Home > Uncategorized > NJ Audubon Is Today’s “April Fool” For Spinning Their Sparta Mountain Logging Plan

NJ Audubon Is Today’s “April Fool” For Spinning Their Sparta Mountain Logging Plan

This is not a Yes Men stunt!

It is fitting that on April Fool’s Day, NJ Spotlight finally got around to covering the Sparta Mountain logging debate – safely the day afer the public comment period closed.

So we will use that story as a platform for our First Annual April Fool’s Award – which goes to – drumroll …………… NJ Audubon! Come on down Eric Stiles and accept your award!

The NJ Spotlight headline elicited a chuckle –


I love the fact that the the Sparta Mountain plan is correctly called a “Logging Pan”  – not that Orwellian term “Stewardship” – and I can see the dark irony operating in calling NJ Audubon a “Green Group”. That appellation fits only if the green is the color of money!

On a serious note, because I’ve written so much about this issue, I submitted the following comments so that NJ Spotlight readers might understand the context and fuller nature of the debate (for those readers who got past the hilarious headline), as follows:

1. There is a large body of technical and scientific information that has been generated in the course of reviewing the Sparta Mountain plan that show that NJ Audubon drafted the plan and that it is fatally flawed, even in terms of preserving the Golden Wing Warbler.

If GWW were the only issue involved, the NJA plan still fails because it not only will not work, but will make the GWW decline WORSE by allowing more hybridization with blue wing warbler to occur.

Hybridization is why the Appalachian GWW recovery plan says places like Sparta Mountain, where hybridization is already occurring, are NOT APPROPRIATE and should be AVOIDED. NJ Audubon has destroyed their credibility in aggressively defending this seriously flawed plan.

So, while the debate certainly is “acrimonious”, it is well grounded in science and fact.

2. There is no “split” in the green community.

NJ Audubon is all alone – in a coalition with the foresters, loggers, hunters, gun manufacturers, and ATV crowd. And NJ Audubon is not a green group – at best, they are acting as a well funded consultant (a billionaire’s hunting group gave NJA $140,000 to develop the plan).

3. NJ Audubon’s plan contradicts NJ Audubon’s own science and advocacy regarding public lands and forest management. Eric Stiles, NJA President, himself presented a 2002 paper that made the case for preserving large intact blocks of contiguous forest – including 75 species of rare, threatened forest interior dwelling birds.

Along with the US Forest Service Report (2002), this NJA work helped secure passage of the Highlands Act, whose prime imperative is to preserve remaining forests.

4. NJ Audubon has engaged in some really unprofessional and underhanded tactics – including the remarkable move to “de-designate” Sparta Mt. WMA as “High Conservation Value Forest” (even though NJA itself has designated SMWMA as “Important Bird and Birding Area”.

Even the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) has chastised NJA in audits of their program – with a more critical audit now in the works, now that FSC auditors have been made aware of NJA’s misleading tactics.

Along with aggressively defending flawed science, these underhanded tactic have harmed NJA reputation and made a LOT of enemies for life.

This all just shows that Mr. Stiles – while a corporate oriented entrepreneur and capable harvester of government and Foundation grants – is not a strategist.

If he were, he would have cut his losses and run by now.

I’d be glad to provide links to documents that support every claim made above, or readers can visit:



[PS – Advice for Mr. Stiles, in language he might understand:

Find a face saving way out – you’re damaging the brand, losing market share, undermining the confidence of investors, and making the money people nervous about media risks to reputation.

More to follow on this set of issues in an upcoming post.]

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