New Jersey

(information last updated January 2019)

Federal Project(s) Operating in the State:

In 2009, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) awarded the Ironbound Community Corporation (“ICC”), a non-profit in Newark, a $100,000 CARE Level I grant to conduct monitoring of pollution coming from 34 waste facilities in the area.  See ICC Envtl. Monitoring, Fed. Crowdsourcing and Citizen Sci. Catalog, (last visited Feb. 7, 2019).  In 2015, EPA lent ICC four air quality sensors to assist their monitoring efforts. See id.  EPA considers this a “proof of concept program,” which it will use to help determine whether it is effective to lend equipment to citizen science groups in other communities. See id. ICC volunteers are responsible for data entry, sample collection and measurements. See id.


State Project(s):

The New Jersey Forest Service Woodland Stewards program engages volunteers in forest management programs including: forest inventory and data collection, invasive species identification, forest health monitoring, and bluebird nest box monitoring. See Volunteer, N.J. Forest Serv., (last visited Feb. 7, 2019).


The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection’s (“NJDEP”) Division of Water Monitoring and Standards facilitates volunteer water monitoring in association with 16 community trusts and associations. Community Water Monitoring, N.J. Dep’t of Envtl. Protection, (last visited Feb. 7, 2019). 



Collection of Information:

Scientific Collection Permit:

A permit is required to “to collect mammals, reptiles, amphibians, fish, and birds and their nests or eggs, for strictly scientific purposes only.” N.J. Stat. Ann. § 23:452; see also Scientific/Salvage Collecting Permits, N.J. Division of Fish & Wildlife, (last visited Feb. 7, 2019).


Trespass Laws:

Criminal Liability for Trespass Despite Lack of Notice:

No.  Notice against trespass must be given by “[a]ctual communication,” “[p]osting,” or “[f]encing.”  N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2C:18-3(b).


Other Provisions:

See infra “Critical Infrastructure Laws.”




Drone Laws: 


“a. A person commits a disorderly persons offense if he knowingly or intentionally operates . . . an unmanned aircraft system . . . in a manner that endangers the life or property of another. In making this determination, the court shall consider the standards for safe operation of small unmanned aircraft systems prescribed by federal law or regulation. . . .


c. A person commits a crime of the fourth degree if he knowingly or intentionally operates an unmanned aircraft system in a manner that interferes with a first responder who is actively engaged in response or actively engaged in air, water, vehicular, ground, or specialized transport.” N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2C:40-28.


“The provisions of P.L.2017, c. 315 (C.2C:40-27 et al.) shall preempt any law, ordinance, resolution, or regulation adopted by the governing body of a county or municipality concerning the private use of an unmanned aircraft system that is inconsistent with the provisions of this act.” N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2C:40-29.

State Parks:

“The operation of a [drone] is hereby specifically prohibited within all lands and waters administered by the State Park Service unless specifically approved by the Assistant Director, State Park Service in accordance with N.J.A.C. 7:2-1.4(b).” N.J. Department of Environmental Protection Division of Parks and Forestry, Policy 2.38, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (July 8, 2015),

Other Provisions:

See infra “Critical Infrastructure Laws.”

Critical Infrastructure Laws:


A person who knowingly trespasses against “a research facility, power generation facility, waste treatment facility, public sewage facility, water treatment facility, public water facility, nuclear electric generating plant or any facility which stores, generates or handles any hazardous chemical or chemical compounds” commits a crime of the fourth degree.  N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2C:183(a).

Drone Law:

“An owner or operator of a critical infrastructure, including a political subdivision,” can apply to the Federal Aviation Administration “to prohibit or restrict the operation of unmanned aircraft systems in close proximity to the critical infrastructure.” N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2C:40-27(c).


Accordingly, it is incumbent on citizen scientists to research which critical infrastructures are protected from drone observation in their area.

Stalking Laws: 

Criminal Law:

“A person is guilty of stalking … if he purposefully or knowingly engages in a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to fear for his safety or the safety of a third person or suffer other emotional distress.”  N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2C:12-10(b). 

Use of Information:

Although our research is incomplete, these provisions could be construed to allow the use of information collected by citizens.

Explicitly Requires:

NJDEP must “[i]nvestigate and provide responses to all citizen complaints [regarding wetlands protection] submitted under Department procedures [and] not oppose intervention by any citizen when permissive intervention may be authorized by statute, rule, or regulation[.]”  N.J. Admin. Code § 7:7A-22.19(a).

Explicitly Allows:

NJDEP may “[u]tilize the information derived from data cards distributed to [Adopt a Beach] program volunteers to formulate recommendations to the Governor and the Legislature for administrative or legislative action to effectuate the goal of preventing ocean pollution.” N.J. Stat. Ann. § 13:19-26(b)(2).

“The [Stormwater Management Implementation Strategy] shall include a long-term monitoring program that will provide information about land use, water quality, water quantity, groundwater resources and riparian and aquatic habitat condition, as appropriate. Information for the monitoring program may include data obtained through watershed management, local, county, State, interstate, and/or Federal monitoring programs, including volunteer monitoring programs.” N.J. Admin. Code § 7:8–3.8(c).

Evidentiary Standards:

Pleading a Claim:

Requires a statement of “the facts on which the claim is based.”  N.J. Super. Ct. R. 4:5-2.

Authentication or Chain of Custody:

“The requirement of authentication or identification as a condition precedent to admissibility is satisfied by evidence sufficient to support a finding that the matter is what its proponent claims.”  N.J. R. Evid. 901.

Expert Testimony:

For civil matters, New Jersey courts incorporate the Daubert factors in determining the admissibility of expert testimony under New Jersey Rule of Evidence 702, but do not embrace the full body of Daubert case law as applied by state and federal courts. See In re Accutane Litig., 234 N.J. 340, 398-400 (2018). For criminal matters, New Jersey courts retain the more stringent “general acceptance” rule. See id. at 399 (citing State v. Harvey, 151 N.J. 117, 167-70 (1997)).


Please note that this discussion is not moderated by the Emmett Environmental Law & Policy Clinic.