The Pinelands Commission is comprised of fifteen members, seven of whom are nominated by the governor, one appointed by each of the seven Pinelands Counties (Atlantic, Burlington, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Gloucester, Ocean), and one federal representative from the Department of the Interior. Members of the Commission serve staggered three-year terms, but, once their terms expire, they continue in office until replaced or they resign. The Governor appoints the Chair of the Commission.
Pinelands Commissioners have final say with regards to all rule changes and all development activities regulated by the Pinelands Comprehensive Management Plan (CMP). View the list of Pinelands Commissioners on the state’s website.
In recent years, the Pinelands Commission has approved several developments in violation of the plain terms and intent of the Pinelands Protection Act and CMP. The Commission has also moved to diminish the voices and rights of the public in their process and has failed to enact common-sense and critical policies. We are working with Counties to ensure that their representatives on the Commission are chosen through a fair and transparent process. It is essential that the governor also make new nominations of conservation-minded individuals, and that the state Senate confirm these nominations.
Gov. Murphy Must take action on Pinelands Commission Nominations
Dr. Jessica Rittler Sanchez was finally confirmed by the NJ Senate Judiciary Committee on December 7, 2023, years after her initial nomination by Governor Murphy. You can read more about the need for greater gender and racial diversity on the Commission on our blog.
The Governor has the opportunity to nominate two more individuals to join the Pinelands Commission; these seats were vacated in January and August of 2023, respectively—yet the Governor has still not made any indication of when he intends to fill them.
Given the recent interest in accessibility of Pinelands resources to those with mobility challenges, and the need to amend the CMP to accommodate future accessibility projects, Pinelands Preservation Alliance would like to see a disability rights advocate join the Commission. We would also like to see new members with deep experience working in environmental justice communities on issues of environmental equity.
You can help us advocate for a full and diversified Pinelands Commission by asking Governor Murphy to make progress on new nominations ASAP. You can contact him with the following suggested message:
“Governor Murphy, the Pinelands Commission has two empty seats that won’t be filled until you take action. We need you to nominate individuals who will be strong environmental advocates and bring a diversity of experiences to the Pinelands Commission, which lags behind the rest of the state’s boards and commissions in both racial and gender diversity. You have the power to shape the Pinelands Commission; please use it and make these nominations ASAP.”
Questions? Contact Policy Director, Heidi Yeh. She can be reached at Heidi@PinelandsAlliance.org or by phone at 609-859-8860 ext. 122.