As long as they live in New Jersey or are stationed here, access to any state beach would be completely free for military personnel and veterans, under legislation that has a chance to become law before summer 2019 gets into full swing.

"Many served on the hot sands of the Middle East, the forbidding mountain passes of Afghanistan, or the steaming jungles of Vietnam," said Assemblyman Anthony Bucco, R-Morris, a sponsor of the measure. "They paid us with sweat and blood, and should not be charged for a beach badge to enjoy the shores they defended."

According to the state Department of Environmental Protection, the beaches potentially impacted by the measure include:

  • Atsion Recreation Area
  • Bass River
  • Belleplain
  • Cheesequake
  • High Point State Park
  • Hopatcong State Park
  • Island Beach State Park
  • Parvin State Park
  • Ringwood State Park
  • Round Valley Recreation Area
  • Spruce Run Reservoir
  • Stokes State Forest
  • Swartswood State Park
  • Wawayanda State Park

The legislation does not apply to municipal beaches, but many municipalities already offer free admission to active military or both retired and active military members.

The bill, which would take effect immediately if signed into law, was approved by an Assembly committee in May. It's currently not on the list of bills to be considered by the full Assembly on June 10, and still awaits action in the state Senate.

"For me, this is a very easy one," Bucco said. "We shouldn't need legislation to provide it, but we have to and that's what we've done."

The legislation also grants free admission to state parks and forests. Current statute provides the perk for parks and forests to residents who are active members of the National Guard, individuals over 62 years old, and those who are totally disabled.

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