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March 19th, 2023 No comments

Code Of Ethics Only For Some At The NJ DEP


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(Source: NJ DEP Hearing Transcript: “In The Matter Of William Wolfe” (9/21/94)

When I was a kid, some of my favorite TeeVee shows were “Branded” (1965 – 66); “The Fugitive” (1963  – 67); and “Kung Fu” (1972-75).

You can watch the introduction to “Branded” and see for yourself what that was all about.

Here are the lyrics:


Scorned as the one who ran.

What do you do when you’re branded, and you know you’re a man.

Wherever you go, for the rest of your life

You must prove, you’re a man.


Marked with the cowards’ shame.

What do you do when you’re branded,

Will you fight for your name?

He was innocent,

Not a charge was true,

But the world will never know….

Stripped of all his rank,

Stripped of all his pride,

Still he held his head up high!


Friends are a thing unknown,

What do you do when you’re branded?

Can you go it alone?


That’s not the way to die!

What do you do when you’re branded?

Can you live with a lie?

No, I can’t live with lies.

I couldn’t live with lies while I was employed by NJ DEP – and I could not when I was employed by non-governmental environmental groups – and I still can’t as a retired nomad.

In hindsight, I guess those youthful TV shows all shared a common theme: the story of a good man, who is falsely accused of wrongdoing and unjustly dismissed from honorable society, goes out on his own and his acts vindicate his true nature.

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DEP Pinelands Forestry Plan Was Based On A Mountain Of Lies

March 18th, 2023 No comments

Part Two: Oh What A Tangled Web We Weave

Crocodile Tears For DEP Logging of 21 Acres – But Praise For DEP Cutting 1,400 Acres

Was DEP only “cutting unhealthy, suppressed, and poorly formed trees” ???

DEP Was Destroying anExemplary stand of globally imperiled natural community”

Source: NJ DEP Forestry application to the Pinelands Commission (8/22/22)

Source: NJ DEP Forestry application to the Pinelands Commission (8/18/22)

This is part two of the series to expose the lies used to justify the military funded NJ DEP’s Pinelands Forestry Plan.

Part One provided an introduction and overview of the troubling information revealed in government documents, with select DEP maps that illustrate some of the deceptions. Along those lines, it is interesting to compare the map above that DEP provided to the Pinelands Commission with the same map DEP previously provided to the military in the REPI grant. Entirely different titles, dates, mapped features, and project purposes and justifications – for the same project.

Today, we highlight the critical natural resources that are impacted by the DEP 1,400 acre logging plan and were conveniently ignored or lied about by DEP and the conservation groups NJCF and PPA, who both aggressively supported and promoted the DEP plan.

In a recent NJ Spotlight story “Anger grows after NJ cuts down swath of forest”, those same conservation groups blasted the DEP for logging just 21 acres of forest and destroying critical habitat:

“It is not forestry; it’s land clearing,’’ said Emil DeVito, manager of science and conservation at the New Jersey Conservation Foundation. “This is a pristine intact core forest. We are supposed to be protecting those places.’’ The upland forest provided habitat for barred owl and red-shouldered hawk.

NJCF and PPA objected to the lack of public awareness and ability to comment:

The Division of Fish and Wildlife in the Department of Environmental Protection took the action last month in the Glassboro Wildlife Management Area with virtually no public notice and input, conservationists said.

And PPA was angry about DEP’s failure to consider impacts of logging on plants:

The clearing demonstrates that plants do not matter when the fish and wildlife division is dealing with wildlife issues, according to Jaclyn Rhoads, assistant director of the Pinelands Preservation Alliance.

Well, again I call bullshit on that (see my initial prior post).

Why this over the top “angry” response, when both NJCF and PPA supported DEP logging in Pinelands forests that would destroy 1,400 acres of environmentally sensitive forests, with critical habitat values and rare plants and animals that far exceed the 21 acre parcel in Glassboro WMA they were allegedly so angry about.

And – just like DEP – both NJCF and PPA lied to the public about that Pinelands logging project. Here are just a few more examples of how.

1) Lack of Public Awareness and Involvement

Let’s begin with the lack of public awareness and opportunity to comment that NJCF and PPA object to in the DEP’s Glassboro WMA 21 acre logging project (which is located OUTSIDE the Pinelands and provided even LESS STRINGENT regulatory protections – none.)

For the DEP’s massive 1,400 acre logging project located INSIDE the Pinelands, the Pinelands Commission allowed DEP to provide JUST 10 days for public comment. The DEP public notice was an obscure legal notice in the Press Of Atlantic City. As a result, there was no public comment on the DEP’s 1,400 acre logging plan. I testified to the Pinelands Commission AFTER they had already approved it on October 14, 2022.

Both NJCF and PPA knew all about this DEP logging plan for many months but just like DEP – they both kept that information secret.

In fact, NJCF and NJ Audubon own property within 200 feet of the DEP logging project and were provided formal legal notice. That adjacent land ownership adds another level of conflict of interest in their ethical abuses.

2) Lies About Ecological Values

Here is how the DEP described those Pinelands forests in the August 18, 2022 legal public notice on their Pinelands Commission application: (on page 27):

“Operations will involve cutting unhealthy, suppressed, and poorly formed trees, while favoring the retention of healthy species of oak and pine, utilizing the appropriate mechanized equipment”.

Emile DeVito of NJCF virtually echoed those same DEP false comments: (NJ Spotlight, 12/13/22)

“Most of the thinning happens with a mower – its not a lawn mower its a forestry mower. But they’re not really removing any large trees. Most of them are only a few inches in diameter. They’re all short and bent over, those are the things being removed, for the most part. They’ll resprout anyway.”

But in sharp contrast to those lies, here is how the DEP’s Natural Heritage Program described the forests, habitat, and natural resources (attachments to August 18, 2022 letter to DEP Forest Fire Service), which documented numerous rare plant species and ecological communities; rare wildlife species and habitat; vernal pool habitat; and two Natural Heritage Priority Sites:

A large patch of pitch pine shrub oak barrens and pine plants in broad sandy uplands…

An extensive dwarf pitch pine/scrub oak forest. …

Exemplary stand of globally imperiled natural community. Also a number of globally rare plants and animals are present.

This microsite contains a globally imperiled natural community and a number of globally rare plants and animals.

So is this forest “unhealthy, suppressed, and poorly formed trees” (DEP) and “all short and bent over” (Emile DeVito, NJCF)?

Or is it an “Exemplary stand of globally imperiled natural community. Also a number of globally rare plants and animals are present.” (DEP Natural Heritage Program).

In the 21 acre DEP logging at the Glassboro WMA, Emile DeVito (NJCF) was particularly concerned about “barred owl and red-shouldered hawk.”

But the adversely impacted incredibly rich and diverse habitat and rare plant and animal species in the 1,400 acre Pinelands logging he supported identified by the DEP Natural Heritage program include:

1) carpenter frog; 2) pine barrens tree frog; 3) bald eagle; 4) barred owl; 5) black-billed cuckoo; 6) brown thrasher; 7) common nighthawk; 8) northern parula; 9) red shouldered hawk; 10) snowy egret; 11) whip-poor-will;  12) wood thrush; 13) bobcat; 14) eastern box turtle; 15) northern pine snake; 16) timber rattlesnake; 17) seven species of rare vascular plants; 18) one species rare non-vascular plant; 19) three rare terrestrial communities; 20) two Natural heritage Priority sites; and 21) many more adversely impacts rare species and habitat within the immediate vicinity.

Why didn’t NJCF or PPA raise any concerns about DEP destroying 1,400 acres of this rich forest habitat?

(Sorry, no links – but I am glad to provide the all the data tables from DEP NHS letter, none of which PPA or NJCF mention in defending and promoting the DEP logging plan).

Source: NJ DEP Natural Heritage program

Source: NJ DEP Natural Heritage program

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Another Tough Night For Cornell At ECAC Championship – Harvard Wins 1-0 In OT

March 17th, 2023 No comments
Source: 2012 ECAC Tournament Semi-Final Harvard crushed Cornell 6-1

Source: 2012 ECAC Tournament Semi-Final Harvard crushed Cornell 6-1 (Photo: Bill Wolfe)

We’ve been following Cornell Big Red Hockey even before I went to graduate school there in the early 1980’s.

When I was in 8th grade, I was the water-boy for my high school hockey team (later to  be named a Westchester-Rockland High School All-County defenseman in 1973-74 and 1974-75). That year, we took a roadtrip to Ithaca High School in 1970. We were trounced in a weekend series with Ithaca HS, but were treated to an incredible Cornell – Boston University game at Lynah rink, the year Cornell went undefeated and won the national championship.

Before we were Cornell fans, we hated the Cornell Big Red when I was an undergraduate at Clarkson in 1975, and skated on weekends with, served as road trip designated driver for, and roomed with and hung out with the hockey team and future NHL star Dave Taylor. (Hint to college administrators: never assign a freshman to room with varsity hockey players!)

Over the last 40+ years, we’ve attended many years at ECAC Championship tournaments, at Lake Placid and then Boston Garden (my X-wife was a varsity letter winner on Cornell women’s hockey team and we brought our son to Boston Garden in 1989 at 2 months of age). The tournament then moved to Albany and then Atlantic City and then back again to Lake Placid.

I’ve been consistently disappointed in their tournament play. I blame head coach Mike Schafer (who I saw play defense in graduate school in 1983-85).

Last night was the same old same old choke as Harvard won a 0-0 tie in overtime, after just 4:38 of overtime play.

As usual, the Cornell offense was anemic (I think they had just 15 shots on goal and 2 or 3 legitimate scoring chances) and little offensive zone puck possession, but the defense was strong.

In the typical fashion of Mike Schafer’s defensive approach, at least three times, when the Cornell offense had rare puck control deep in the offensive zone, they changed up lines and voluntarily surrendered the puck. WTF!

Ironically, on Harvard’s winning goal, the offensive line was trapped out of position deep in the offensive zone and a sophomore defenseman (#27) was caught way out of position on a 3-2 break. Harvard scored in an open net as the goal tender also overplayed the situation and was way out of position.

I doubt that Cornell, ranked #10 nationally before this game, will secure an NCAA tournament bid. So, it looks like their season is over.

Once again, there’s always next year (but at least the Big Red band again played an awesome rendition of Oh Canada! before the start of the game).

2012 ECAC semi-final

2012 ECAC semi-final (Photo: Bill Wolfe)

for photos, see

Tough Night for Cornell Hockey

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Military Secrets In The NJ Pinelands: Behind Closed Doors, Military Funding Has Huge Influence On DEP Management Of State Forests

March 17th, 2023 No comments

Pentagon Ordered DEP To Maintain Secrecy 

DEP Lied To The Pinelands Commission, The Media, And The Public

Part One: The Maps Set The Stage

Source: NJDEP. Note the date: April 2020

Source: NJDEP.
Note the date: April 2020

After weeks of delay, the DEP has finally responded to my Open Public Records Act (OPRA) request for government documents on military funding of DEP forestry projects in the Pinelands.

Today, I will begin the series describing the deeply troubling  information I obtained from these documents. Among other things:

  • The documents tell a story of how the US military has a cozy relationship with and behind the scenes exerts a huge and hidden influence over DEP public lands management and conservation policies and practices, not only in the Pinelands but along the NJ coast as well;
  • The documents show that the military funding drives DEP priorities and land management practices – including the location of projects – far more than any public preferences and/or the policies stated in official DEP plans and regulations;
  • The documents show that the military ordered DEP to keep the military funding, military objectives, and project scope secret, and that DEP acceded to the military’s secrecy request;
  • The documents show that, in order to comply with the military secrecy demand, that DEP misled the Pinelands Commission, and submitted intentionally misleading and materially false regulatory documents to the Pinelands Commission, including a highly unusual letter from DEP Commissioner LaTourette that threatened a lawsuit if the Commission failed to quickly approve the DEP plan;
  • The documents show that DEP lied to the media and the public about the military objectives and funding of their Forest Management Plan and that DEP provided a false rationale to support the project to mask these military objectives;
  • The documents show that DEP falsely claimed in the military REPI grant application that their Pinelands Forestry plan had received “all permits”, long BEFORE the Pinelands Commission approved the DEP plan on October 14, 2022;
  • The documents show – similar to how inappropriate military equipment is provided to local police forces – that DEP used military money to buy industrial commercial logging equipment;
  • The documents show that DEP defined the “project” to include 1.2 million acres, thereby setting the stage for dramatic future expansion and ongoing military funding; and
  • The documents strongly suggest that conservation groups who actively supported and publicly promoted the DEP forestry plan – one of whom is identified as a “partner” by the military in the REPI program – were either duped by the military or also knowingly lied to the Pinelands Commission, media, and public about the military funding and objectives.

It’s all bad: for forestry, its log and burn to protect the military bases.

On “climate resilience” (flooding, shore protection, etc), the DEP protects military assets more than people and public infrastructure, in terms of where they conduct projects and the projects they pursue.

[Only after the military allowed them to, on February 22, 2023, DEP issued a highly spun press release, long after the fact, that obscures the actual project (which even had different names) and the timing on REPI funding and Pinelands Commission approval. This is more a a self disclosed coverup than an honest press statement. I sense that DEP did this to try to get out front of my disclosures, as I previously had written about the military angle in November. ]

We will break all this down in this series, as I disclose the contents of the military and DEP documents.

To begin Part One today, before I discuss the text of the documents, I will first post  just a few maps of the program, which are extremely revealing. These are all DEP maps submitted as part of the military REPI grant applications. The full DEP OPRA response is available upon request.

Readers should closely examine how land is described and classified (e.g. “military influence area”), the names of the projects, and the dates on the maps:

Note that this map has no date.

Note that this map has no date.

Note date: July 2022

Note date: July 2022

Note date: November 2022 (conflicts with prior REPI grant application)

Note date: November 2022 (conflicts with prior REPI grant application and other maps

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Pinelands Commission Admits That Staff Shortfalls “Inhibit” Implementation Of Gov. Murphy’s Climate Goals And Programs

March 15th, 2023 No comments

Despite Staff Shortfall, Commission Has More Staff Assigned To “Business Services” Than To Science – And NONE With Climate Expertise

More Evidence That Gov. Murphy’s Climate Program Is All Spin, No Substance

I’ve long urged the Pinelands Commission to take serious actions to amend the Comprehensive Management Plan (CMP) to address climate science and implement enforceable energy, climate, wildfire, and forestry policies.

The lack of climate policies and enforceable CMP requirements again was exposed recently during the Commission’s review and approval of a DEP Forestry Plan.

That DEP Forestry plan, among other things, purported to justify logging 1,400 acres of forest as part of a “carbon defense” climate policy.

During the Commission’s review of the DEP plan, regulatory staff manager Chuck Horner openly admitted on the public record that the Commission lacked staff expertise in critical areas (forestry, wildfire, climate) and therefore deferred to DEP’s expertise.

It is absurd for a regulatory agency to defer to the expertise of an applicant seeking their regulatory approval.

So, given these self acknowledged staff deficits, I was appalled to read the Commission’s most recent February Monthly Management Report, where they again openly admit crucial staff deficits on climate related issues:

  • Interagency Council on Climate Change (IAC): Staff attended two meetings in February for IAC action, one on February 8, and the second on February 14, 2023. At the February 8 meeting, the Executive Director and a member of the Planning Office staff met with the NJ Deputy Climate Resilience Officer (DCRO). Staff confirmed the IAC’s receipt of the revised Pinelands Commission “Agency at a Glance” summary, advised the DCRO of upcoming staff shortages at the Commission that may inhibit the Commission’s ability to meet all IAC deliverable deadlines, and reviewed the timeline for completion of agency Extreme Heat Resilience Action Plans.

Governor Murphy’s Interagency Council on Climate Change (IAC) is not an aggressive policy initiative, so the Pinelands Commission can’t even clear a very low bar.

The IAC is really about consolidating, centralizing, and assuring top down policy and political control of climate policy by the Governor’s Office.

It is designed to keep all State agencies from getting out in front of the Governor or DEP on climate policy. The Governor wants unilateral control and a free hand to issue self serving and highly spun press releases and Executive Orders on climate.

As a result, the IAC is an unwieldy and unaccountable group of bureaucrats that are doing nothing more than slow walking climate policy and politically protecting Gov. Murphy.

The fact that an independent planning and regulatory agency like the Pinelands Commission can not act on climate without a Green Light from the Governor’s Office and his IAC should outrage all climate activists and advocates of good government.

Worse, after I had received and read the Commission’s Monthly Management Report, today I received a “Pinelands Job Opportunities!” announcement from the Commission. They are seeking 2 new professional staff, but not in any climate science or planning related field.

Despite just admitting that they lacked adequate staff to implement the Governor’s climate goals and policy initiatives, they are hiring a traditional civil engineer and another information specialist!


The Commission’s Organization Chart exposes the fact that they have more staff in “Business Services” (5) and “Information Systems” (5) than in Science (4) – and none in climate science.

That does not reflect a serious response to the climate emergency, by both the Pinelands Commission and Governor Murphy’s office and IAC.

So, I fired off this note to the Pinelands Commission (and a similar note to the Highlands Council that I will write about in future). I don’t expect a reply:

Dear Pinelands Commission and Executive Director Grogan:

According to the Commission’s February Monthly Management Report: (emphasis mine)

Staff confirmed the IAC’s receipt of the revised Pinelands Commission “Agency at a Glance” summary, advised the DCRO of upcoming staff shortages at the Commission that may inhibit the Commission’s ability to meet all IAC deliverable deadlines, and reviewed the timeline for completion of agency Extreme Heat Resilience Action Plans.”

According the the Commission’s Organizational chart, there are more staff (5 in each) in “Information Systems” and “Business Services” than in Science (4):

During the recent debate on DEP’s Wildfire Plan, Chuck Horner stated on the public record that the Commission lacked stafff expertise in forestry, wildfire, and climate science. Those deficits forced the Commission to defer to the DEP expertise (deference to the expertise on an applicant seeking regulatory approval is, at best, mismanagement.)

For years, I’ve been urging the Commission to beef up its climate science and planning staff and functions to respond to the climate crisis, yet the Commission still has NO STAFF with climate expertise and experience.

So, given these critical staff deficits, why is the Commission using scarce budget resources to hire another Information Systems staffer and a traditional civil engineer?

Executive Director Grogan, I request that you distribute this email to the full Commission.

I look forward to your timely response.

Bill Wolfe

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