Amendments to beach-access bill run afoul of conservationists

jersey shore, new jersey, coast

TOM JOHNSON / NJ SPOTLIGHT – A supposedly consensus bill to guarantee the public’s access to beach and waterfronts in New Jersey is floundering once again as conservation groups balk at new amendments.

The legislation (S-1074), easily approved last June by the Senate in a 36-4 vote, aims to enshrine in state law the public trust doctrine, a common-law principle that stipulates natural resources such as tidal waters and the shoreline are preserved for public use.

But advocates oppose proposed changes to that bill, arguing they narrow the scope of what areas may be open to public access and limit the state Department of Environmental Protection’s authority to mandate access as part of its permitting process …

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