from all backgrounds, are depending on quick passage by the full Senate.

– Jennifer M. Coffey, Executive Director, ANJEC

The NJ School of Conservation is an environmental and education oasis tucked into the rolling hills of Stokes State Forest. But its future has been tenuous throughout the pandemic after the school was left in the lurch with the sudden decision by Montclair State to pull funding in the early days of the pandemic. The Senate Budget vote today is a vote for a future where the NJ School of Conservation will be able to expand its vision of serving students and researchers across the state and place the responsibility of the school on its most steadfast champion — the Friends of the NJ School of Conservation. Environment New Jersey thanks the amazing leadership of the Friends of the New Jersey School of Conservation and the leadership of Sen. Bob Smith and Governor Dick Codey for being prime co-sponsors of this legislation. We urge speedy passage of the legislation in the State Senate on Wednesday and support from Gov. Murphy once it reaches his desk.

– Doug O’Malley, Director of Environment New Jersey.

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