PEMBERTON TOWNSHIP — The New Jersey Pinelands Commission has begun livestreaming its monthly meetings from its headquarters in the 1.1 million acre reserve.

People can see what the commission is up to without making a drive that is at least an hour for many New Jersey residents. And recordings of the meetings are available online.

“I think it’s good. It’s not quite the same as being able to be there,” said Carleton Montgomery, executive director of the nonprofit Pinelands Preservation Alliance. “You can’t stand up and make a comment.”

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But with the commission meetings routinely held on Friday mornings, when most people are working, it’s unrealistic to expect them to attend, Montgomery said.

The next meeting is 9:30 a.m. Friday.

The plan is to make commission meetings and the information they provide more easily available.

“We’re hopeful that by livestreaming our meetings, it will engender a greater interest in the work of the Pinelands Commission and our efforts to safeguard this region,” said spokesman Paul Leakan.

The July and August meetings were livestreamed and remain available on YouTube.com, said Leakan, as well as through links on the commission’s website nj.gov/pinelands/home/meetings/ live.shtml.

But the September meeting was not. It was held off-site at the War Memorial in Trenton to accommodate a larger crowd interested in the fate of the New Jersey Natural Gas pipeline and a road map for Wharton State Forest.

“We could not do it from the War Memorial. We didn’t have a connection that could work,” said Leaken.

The alliance has been recording the meetings for years. Older meetings are available on the website at pinelandsalliance.org, and more recent meetings are available on its Facebook page, including the September meeting at the War Memorial.

Now the recordings will also be available on the government website that many turn to first for information.

Watching meetings online allows the public to see what staff members and commissioners say, and their manner while saying it, Montgomery said.

“There’s a greater sense of the people involved,” Montgomery said, compared with simply reading written minutes. “And we all know people make all the difference.”

Leakan said people have asked over the years for the commission to provide video access to meetings, but he hasn’t gotten a huge response to the start of it.

According to YouTube, the July meeting was watched 179 times and the August meeting was watched 63 times.

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Contact: 609-272-7219 MPost@pressofac.com @MichelleBPost Facebook.com/EnvironmentSouthJersey

In my first job after college got paid to read the New York Times and summarize articles for an early online data base. First reporting job was with The Daily Record in Parsippany. I have also worked in nonprofits, and have been with The Press since 1990.

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