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Sparta Mountain – Take A Walk On The Wild Side

Sparta Mt. illustrates several Christie DEP environmental crimes

Sparta Mt (Source: Sue Dorward)

Sparta Mt (Source: Sue Dorward,taken by John Paul Endress

The Christie DEP, NJ Audubon, and professional foresters are furiously engaged in a sophisticated multi-media PR campaign to convince the public that their Sparta Mountain plan is “Stewardship” – not logging – and that critics are ill informed (even the professors!)

Why such a strong reaction and aggressive and crazy pushback?

Their so called lush forest is nothing more than a green canopy with minimal undergrowth to attract and feed wildlife. Sunlight no longer penetrates. Browse is nonexistent. Many of the animals and birds no longer live there.

Many animals and birds no longer live there? Does NJA really believe that? Plants too? NJ Audubon is in bed with the crazies.

Given the attempt to obscure a public lands debate with claims about “science”, where are the evaluation Reports that show if all the prior “forest treatments” (Orwellian code for logging) worked?

Has NJ Audubon explained exactly why they de-designated Sparta Mt. as “High Conservation Value Forest” (HCVF)?

Has NJA CEO Eric Stiles explained his conservation U-Turn from minimize disturbance and maximize forest canopy cover to log core forest to create young forests?

I challenge anyone to take a walk on the Mountain – take a walk on the wild side! – and visit the sites that were previously logged and see for themselves whether this is “Stewardship” or clear cut logging. As you quietly approach these areas during your walk through the woods, consider whether this is an appropriate use of publicly owned Green Acres preserved land.

NJTV News did exactly just that and produced this excellent news story, including showing the aerial photos – watch it:

Here are some scenes of the crimes of the Christie DEP from the ground level, accompanied by an intro paragraph to explain the implications of the photo (shot on April 21, 2016):

1. Does this look like logging or “stewardship”?

The Christie DEP logging program is not limited to Sparta Mt. – it includes hundreds of additional acres in Weldon Brook WMA, Mahlon Dickerson Reservation, and Newark Watershed lands.




2. Sensitive headwater streams will no longer be protected (c1 buffers)




This is an “exceptionally ecologically significant” Category One (C1) trout production (TP) headwater stream. Notice that it has no defined stream bed and bank. Current DEP “Special Water Resource Protection Areas” regulations provide a 300 foot wide buffer protection. The DEP proposed to repeal and eliminate those protections. The new DEP “riparian zone” rules do not apply to headwater streams with no defined bed and bank.

3. Environmentally sensitive lands can be sewered and intensively developed (WQMP rollbacks)


This is environmentally sensitive land that could not be provided sewer service under former DEP “Water Quality Management Planning” rules. But the Christie DEP eliminated those protections and now allow lands like these to be sewered.

4. Highlands forests can be more densely developed (Septic density standards rollbacks)



These lands are protected by the Highlands Act and DEP’s septic density standards that strictly limit development in forests to 88 acre lot sizes. Christie DEP just proposed to rollback current septic density standards in forested lands in the Highlands Preservation area to just 23 acres.

5. Wildlife slaughtered (black bear hunt)


Sparta Mountain is prime black bear habitat. We saw a young black bear in this area from about 100 feet. I didn’t get a chance to take a photo because I was trying to stop my dog from chasing him! The Christie DEP reversed prior policy and now promotes a bear hunt.

Hunters and the guns and ammo crowd are strongly supporting the logging plan because it is designed to increase the habitat and population of game species.

DEP serves their hunter clients because they depend on license fee revenue to support their salaries.


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