Posts Tagged ‘development’

More Crazy Development in Parks – Washington Crossing State Park

August 21st, 2009 No comments
Pond at Washington Crossing State Park is unhealthy and in need of restoration

Pond at Washington Crossing State Park is unhealthy and in need of restoration

Last week, I wrote about destruction of Ken Lockwood Gorge by DEP (here) – so, my head again exploded to read about another mad development scheme yesterday.

Repeating that flawed land management policy, this time, DEP is planning on destroying forested portions of historic Washington Crossing State Park

Apparently, DEP wants to build a “30 bed cabin”  in “a deeply forrested” portion of the Park! And this is claimed to be a better alternative to the one vehemently opposed by neighbors!

The park is frequented by lots of day hikers.

The park is frequented by lots of day hikers.

There are plenty of alternatives and far better things to do with DEP money, especially in these times of austere budgets and a huge backlog in maintenance across the state park system.

At Washington Crossing, trails are in very bad shape.

Stream banks are eroding and badly in need of restoration.

A small pond is sedimented and eutrophic. Picnic areas need lots of work.

Historic structures are neglected.

structures are collapsing

structures are collapsing

The theater is falling apart and could use rehab work as well.



pinnic areas need lots of work

pinnic areas need lots of work

Habitat and forestry work has been neglected for years.



stream backs are eroding due to development surrounding park. More in park development will make current problems worse.

stream backs are eroding due to development surrounding park. More in park development will make current problems worse.



What the hell is going on in DEP?

Are the engineer lunatics running the show?

They need some adult supervision.

Destroying Nature to Make It “Accessible” – Paved Road, Parking Lots, Piers, and Pipes to “Improve” Pristine Ken Lockwood Gorge

August 18th, 2009 No comments


Father and son go fishing, but find destruction instead

Father and son go fishing, but find destruction instead

Like that proverbial Village in Vietnam that had to be destroyed to be saved, the DEP is destroying one of the few last remaining natural places to provide public access – you can view pictures of the destruction here.

Read the press acounts by Star Ledger here:

Naturalists dispute state’s idea of improvement


Sunday, August 02, 2009 –

The South Branch of the Raritan River sparkles on sunny summer mornings, crackling and babbling as it snakes through the towering, tree-covered ridges that define Ken Lockwood Gorge.

The wildlife management area is a 445-acre stretch of natural beauty tucked away in Hunterdon County, and its allure has attracted more than the usual mix of trout anglers whipping their fly rods and hikers searching for a brief afternoon of rustic serenity. Moms pushing strollers, friends walking dogs, picnickers lugging coolers and families pedaling bicycles are more frequent sights along the 2.5 miles of dirt, potholed road that hugs the south-side of the river bank.

Now they have company.

Backhoes, earth-movers and gravel-filled dump trucks are rumbling into the hemlock-lined gorge, along with engineers helping the state Department of Environmental Protection to accommodate throngs of visitors with what they call “improvements.” But some naturalists are calling it the destruction of the very thing people come to enjoy.” [link]

I’ve previously written and posted photo’s of the beauty of Ken Lockwood Gorge here.

But here is the recent story of how I happened upon this outrage.A few weeks back, on a fine July 1 day, my friend Benson Chiles gave me a call – he wanted to check out the fishing at a place called Natirar, a Somerset County park on the South Branch of the Raritan River. Glad to get out on a gorgeous day, I met him there. After a few hours with no luck, I suggested he might do better over at Ken Lockwood Gorge, so we headed over there.

I can’t tell you how pissed off we were to see this ugly, poorly designed and needless destruction. A paved road, parking lots, fishing piers, and drainage pipes suited for an interstate highway project in one of the last pristine places in NJ! 

I came back the next day and took pictures which I circulated to my colleagues and the press in an effort to to get word out to try and stop the project. I later found out that DEP defended the project as access and drainage “improvements”. But, curiously, the October 18, 2006 original project press release by former DEP Commissioner Jackson’ said nothing about any roads or piers – in fact, DEP press release issued at the time falsely claimed the road would become a trail and be closed to traffic – and no mention of pavement or piers.

But the trail only/road closure plan was scrapped along the way. DEP Deputy Commissioner Jay Watson has refused to identify who the “public” was that DEP allegedly responded to.

To clear this all up (someone at DEP is misleading the public), I filed an OPRA to find out what’s going on – my file review is tomorrow, 8/19/09.

We will keep you posted.

postscript – ironically, the Ken Lockwood destruction came to my attention at the same time I was re-reading Edward Abbey’s classic essay INDUSTRIAL TOURISM AND THE NATIONAL PARKSwhere he nails exactly what is going on here – just insert state for national:

“There may be some among the readers of this book, like the earnest engineer, who believe without question that any and all forms of construction and development are intrinsic goods, in the national parks as well as anywhere else, who virtually identify quantity with quality and therefore assume that the greater the quantity of traffic, the higher the value received. There are some who frankly and boldly advocate the eradication of the last remnants of wilderness and the complete subjugation of nature to the requirements of — not man — but industry. This is a courageous view, admirable in its simplicity and power, and with the weight of all modern history behind it. It is also quite insane. I cannot attempt to deal with it here….

The Park Service, established by Congress in 1916, was directed not only to administer the parks but also to “provide for the enjoyment of same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.” This appropriately ambiguous language, employed long before the onslaught of the automobile, has been understood in various and often opposing ways ever since. The Park Service, like any other big organization, includes factions and factions. The Developers, the dominant faction, place their emphasis on the words “provide for the enjoyment.” The Preservers, a minority but also strong, emphasize the words “leave them unimpaired.” It is apparent, then, that we cannot decide the question of development versus preservation by a simple referral to holy writ or an attempt to guess the intention of the founding fathers; we must make up our own minds and decide for ourselves what the national parks should be and what purpose they should serve.

The first issue that appears when we get into this matter, the most important issue and perhaps the only issue, is the one called accessibility. The Developers insist that the parks must be made fully accessible not only to people but also to their machines, that is, to automobiles, motorboats, etc. The Preservers argue, in principle at least, that wilderness and motors are incompatible and that the former can best be experienced, understood, and enjoyed when the machines are left behind where they belong — on the superhighways and in the parking lots, on the reservoirs and in the marinas.

What does accessibility mean? Is there any spot on earth that men have not proved accessible by the simplest means — feet and legs and heart? Even Mt. McKinley, even Everest, have been surmounted by men on foot. (Some of them, incidentally, rank amateurs, to the horror and indignation of the professional mountaineers.) The interior of the Grand Canyon, a fiercely hot and hostile abyss, is visited each summer by thousands and thousands of tourists of the most banal and unadventurous type, many of them on foot — self-propelled, so to speak — and the others on the backs of mules. Thousands climb each summer to the summit of Mt. Whitney, highest point in the forty-eight United States, while multitudes of others wander on foot or on horseback through the ranges of the Sierras, the Rockies, the Big Smokies, the Cascades and the mountains of New England. Still more hundreds and thousands float or paddle each year down the currents of the Salmon, the Snake, the Allagash, the Yampa, the Green, the Rio Grande, the Ozark, the St. Croix and those portions of the Colorado which have not yet been destroyed by the dam builders. And most significant, these hordes of nonmotorized tourists, hungry for a taste of the difficult, the original, the real, do not consist solely of people young and athletic but also of old folks, fat folks, pale-faced office clerks who don’t know a rucksack from a haversack, and even children. The one thing they all have in common is the refusal to live always like sardines in a can — they are determined to get outside of their motorcars for at least a few weeks each year.

This being the case, why is the Park Service generally so anxious to accommodate that other crowd, the indolent millions born on wheels and suckled on gasoline, who expect and demand paved highways to lead them in comfort, ease and safety into every nook and corner of the national parks? For the answer to that we must consider the character of what I call Industrial Tourism and the quality of the mechanized tourists — the Wheelchair Explorers — who are at once the consumers, the raw material and the victims of Industrial Tourism. …

Accustomed to this sort of relentless pressure since its founding, it is little wonder that the Park Service, through a process of natural selection, has tended to evolve a type of administration which, far from resisting such pressure, has usually been more than willing to accommodate it, even to encourage it. Not from any peculiar moral weakness but simply because such well-adapted administrators are themselves believers in a policy of economic development. “Resource management” is the current term. Old foot trails may he neglected, back-country ranger stations left unmanned, and interpretive and protective services inadequately staffed, but the administrators know from long experience that millions for asphalt can always be found; Congress is always willing to appropriate money for more and bigger paved roads, anywhere — particularly if they form loops. Loop drives are extremely popular with the petroleum industry — they bring the motorist right back to the same gas station from which he started.

read the whole Abbey essay here