NJDEP: New Jersey will receive additional $3 million to fight wildfires
The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection says New Jersey will see more money to fight forest fires after several wildfires impacted the state this summer.
The Murphy administration will add another $3 million to the state budget for the Department of Environmental Protection's Forest Fire Service as the state faces an increase in wildfire risks due to climate change, according to NJDEP. The agency says the money will be used to hire more people and buy new equipment, including helping to upgrade the Forest Fire Service’s aging fleet of equipment.
“The need to further strengthen our Forest Fire Service cannot be understated during Climate Week as the impacts of climate change increase the frequency and intensity of wildfires right here at home,” Commissioner LaTourette said in a statement.
“In addition to protecting lives and property, our Forest Fire Service assists with natural disasters, maintains hundreds of miles of roads, works alongside multiple cooperators to develop and implement strategic plans that reduce the risk of future wildfires, and lends their talents to other states when wildfires strike," LaTourette said.
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NJDEP says the Forest Fire Service has responded to 1,034 wildfires so far in 2023 which have burned 17,979 acres in New Jersey. They say 14 of these fires were considered major wildfires burning in excess of 100 acres, making 2023 the busiest fire season in more than a decade.
They say fire seasons across the country have increased in length, including in the Garden State. Wildfire season in New Jersey has historically been from mid-March through mid-May but has increased noticeably in length during the past decade, according to NJDEP, with major wildfires occurring in February and extending into summer.
The most significant of these fires include the Jimmy’s Waterhole Wildfire in Manchester and Lakehurst in Ocean County, which burned more than 3,000 acres and caused the evacuation of 170 homes, according to NJDEP.
The most recent wildfire in the state happened just last month in Waterford Township.
In New Jersey, NJDEP says 99% of wildfires are caused by people, through accidents, carelessness and arson. The rest are caused by lightning strikes.