New Jersey's pleasant mid-May weather isn't stopping Garden State lawmakers from focusing some of their attention on Christmas.

A proposed law approved by a Senate committee aims to preserve a post-Christmas tradition that, for many towns, has been sidelined or dramatically changed due to pollution concerns from state officials.

"For the past two years, we've burned pallets in order to not lose a tradition that has become so important to our community," Clinton Mayor Janice Kovach told legislators. "And I have to tell you, it's difficult to explain how pallets are OK, but Christmas trees are not."

Christmas trees are included in the Department of Environmental Protection's list of refuse materials that cannot be openly burned.

Under a measure approved by the Senate Environment and Energy Committee on May 15, municipalities would be permitted to hold annual events for the open burning of Christmas trees. All ornaments and lights would have to be removed from the trees before they can be burned.

“Annual open burn events are a cost-effective method for municipalities to dispose of discarded Christmas trees,” said Sen. Doug Steinhardt, R-Warren, a sponsor of the measure. “These events would occur under the watchful eye of local fire departments and provide greater environmental benefits than dumping the trees into landfills."

According to the New Jersey League of Municipalities, the tree-burn events also serve as economic drivers for their respective towns, and provide donation opportunities to benefit local causes and organizations.

Under the measure, the DEP would be responsible for establishing rules and standards for the open burning of Christmas trees by municipalities.

Dino Flammia is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at

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