A third of all the crops that are harvested, including many Jersey Fresh fruits and vegetables that are now in season, depend on pollination by bees, butterflies and other animals and insects.

But because of insecticides and other factors, the bee population has dropped dramatically in recent years, which is why a new effort is underway in the Garden State to help pollinators flourish.

Healthy Pollination legislation is moving forward in Trenton that would establish “pollinator-friendly” labels for plants.

Assemblyman Eric Houghtaling, D-Monmouth, a prime sponsor of the legislation, said some non-native plants are crowding out native plant species, which is having a negative impact on the migration and lifecycle of pollinators.

“The state of New Jersey, we have so much property that we need to step up and try to create areas where we can have pollinators in a friendly environment," he said.

The legislation would create pollinator pathway designations for municipalities, direct the Department of Environmental Protection to establish a pollinator habitat program for closed landfills, establish leasing programs for state-owned land to be used and managed as pollinator habitat, and require the state Board of Agriculture to provide a list of environmentally harmful plant species to the Legislature every year.

He pointed out without pollination, “flowers would not be able to bloom, corn would not be able to grow — it is such a vital aspect of agriculture and the beauty that we have in nature.”

The Assembly Agriculture Committee has approved the legislation, which now will be considered by the full Assembly.

You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com

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