Thursday, November 18, 2021

2021 FMP concerns, requests and call to action

Ladies of mystery Save Roaring Rock Park
Concerned Township residents showing their support!
Washington Township, Warren County, NJ

The following is an archive of our "About Us" page, as it existed during 2021 when Washington Township Warren County had an active Forest Management Plan with Gracie and Harrigan, a forestry consultant. At that time, the Township was embarking on the first year of a ten year commercial logging plan for Roaring Rock Park. After nine months of public lobbying, Township terminated the FMP by adopting Resolution 21-193.

What are our main concerns?

  1. The Township Committee has developed a forest management plan without visible notice to the public or adjacent landowners.    After this issue was brought to the Committee's attention during open public meetings in March 2021, the Township still proceeded to start commercial logging in June 2021 ("Phase One") without prior notice to public.   Even after a request made in an open public meeting, they have rejected the public's reasonable request to implement stakeholder management and proactive communications.
  2. The June 2021 logging activity at the park occurred during the summertime, during peak vegetative growth and wildlife reproductive seasons.    Forest Management activities are typically performed during winter months.    The Township and its logging contractors clearly disregarded what is usual and normally performed, despite the Plan referring to "Best Practices" will be utilized in the park, 
  3. The June 2021 logging activity cut ten foot wide access roads where pristine forest floor once lay.   Moreover, these access roads come very close to Brass Castle Creek with its natural reproducing trout populations.   The access roads lay well within the 300 foot activity free buffer typically specified by New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP),
  4. Access roads created by contractors
    close to Brass Castle Creek

    Roaring Rock Park, Washington Township, Warren County NJ
  5. By bulldozing these access roads so close to Brass Castle Creek, the summertime rain season is creating muddy conditions around the logging area.  These conditions pose soil erosion and silt runoff threats to Brass Castle Creek and its native fish populations, 
  6. The repeated removal of trees , which typically weight over 1000 pounds, over access roads by the heavy “skid steer” machinery will damage the established and sprawling root systems of the trees which exist adjacent to the access roads.   By damaging their root systems, these trees that are not subjected to harvesting will likely die a slow death ("die off") compounding the total tree loss in the forest,
  7. Shallow root system of trees in Roaring Rock Park
    Shallow root system of trees
    Roaring Rock Park, Washington Township, Warren County NJ
  8. Removal of trees open up the forest canopy to sunlight, and when sunlight increases on the forest floor the invasive plant species that now exist at Roaring Rock Park will flourish and increase their foothold.    As the FMP and its amendment do not provide for control of invasive plants, the remaining native plants will be further overrun by invasive species,
  9. It is clear that the logging contractor is removing mature, healthy tree trunks and logs from the site.    During Phase One logging in June 2021, the loggers left an amazing amount of tree crowns (tree tops) which have been cut off the trees prior to their removal.   These crowns have been left piled deeply in the woods, trampling the forest floor habitat.  These piled branches and leaves will add to the forest floor fuel load as they dry, compounding the risk of wildfire.    You often hear one of the benefits of FMP is to reduce forest fire hazard.   This particular activity is increasing the fire load and threat.  
  10. The current FMP, and its amendment in June 2021, do NOT specify remediation of the site after logging activities cease.  Therefore, there is no proactive plan to remediate the soil erosion and run off conditions created by the summertime rain storms on the access roads.   These muddy access roads will continue to pose these threats until the forest "naturally recovers" as indicated in the Plan and its amendment.    The threats to Brass Castle Creek will only be remediated by Mother Nature and on her timetable, and it is uncertain when she will get around to it,
  11. Deer population in New Jersey poses a threat to vegetation.    Deer are particularly fond of tree saplings and small plants for a food source.   As stated in point #8, the Township and its logging contractors are making a conscious decision to let the forest "naturally recover."   What this means: if the trees are to regenerate without planting, seeds must sprout and saplings must develop, and browsing deer will naturally attack them for a food source.   Therefore, the FMP plan for forest regeneration will be compromised by browsing deer.   Note the FMP does not address deer population control. 

What are our requests of Washington Township Committee?

Area residents speak out on July 20 2021
Area residents speak out
Open Public Meeting on July 20th 2021
  1. IMMEDIATELY CEASE, and DO NOT ENGAGE IN FUTURE, summertime logging activities (in other words: follow FMP best practices!),
  2. Create and implement a proactive stakeholder management plan which now does not exist.    The Township does not inform the public of activities it takes in a public park whose maintenance is funded by public tax dollars,
  3. Through stakeholder management, inform the public of future logging activities, BEFORE THEY START,
  4. Meet with the New Jersey Highlands Coalition and their subject matter experts in forest ecology to collaborate on a forest management plan that is ecologically focused and provides for sustainable forest regeneration, with minimal threats to the wildlife that live inside the park.

What can you do ?

Team SRRP at NNO Aug 2021
Team SRRP present in the local community
National Night Out, Washington Township, August 3rd, 2021
  1. Visit and use Roaring Rock Park.    If you do not know where it is, click HERE to pull up a Google Map of its location.   Use the hiking trails that were built from years of volunteer labor.   If you are a fisherman, enjoy fishing Brass Castle Creek.
  2. Consider visiting the June 2021 logging sites at the intersection of Brass Castle and Brass Castle/Harmony Roads, and on the eastern side of Brass Castle Road between Brass Castle/Harmony and Hartmans Corner Roads.  Stare at the logging access roads at these locations.  Observe the conditions left by the logging contractors after they finished harvesting fifteen acres during a few weeks in June.   If you do so, be mindful as you walk around the logging sites.
  3. Read the blog posts on this site from Sara Webb, Ph. D., Professor emeritus of Biology, Drew University, and John Trontis, former Assistant Director of NJDEP Division of Parks and Forestry, that convey their concerns about the Roaring Rock Park FMP.
  4. Consider the opinions of those who believe that FMP will help the forest grow stronger after the harvesting of trees.
  5. Then imagine, and visualize in your mind, how the results of a few weeks of logging in June 2021 will scale across Roaring Rock Park over the ten year duration of the Forest Management Plan.
  6. Then ask yourself:  will you and your children, decades from now, be able to enjoy Roaring Rock Park as it currently exists?  Or will your and your children's experience of the park be different as it struggles to "naturally recover?"  Will "different" be "better"?  Will you and they be satisfied, in the end, from the results of ten years of "forest management" being started by the Township and its logging contractors?
  7. If, after you do these activities, you find yourself as concerned and fired up as we are now, engage Washington Township Committee during their regular open public meetings which occur the third Tuesday of each month, starting at 7:30 PM.   Tell them during the open public comment part of the meeting agenda the concerns now in your mind.    If you can not attend in person, or if public speaking makes you anxious, write them a letter with your concerns and ask them to enter it into the public record.
  8. Washington Township, Warren County NJ Municipal Building
    Washington Township, Warren County, Municipal Building
    211 Route 31 North, Washington NJ, 07882

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Township Committee TERMINATES RRP Forest Management Plan

Roaring Rock Park Autumn 2021
Roaring Rock Park - Autumn 2021
Washington Township, Warren County, NJ

During the November 16th, 2021 open public meeting, Washington Township Warren County NJ Committee unanimously voted to adopt Resolution 21-193 ...

Washington Township Warren County NJ Resolution 21-193 that terminates Roaring Rock Park FMP

... terminating the Forest Management Plan designed for Roaring Rock Park.  As an outcome, we do not anticipate further logging of the park as outlined under this ten year plan.

Team SRRP thanks the Committee for their decision, and those of you who donated their time and resources to get to this point!

What lies next ?
Blue Trail descent Roaring Rock Park Autumn 2021
Descending the Blue Trail towards Brass Castle Creek
Washington Township, Warren County, NJ

Our team intends to evolve towards being more proactive, constructively engaging the Township to preserve and improve the park and other passive recreational sites like it.   We hope you will join us as we move forward.  Check back here frequently, follow us on social media using the links at the bottom of this page and look for future email newsletters to learn more.

Again -- THANK YOU for your support!

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