Home > Uncategorized > Murphy DEP Doubles Down On Highlands Logging, Despite Current Abuses

Murphy DEP Doubles Down On Highlands Logging, Despite Current Abuses

The folks on Sparta Mountain just sent me the following June 4, 2019 email from DEP, which sought friendly comments on expansion of next year’s Highlands logging, but made no mention of concerns with current gross abuses:

From: Petzinger, Sharon <Sharon.Petzinger@dep.nj.gov>
Date: Tue, Jun 4, 2019 at 10:45 AM
Subject: Year 2 implementation at Sparta Mountain – draft maps
To: Emile < emile@njconservation.org>, Julia Somers < julia@njhighlandscoalition.org>
Cc: Don Donnelly < don.donnelly@njaudubon.org>, Golden, David <David.Golden@dep.nj.gov>, Heilferty, John < John.Heilferty@dep.nj.gov>

Emile and Julia,

We are seeking your feedback on the placement of the Year 2 activities on Sparta Mountain WMA.

Attached are draft maps broadly outlining where we would likely place a 10-acre modified seed tree (MST) cut, which would retain an average basal area ranging between 20 and 30 sq ft per acre, and a 75-acre single tree selection (STS), which would retain an average basal area ranging between 60 and 70 sq ft per acre. Note that the outline is much larger than the actual footprint of activity, allowing us some wiggle room on the actual placement.

We plan on finalizing everything by August 2 so we may begin implementation in November, so please respond before August 2, 2019. If you want to meet with us on site, Don and I are available July 10-12 and July 29-31.

Thank you in advance for your time and consideration,

Sharon Petzinger

Endangered and Nongame Species Program NJ Fish and Wildlife

First of all, this is NOT a public comment process.

The public is NOT given any opportunity to review and comment on how DEP is mismanaging public lands that taxpayers paid for.

Sending an email to request comments from friendly NJ Audubon, Julia Sommers (NJ Highlands Coalition) and Emile DeVito (NJ Conservation Foundation) is NOT a formal public notice and public comment opportunity.

Second, DEP offering to conduct a site visit with 2 friends ignores all the other people who have raised concerns and actually observed and criticized DEP approved logging on site, and made these criticisms:

1) access road was significantly widened by logger on both sides (as much as 3 to 4 feet) in some places…on both sides
2) there is major soil disturbances so much so there is huge ruts and now oil /hydraulic fluid has been found on the recent cut.
3) logger has yet to pay fine for 6 trees that were cut that weren’t supposed to
4) vernal pools were compromised…that is 300 foot buffer were not protected.

Third, DEP is using the metric of “basal tree area” as a technocratic exercise designed to mask logging.

To put DEP’s basal area metrics in context, here are US Forest Service forest metrics of old growth forest:

Table 5. Attributes of the northern hardwood old-growth forest community type – 112-217 square feet/acre

That is more than 5 times more dense forest than DEP logging plans.

How does DEP continue to get away with this manipulative bullshit, as they log public forests in the Highlands?

Finally, the so called “modified seed tree (MST) cut” and “single tree selection (STS)” are euphemism for clear cuts. Compare to USFS old growth metric cited above.

We again urge legislative oversight and an audit of DEP’s public forest forestry practices and policy.

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