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The US Air Force Is The Biggest Arsonist In The Pinelands

The US Air Force Starts One Pinelands Fire Every 10 – 14 Days

DEP Misled The Pinelands Commission About The Military Objectives Of Logging Plan

There is so much propaganda being distributed by the Murphy DEP and printed as fact by NJ media that I find it difficult to keep up.

So, I apologize that I’m a little behind in getting out the real story behind this recent garbage journalism, fed by the most manipulative gaslighting DEP Commissioner ever, Shawn LaTourette: (NJ Spotlight)

That story celebrates military funding and portrays DEP in a very favorable light in terms of protecting Pinelands communities from wildfires. That story misleadingly creates the impression that DEP’s military funded wildfire management “fire breaks” (33 miles of them) were designed to protect adjacent communities.

But it gets the reality badly wrong and turns what should be a scandal at DEP into praise.

First of all, there is no mention of the fact that the most recent, largest, and controversial DEP wildfire management project, funded by the military, involved 1,400 acres of logging and 13 miles of “firebreak” roads. (that single project is 40% of all the total 33 miles of “firebreaks” and far more land destroyed than the other 20 miles of firebreak).

The 1,400 acres and 13 miles of firebreak roads are located no where near any community or human development! The remotely located logging and the firebreak do NOT protect any community, as DEP and NJ Spotlight would have you believe.

This remote location led to a Pinelands Commisioner openly questioning the rationale for the project. Pinelands Commissioner Doug Wallner, a retired National Park Service expert on wildfire, noted that the DEP plan failed to provide a justification and failed to consider the “no alternative” option. Wallner noted that he had reviewed the maps and that there was little or no people or property at risk or benefit from the logging and firebreak plan.

Here’s what Commissioner Wallner said, verbatim: (watch and listen to the YouTube, Wallner’s remarks begin at time 40 minutes, 20 seconds)

I guess the biggest comment I have is that it seems like it’s a given in the amendment that wildfire is of consequence. So I’d like to see some fleshing out of why, other than just reducing fire hazard, what is the consequence of wildfire? 

I didn’t see any communities nearby or things that are significantly threatened from extreme wildfire.

I did read that it was dense and that it was high fuel loading and everything. But still, I would like some kind of indication of what’s threatened by an extreme wildfire that might happen there.

That project (1,400 acres of logging and 13 miles of roads clearing) was designed to protect the Air Force training mission and Warren Grove US Air Force base.

Worse, the DEP failed to disclose the military funding and military objectives of this project to the Pinelands Commission, the public, and the media during the Pinelands Commission’s review. That is an outright deception by DEP that we called out at the time, see:

DEP Commissioner LaTourette is now trying to turn that totally unacceptable deception and forest mismanagement into a favorable press story.

The DEP also grossly exaggerates wildfire risks. Of the over 1,000 wildfires in NJ, over 90% of them are two acres or less in size. These are basically dumpster fires or roadside grass fires that pose NO risk, see:

If the DEP were serious about reducing wildfire risk and protecting communities (instead of their funding and jobs), they would limit new development in DEP mapped high wildfire risk locations and mandate safety measures at existing development., see:

Yet DEP recently denied this petition for rulemaking to force those protections, see DEP denial document:

There were NO press reports on any of that.

Finally, the DEP fails to disclose and the media fail to report that the US Air Force starts more Pinelands fires than any arsonist.

According to the US Air Force’s  own REPI program fact sheet:

“Every year training activities ignite one fire every 10-14 days, which are suppressed on-site….

So, the US Air Force is funding DEP to reduce the risks to the US Air Force training mission and facilities, not Pinelands Communities.

The US Air Force training missions are creating wildfire risks, not reducing them.

DEP is intentionally misleading the public about all of this.

And the press is reporting lies and has no integrity to report the facts.

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