The comment period on the environmentally destructive plan to log Sparta Mountain closes tomorrow and the New Jersey Sierra club is urging the public to comment. We are opposed to the NJDEP’s Forest Stewardship Plan because it will turn the Mountain into a field for bird habitat and other vaguely defined “stewardship” practices.
This plan will clear-cut the forest and destroy critical natural resources, violate the objectives and goals of the Highlands Act, and go against the Regional Master Plan (RMP). We are also concerned that this proposal will threaten the drinking water supply for half of the state as well as interfere with our right to use our public land preserved for the enjoyment of all of us. The New Jersey Sierra Club will join with other environmental groups tomorrow at noon for a telephone press conference to discuss the environmental impacts of the proposal (details below).
“The public needs to have their voice heard against this terrible plan to log Sparta Mountain. The comment period is going to close tomorrow and this is the last chance to come out against this environmentally destructive proposal. In this plan, stewardship is really just another word for logging and clear-cutting an environmentally sensitive forest. If this plan moves forward, logging will remove the canopy, bring in siltation and run-off, impact pristine C1 trout streams as well as the highest water quality in the state. This plan threatens our open space, drinking water, and violates the public trust. Sparta Mountain was purchased with public money to be protected for future generations, but this plan will interfere with recreation and public access for years to come,” said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club.
We are concerned that this plan could have serious environmental impacts to nearby trout streams, wetlands, vernal streams and overall water quality. This plan will violate the objectives and goals of the Highlands Act and the Regional Master Plan (RMP) and even goes against protections for stream buffers. Logging will bring in siltation and run-off, impact pristine C1 trout streams and the highest water quality in the state.
“This plan goes against the purpose of the Highlands Act, which was enacted to keep the contiguous canopy forest in place. It will destroy the environmental integrity of this forested site, whose canopy helps maintain our clean drinking water. If you remove the canopy, it will cause great long-term ecological damage. DEP should not move forward with this plan. If they do, we will see soil erosion and increased runoff, flooding, and non-point source pollution. It will not only change the soil composition by opening the forest floor to more sunlight, but it will open up the entire area for invasive species, deer over-population, as well as increase flooding and non-point source pollution,” said Tittel.
These operations will lead to more erosion and stormwater runoff impacting pristine streams and reservoirs and aquatic ecosystems. Opening up the canopy will lead to a loss of biodiversity in our forests as more deer and invasive species take over. Invasive species infestations would require herbicide use which could impact sensitive streams and areas above reservoirs and water supply intakes. The Highlands is a breeding ground for endangered neo-tropical song birds, that require a deep forest at least 300 ft. of undisturbed habitat to protect their nests from other species. This proposal would threaten the WMA’s biodiversity including the federally-threatened Northern Long-Eared Bat and federally-endangered Indiana Bat.
“We are urging people throughout the state to come out and oppose this project not only because it is environmentally destructive, it is part of the Christie Administration’s attempt to take over our state parks. This is part of Christie’s attempt to privatize and take over our public lands. The proposed Forest Stewardship plan is a horrible sell-out to our open space for private logging companies and must be stopped,” said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “We must tell the DEP not to destroy an entire ecosystem to create habitat for one bird species when they can do this somewhere else. The DEP should be protecting forests, not logging them. The public must comment on this terrible proposal and tell DEP these lands belong to all of us, not commercial loggers.”
The public can comment on this proposal until March 31st 2016 at http://www.njfishandwildlife.com/spartamt_comments.htm. A copy of the plan can be found attached or here: http://www.njfishandwildlife.com/pdf/2015/spartamt_plan.pdf
New Jersey Sierra Club will join New Jersey Conservation Foundation, Highlands Coalition, and North Jersey Pipeline Walkers to discuss the NJDEP’s controversial plan to log Sparta Mountain on the close of comment tomorrow.
source New Jersey Sierra Club