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Tell Gov. Murphy To Veto DEP Pinelands Logging Plan

DEP Rammed Plan Though Pinelands Commission With No Public Awareness Or Debate

Logging Conflicts With Gov. Murphy’s Climate Commitments

Source: AP story, link below

Source: AP story, link below

The Associated Press (AP) ran an important story today on DEP’s little known but insane Pinelands logging plan:

There is still time for Gov. Murphy to veto the minutes of the Pinelands Commission to block implementation of this plan. Call him and demand that he veto it: 609-292-6000.

Alternately, DEP Commissioner LaTourette could withdraw the plan voluntarily as a good faith move to allow public deliberation and expert scientific peer review of the deeply flawed DEP plan, which seriously conflicts with Gov. Murphy’s climate commitments, DEP climate science and the goals of the Global Warming Response Act.

See my letter below to legislators urging intervention with DEP and the Governor.

———- Original Message ———-

From: Bill WOLFE <>

To: senbsmith <SenBSmith@njleg.org>, sengreenstein <sengreenstein@njleg.org>, “kduhon@njleg.org” <kduhon@njleg.org>, Anjuli Ramos <anjuli.ramos@sierraclub.org>, “eileen.murphy@njaudubon.org” <eileen.murphy@njaudubon.org>

Cc: Mark Lohbauer <mlohbauer@jgscgroup.com>, “Grogan, Susan [PINELANDS]” <Susan.Grogan@pinelands.nj.gov>

Date: 11/25/2022 1:43 PM

Subject: AP story on DEP Pinelands logging plan

Dear Chairman Smith, Senator Greenstein, Commissioner LaTourette, and Forestry Task Force Co-Chairs:

The Associated Press (AP) ran an important story today on DEP’s plan to log over 1,300 acres and significantly reduce canopy cover by cutting and removing 2.4 million trees – including a 50 foot wide clearcut along 13 road miles as a “firebreak”. (see below for a link to the AP story)

  • Fire plan would cut 2.4 million New Jersey Pinelands trees


Unfortunately, the DEP plan was approved by the Pinelands Commission, but with virtually no public awareness, debate, or testimony. The Pinelands Commission even denied my OPRA request for documents on the plan during their review and prior to their approval. This was an extraordinary bad faith violation of OPRA by the Commission staff.

The DEP plan can still be blocked by Gov. Murphy’s powers under the Pinelands Act to veto the minutes of the Commission.

The plan was strongly opposed by Pinelands Commissioner Lohbauer for multiple forestry, habitat, water quality and climate policy reasons, including the fact that the DEP rushed the plan in order to evade pending CMP amendments that would establish as “no net loss of trees” policy.

The plan drew criticism by Commissioner Wallner – a retired *National Park Service wildfire expert – because it lacked any justification based on wildfire risk reduction (Wallner specifically noted that there were little to no at risk people of property near the logging and “firebreak”).

I strongly opposed the plan, primarily on climate grounds: (AP story):

“It is unacceptable to be cutting down trees in a climate emergency, and cutting 2.4 million small trees will severely reduce the future ability to store carbon,” said Bill Wolfe, a former department official who runs an environmental blog.

Given: 1) the lack of public awareness or involvement, 2) the Pinelands Commission’s OPRA violations which suppressed public information, 3) the criticisms by Pinelands Commissioners, 4) the lack of justification, 5) adverse ecological and climate impacts and 6) direct conflicts with the goals of the Global Warming Response Act, DEP climate science and the Governor’s climate commitments, I strongly urge you to conduct oversight of DEP and deny appropriations for this work in DEP’s upcoming budget.

I also urge you to contact Gov. Murphy and urge him to veto the minutes of the Pinelands Commission to block implementation of the DEP plan. A 10 day statutory clock is running, which might toll on or about. Nov. 29.

This is particularly important given the DEP’s emerging climate carbon sequestration science, planning, and policy and regulatory development (including RGGI), as well as the deliberations of the Forestry Task Force.


Bill Wolfe

*corrected 12/13/22

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