Archive for April, 2023

DEP Must Halt Pinelands Logging Project In Light Of Glassboro Disaster

April 30th, 2023 No comments

DEP Pinelands Roadside Logging Would Look EXACTLY Like Glassboro WMA Clearcut

DEP Plan Would Clearcut 13 Miles Of Pinelands Roadsides & Log 1,400 Acres Of Forest

Source: NJ DEP roadside clearcut at Glassboro WMA

Source: NJ DEP roadside clearcut at Glassboro WMA

The above photo was taken by DEP enforcement staff at the illegal Glassboro Wildlife Management Are clearcut. That’s only a couple of hundred feet of roadside clearcut.

But take a good look at it, because – if it is allowed to go forward – the flawed DEP’s Pinelands “Forestry” plan will look very similar, but not for a few hundred feet  – but along 13 MILES of Pinelands Roads (100 foot wide clearcut, plus another 100 feet wide intensively “thinned” forest logging and “feathering treatments”.)

DEP calls this clearcutting a “firebreak”.

But abundant evidence and DEP’s own analysis and public statements about previous Pinelands wildfires demonstrate that it will not work. Intense canopy fire, high winds, and blowing embers easily will drive the fire to jump the firebreak.

The DEP Pinelands logging plan was scheduled to begin this March-April.

It must be stopped in light of the Glassboro disaster.

See my letter below to DEP Commissioner LaTourette urging his to stop this logging project – a project, like Glassboro WMA, that got virtually no public review either.

It would be nice if a lot of people and groups made this demand to DEP and asked that it be Statewide in scope. All it takes is a letter to DEP and a press release. I copied Carleton (PPA) and Emile (NJCF) and Sierra Club, but I doubt they will do anything unless you shame them into it (particularly because they all SUPPORTED this DEP plan).

———- Original Message ———-

From: Bill WOLFE <>

To:,, senbsmith <>, sengreenstein <>,, asmmckeon <>,,, Jaclyn Rhoads <>, Anjuli Ramos <>

Date: 04/29/2023 12:44 PM MST

Subject: DEP Must Halt Pinelands Logging Project

Dear Commissioner LaTourette:

In light of significant DEP policy, process, and personnel problems exposed by the disastrous DEP clearcut of Glassboro Wildlife Management Area (WMA), I am writing to urge that you impose an administrative halt on implementing DEP’s proposed forestry plan approved by the Pinelands Commission on October 14, 2022.

This moratorium should be imposed until the Legislature enacts forestry reform legislation and DEP adopts implementing regulations.

The attached photo was taken by the Department at the Glassboro WMA clearcut.

The proposed DEP Pinelands forestry plan proposal to clearcut 13 miles of 100 foot wide roadside “firebreaks” will cause damage that will look very similar to this photo.

Additional forest damage will result from DEP logging of almost 1,400 additional acres.

My understanding was that the DEP Pinelands forestry (logging) work was to begin in March-April of this year.

Please make inquiry to your staff about the status of this plan and immediately take steps to stop it.

Recall that you previously wrote a letter to the Pinelands Commission urging the Commission to adopt that plan, and threatening a lawsuit if they didn’t.

But that was before the public, the Legislature, and the press could see what DEP forestry projects actually look like.

Bill Wolfe

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The Public Was Shut Out, But Hunters Were Consulted In DEP’s Clearcut Logging Plan In Glassboro WMA

April 29th, 2023 No comments

Another Example Of Agency Capture By The Hunting Lobby

BTW, DEP will conduct the same clearcuts along 13 miles of Pinelands Roads

BTW, DEP will conduct the same clearcuts along 13 miles of Pinelands Roads

DEP documents reveal that DEP consulted with the NJ State Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs in developing and vetting their Glassboro Wildlife Management Area clearcut.

But the public was completely shut out.

(DEP did not even deploy their sham “14 step process” for forest management plans, which was developed in response to public outrage over the joint DEP/NJ Audubon logging project at the Sparta Mt. WMA.)

A few NJ insider conservation groups – who have long been a part of the problem – are throwing somewhat of a hissy fit over DEP’s lack of consultation with them (and the public) in the Glassboro WMA illegal clearcut: (NJ Spotlight):

“This should never have happened, so they must also take steps to improve their clearly inadequate process and meaningfully engage the public,’’ Gilbert said. “No significant projects should move forward without being subject to comprehensive review with public input. Our public lands deserve better.’’

These hypocritical groups themselves are part of the problem, for two primary reasons:

First, they have personal, professional, and organizational common interests with the DEP, play the inside game with DEP, publicly support DEP (while withholding criticism); deploy some of the same destructive management practices as DEP.

Here’s how that cozy relationship actually worked in this case (see this Feb. 24 friendly email from Emile DeVito NJCF to DEP Assistant Commissioner Dave Golden and note how Emile effectively runs interference and puts Emile in the role of intermediary between local citizens who discovered the illegal clearcut and the DEP. Note also the exclusive concern with process, not clearcutting:

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Second, because they share some of the same scientific and policy views about wildlife, wildfire, and forest management and cultivate partnerships with the hunting lobby and rarely, if ever, criticize them or their undue influence on DEP management decisions. (see:

[Note: For those who like to read the peer reviewed published science to understand exactly what’s going on here, see:

So, you will not hear any specific criticism of DEP for consulting with the NJ State Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs (NJSFSC) or the abusive undue influence of the NJSFSC on DEP.

In an October 3, 2022 friendly “Hey Tom” email from Tyler Kinney, DEP Habitat Planner in charge of the project, DEP provided a copy of the Glassboro WMA clearcut plan and requested “feedback” from Tom Weeast, (at his work email, Lake Ave. Autobody) the Gloucester County Federation of NJSFSC: (and there is a Doodle meeting event as well with unknown participants. I filed another OPRA for them too):

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Substantively, DEP documents show that the DEP made the hunting objectives absolutely clear in the “science” they relied on from a paper by the US Fish and Wildlife Service: American Woodcock – Population Status, 2022

Harvest Information Program

The Harvest Information Program (HIP) was cooperatively developed by the USFWS and state wildlife agencies to provide reliable annual estimates of hunter activity and harvest for all migratory game birds (Elden et al. 2002). The HIP sampling frame consists of all migratory game bird hunters. Under this program, state wildlife agencies collect the name, address, and additional information from each migratory bird hunter in their state, and send that information to the USFWS. The USFWS then selects stratified random samples of those hunters and asks them to voluntarily provide detailed information about their hunting activity. For example, hunters selected for the woodcock harvest survey are asked to complete a daily diary about their woodcock hunting and harvest during the current year’s hunting season.

It’s time that the hunting lobby stop dictating DEP’s wildlife and public lands management policies.

We need explicit new laws to stop these abuses.

DEP and their conservation allies don’t want to talk about any of that.

But will the NJ media tell the public about all these abuses?

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DEP Logging Logic: From “Young Forests” To Outright “Land Conversion”

April 27th, 2023 No comments

Creation of Habitat and Promotion of Hunting Reach Their End Game

“Active Management”, “Thinning”, “Feathering”, & “Treatments” Go Rogue To Clearcut

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You have to read the DEP justification below of their clearcut of the Glassboro Wildlife Management Area to create habitat for a game bird. It confirms everything critics have attacked.

For many years, environmental activists across the state have criticized the DEP wildlife and forest management programs for relying on flawed science and elevating narrow special interests (e.g. a single bird species, or creation of habitat for game species to serve hunting interests) above climate science, forest ecology, wildlife science (think bear hunt), and forest preservation. This has led to poor land management, slaughter of animals, and logging of mature forests across the state.

A major substantive focus of this criticism has been on how DEP uses the sham science of creation of habitat to justify logging and the complete lack of regulation of DEP’s management programs, like logging.

A major process criticism focused on how DEP is captured totally by the hunting lobby, whose interests DEP serves. DEP excludes the public and fails to involve the public in DEP public lands and wildlife management. DEP simply ignores public demands.

Prominent conservation groups, like NJ Audubon, have provided cover and support for this sham science and destructive management, see:

If I were to write a parody to illustrate and mock all these problems at DEP – like an Onion piece – I could not have written anything nearly as good as DEP’s actual justification below.

I will expand upon and discus the specifics in a followup post, but here it is in its entirety, unedited, for you to read. (A word of caution: DEP has denied my OPRA requests for all the DEP internal review documents and emails, including exactly how this project went through the DEP review process and management chain, and all the upper level managers who signed off on it. I think that is part of DEP’s attempt to find a fall guy and make this appear like an individual rogue staffer or “mistake”.)

The text below is from a March 6 memo from Tyler Kinney, DEP’s “Regional Habitat Planner”, Bureau of Land Management, Division of Fish and Wildlife, to Don Donnelly of the USDA/NRCS (remarkably, Donnelley is a former NJ Audubon logger). Kinney copies DEP manager Lisa Barno (previously head of DEP Freshwater Fisheries, where she was captured by and served the interests of license fee revenue generating fishermen) and our Sparta Mountain golden wing warbler logger DEP biologist Sharon Petzinger. Kinney was responding to Donnelly’s quite revealing March 3 inquiry (more about that in a followup post) about what went on in Glassboro WMA project: (emphases are mine):

The intention of this project is to create meadow habitat for the purpose of managing for woodcock. According to USFWS, the long term trend in woodcock heard during singing ground surveys is in significant decline in New Jersey. A 2015 study out of Cape May by Allen et al. (attached) suggests this decline is due to changing land use – namely the maturation of abandoned farm land into forests. The study concludes that open habitats (meadows, grasslands) in close proximity to forested wetlands is a key variable in generating suitable woodcock habitat in New Jersey.

The site in Glassboro was selected based on its land characteristics as delineated in NJ Land Use GIS data layers, as well as its absence of rare plant and T&E fauna occurrences in their respective database layers. Other considerations made were the suitability of this habitat for grassland nesting birds (meadow >20 acres in size) as well as species in the pollinator guild (field will be planted in a pollinator mix). Subsequent management includes the early spring mowing of ~8ft strips in the field to create woodcock singing grounds.

Regarding the plan, I am assuming you are referring to a forest stewardship plan. Because this is a land-clearing to convert forest into non-forest with no regeneration planned, a stewardship plan would not be the right approach. I don’t have experience with FVS carbon assessments as this point. One was not requested of me when this project was placed through NJDEP land management review.

Let me repeat, with a little color for emphasis:

I don’t have experience with FVS carbon assessments as this point. One was not requested of me when this project was placed through NJDEP land management review.

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DEP Request For Proposals On Glassboro Logging Required That “Trees To Be Machine Cut Using Industrial Forestry Tree Cutters”

April 26th, 2023 No comments

DEP Paid Contractor $205,000 To Clearcut And Bulldoze Mature Forests

Contract Bid Requirements Completely Ignored Environmental Requirements

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Yesterday, we wrote to expose the misleading claims by DEP Commissioner LaTourette that the Glassboro Wildlife Management Area illegal clearcut was a simple human mistake or innocent staff error.

Both the Commissioner and the press corps have created the utterly false impression that this project was somehow unique or an anomaly, instead of the intentional, planned outcome of DEP’s statewide wildlife management and forestry policies.

These policies were implemented via a site specific Glassboro WMA management plan that was reviewed and approved by the entire chain of command of the DEP Fish and Wildlife, Land Use Management, and Financial managers.

As we drill down on what really went on at the Glassboro Wildlife Management Area illegal clearcut, we’ve been submitting OPRA public records requests and receiving DEP documents in dribs and drabs.

Today, we received a package of the bidding and contracting documents, including DEP’s Request For Proposals (RFP) on the project. (I’m unable to provide a link, but all documents provided upon request)

We were absolutely appalled by what those documents reveal about DEP policies and procedures.

1. The RFP and contracts did not include ANY environmental review or substantive compliance requirements, not even rudimentary stormwater and soil erosion and sediment controls (e.g. not even a silt fence to protect adjacent wetlands).

Keep this in mind the next time DEP forestry managers try to assure you that although there are no permits issued for forestry work, that the DEP enforces environmental compliance as conditions of the contract.

2. The RFP explicitly required that trees be clearcut, stumps removed, and the land bulldozed (see above):

Trees To Be Machine Cut Using Industrial Forestry Tree Cutters

3. The RFP explicitly required that the cut trees be chipped and taken off site for recycling.

4. DEP relied on two different funding sources (un-named) that had different use restrictions to fund the $205,000 project. We will try to determine the specific sources of funds.

5. The RFP and contract documents required a series of DEP management sign-offs and approvals, but DEP has refused to provide those documents, thereby shielding upper level managers who approved the project from accountability.

This is all totally unacceptable policy and astounding mismanagement of public land that demands legislative oversight and legislative mandates that eliminate DEP management discretion.

Tomorrow, we will provide the DEP’s astonishing defense of the project, in a reply to a US Department of Agriculture, Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) inquiry AFTER the project was completed and facing increasing public criticism.

You really won’t believe it. Really. It is that appalling.

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Murphy DEP Suppressed Public Criticism Of DEP’s Flawed Cancer Risk Screening Methods

April 26th, 2023 No comments

DEP Cancer Risk Methods Ignore Environmental Justice And Cumulative Exposure Risks

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6. The [cancer risk screening] methodology fails to consider disproportionate community burdens and exposures. The methodology fails to incorporate community vulnerability and susceptibility or otherwise incorporate the standards and policies of the Environmental Justice law or DEP’s proposed environmental justice regulations.

The DEP today adopted final “Revised Risk Screening Worksheet for Long-Term Carcinogenic and Noncarcinogenic Effects and Short-Term Effects”.

The DEP uses these risk screening methods in various environmental regulatory programs – including air permits – so they have a huge impact on how much pollution is allowed to be emitted and public health.

DEP allows polluters to apply these methods, including in overburdened environmental justice communities. But the methods ignore EJ issues entirely.

[Note: the “methods” I refer to include a broad array of techniques, from risk screening, to risk assessment, to air quality monitoring, to air quality modeling, to the definitions of “sensitive receptors” and “health endpoints”, to regulatory risk mitigation measures (e.g. increasing the stack height of the pollution emission source was discredited 50 years ago, and brought us such air pollution problems as long range transport, acid rain, and mercury in fish and wildlife. It is bizarre that such engineering insanity is still embedded in DEP’s air pollution control permit program and that DEP is not even challenged to defend it and allowed to ignore criticism of it.]

I wrote about that when DEP proposed the changes on November 3, 2022:

The regulated chemical industry supported DEP’s revisions, which weakened the current methods, which were criticized by industry as “too stringent”.

The DEP is required by law to accurately present and respond to pubic comment on their regulatory actions.

Here is the DEP’s “Response To Public Comments Document”.

There were 3 public commenters who DEP claimed submitted 4 comments.

As you can see, the DEP provided extensive and accurate summaries of the chemical industry comments that supported the DEP rollback.

Did you get that? Let me repeat: DEP provided elaborate and accurate summaries of industry comments that praised DEP’s rollback of health screening methods.

On November 3, 2022, I submitted detailed critical comments on DEP’s proposed revisions.

(I also provided my comments to Sierra Club’s new Director, a former DEP air pollution “expert” and requested that Sierra submit comments to DEP, which they failed to do. The next time Sierra Club talks about “environmental justice”, ask them why they failed to criticize DEP’s methods which completely ignore EJ.)

Here is how DEP presented my criticism:

COMMENT: The Department’s approach to risk assessment, including the Risk Screening worksheet, the risk assessment methodology, and risk reduction requirements, is flawed. (3)

That’s it. DEP claimed my comments merely claimed that the Department’s “approach” was “flawed”.

DEP not only completely ignored and failed to respond to the substance of my comments, they failed to even summarize them so the public could read them!

That does a grave disservice to the public, by masking important substantive science and regulatory policy issues. It also violates the Department’s obligations under the NJ Administrative Procedures Act and principles of administrative law. The Department is betraying its public trust and legal obligations to be transparent and responsive to public comments.

This is an outrageous and totally unacceptable regulatory practice.

Here are my comments, which show that DEP intentionally suppressed valid science and law based criticisms:

———- Original Message ———-

From: Bill WOLFE <>

To: “” <>, “” <>, Robert Hennelly <>

Date: 11/03/2022 12:12 PM MST

Subject: Comment – Draft Risk Screening Worksheet

Dear DEP – please accept the following comment on the DEP’s draft Risk Screening Worksheet for carcinogenic and non carcinogenic compounds:

1. Increasing stack height and relocation of the emission source should not be considered acceptable risk reduction measures. Pollution prevention followed by SOTA/MACT technology must be enforced, not these false solutions.

2. The Pollution Prevention Act authorized the DEP to enforce Pollution Prevention Plans in DEP air permits. The DEP has failed to implement that authority. DEP must begin to enforce PP plans in air permits. The risk screening process can become an opportunity to do so, yet it fails to do so.

3. The permit applicant should not be allowed to conduct a “Refined Risk Assessment”. That analysis should be conducted only by the DEP professionals, who are objective and do not have a profit driven motive to manipulate the analysis.

4. The spreadsheet is not user friendly and it is virtually impossible for the lay public to understand it or use it or comment on it.

5. The entire risk screening and risk assessment methodology fails to incorporate cumulative risks associated with multiple chemicals, multiple exposure pathways, and synergistic effects.

6. The methodology fails to consider disproportionate community burdens and exposures. The methodology fails to incorporate community vulnerability and susceptibility or otherwise incorporate the standards and policies of the Environmental Justice law or DEP’s proposed environmental justice regulations.

7. The DEP’s risk “standards” do not include mandatory risk reduction requirements or a basis for DEP permit denial when risks exceed “acceptable risk” levels.

8. The proposal appears to be reliant on modeling and fence line air quality and contaminant monitoring, as opposed to actual levels of exposure at the site of sensitive receptors.

9. The applicability of the risk screening methodology is extremely narrow – limited pollutants and sources. Only major sources of hazardous air pollution and certain other limited sources are required to conduct the risk screening. It should be applied far more broadly to all emissions and there need to be mandatory risk reduction measures to implement the risk findings.

The above are major policy, regulatory, and scientific flaws that must be addressed.


Bill Wolfe

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