News Flash

Legislative Advocacy

Posted on: December 1, 2023

Governor Murphy Vetoes Bill to Allow Community Bonfires

Governor Murphy has vetoed S-861, a bill that would have allowed municipalities to hold annual events to burn Christmas trees. 

Municipalities throughout the state have traditionally hosted community events centered on bonfires using discarded Christmas trees. These events have become tremendous economic drivers for local economies and provide fundraising opportunities for local causes, most predominantly including volunteer fire departments.  

However, current regulations promulgated by the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) prohibit the open burning of Christmas trees. Although the DEP had previously exercised its enforcement discretion to allow these events, there has been recent reluctance by the DEP to issue any waiver. 

S-861 offers a limited exception that would have allowed municipalities to continue these annual community bonfires. Unfortunately, Governor Murphy was unable to see the benefit of these traditional events and vetoed the bill, citing concerns with air pollution.    

It is possible, though unlikely, even considering that both houses unanimously passed the legislation, that the Governor’s veto could be overridden. This would require a vote of at least two-thirds from each house.

Contact: Frank Marshall, Esq., Associate General Counsel,, 609-695-3481, x137. 

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