Wednesday, June 2, 2021

Washington Borough, Hunterdon County NJ oppose forest management bills

Shabbacong Creek, Shabbacong Mountain Preserve, Washington Borough, Warren County NJ
Shabbacong Creek
downslope from Shabbacong Mountain Preserve

Washington Borough, Warren County NJ

On Tuesday June 1st, 2021 the local municipal council of Washington Borough in Warren County and Hunterdon County Board of Commissioners passed resolutions in opposition to three bills (A-4843/S-3549 A-4844/S-3550 A-4845/S-3548) being considered by the New Jersey state legislature.   These two local municipalities' actions followed that of Warren County on May 12th, 2021.

If passed, these bills would have a devastating effect on New Jersey public lands, for parcels whose size is as small as twenty five (25) acres.   These bills will mandate municipalities to obtain and implement "Forest Management Plans" (FMPs), similar to the one being considered for Roaring Rock Park in Washington Township.  These "plans", despite their benign sounding titles, are primarily commercial logging plans whose primary intent is to transform New Jersey public lands into large scale tree farms, and away from what should be their purpose: to preserve, protect and promote their natural resources and to provide recreational opportunities to residents.  

For Washington Borough the impact would be realized on the Shabbacong Mountain Preserve, an approximate 80 acre tract of land acquired with Green Acre Funding.   Washington Borough residents, in coordination with the local municipality, have designated this property for recreational use.

The actions of Washington Borough and Hunterdon County acknowledge:

  1. These bills will essentially create new unfunded mandates, requiring compliance by local government to state law while not providing state funding to local municipalities to facilitate compliance, and remediation of the damage that will result from logging activities;
    1. Adding insult to injury, these bills will prohibit local governments, and their taxpayers, from influencing activities arising from FMPs (the same constituents who would be paying for the implementation!);
    2. These bills will primarily facilitate commercial logging activities, not the retention, protection and promotion of the natural resources (trees, water and wildlife) that reside on New Jersey's public lands (the same resources that make the lands valuable in the first place!)

    Washington Borough and Hunterdon County join a growing list of local municipalities and organizations in opposition to these bills:

    1. Washington Borough, Warren County
    2. Warren County
    3. Hunterdon County    
    4. Monmouth County
    5. Ringwood
    6. West Milford
    7. Raritan
    8. Buena Vista
    9. Clinton
    10. Hardyston
    11. Washington Township, Burlington County
    12. Harding Township 
    13. Rockleigh
    14. Tenafly 
    15. Parsippany – Troy Hills 
    16. South Brunswick 
    17. Lacey Township 
    18. Shamong Township
    19. Princeton
    20. New Jersey League of Municipalities

    We commend Washington Borough Council and the Hunterdon Board of County Commissioners for adopting a well written resolution and proclamation that acknowledge the ecological and recreational value of public lands and forests, and their positive effects on making their communities desirable places to live.   

    Below are images of the adopted Borough resolution and Hunterdon County proclamation. We urge local New Jersey municipalities to consider adopting similar resolutions, especially if they have open public space greater than twenty five (25) acres.

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