Take Action: Protect New Jersey’s Forests!

Tell the Legislature to oppose the series of Bills moving through the NJ Legislature that will change how we protect New Jersey’s forests.

Use the Letter Writing Tool to write to the Sponsors of these Bills and the members of the Senate and Assembly Committees currently reviewing them.

Write a letter to the Legislature!

To go one step further, you can can call or write to your state representative to alert them to the serious risks these Bills present.

Find your legislator: https://www.njleg.state.nj.us/districts/municipalities.asp

 

What is happening?

In New Jersey forest stewardship has come to be a catch all term for forestry that includes cutting large swaths of New Jersey’s oldest intact forest on state preserved lands. Many Forest Stewardship Plans are paid for by the sale of timber from a site being managed. This coupling of conservation and contract logging is incredibly problematic, especially on our public lands.

The impacts of mechanized logging, as a component of so called “Forest Stewardship” is devastating to the ecological values of our public forests. There are five Bills before the Senate Environment and Energy Committee and the Assembly Appropriations Committee that promote unnecessary and destructive timber management operations that threaten New Jersey’s public forests. In their current drafts these Bills do nothing to ensure needed stewardship, and instead enable logging and single interest management on our public lands. 

Together these Bills will open up our preserved lands, held in the public trust, to timber extraction, by mandating so called Forest Stewardship Plans to be prepared for all forested public lands at an enormous cost to land managers, prevent municipal oversight and public participation in the the preparation and implementation of the Plans, and require an arbitrary minimum number of acres of prescribed burns every year, while circumventing the regional authority charged with managing forests in the Pinelands.

Understand the issues with the proposed Bills?

S-2001/ A-3086: Establishes forest stewardship program for State-owned lands.

Sponsors: Sen. Smith, Sen. Bateman, and Assm. McKeon

  • This Bill allows for public forests to become available for commercial timber harvesting, and that a wood products industry be developed on of our preserved woodlands!

S-3549/ A-4843: Requires forest stewardship plan for certain lands acquired for recreation and conservation purposes.

Sponsors: Sen. Smith, Assw. Murphy, Assm. Houghtaling, and Assm. Space

  • This Bill mandates the preparation and implementation of a Forest Stewardship Plan for all State, County, Municipal and non-profit owned forested lands of 25 acres of greater. Forest Stewardship Plans are typically written to enhance the productivity of a forest, and rarely include any measures to meaningfully address the documented threats impacting our forests; overabundant deer, invasive plant species spread, and pathogens.

S-3550/ A-4844: Provides that municipal approval is not required for forest stewardship plans.

Sponsors: Sen. Smith, Assm. Armato, Assm. Houghtaling, Assm. Dancer, and Assm. Space

  • Eliminating municipal approval from the procedure for implementing a Forest Steward Plan effectively disenfranchises the public as a stakeholder in the management and conservation of public lands. Further, in instances where the forest is owned by a municipality local government will no longer have control over the outcome, despite being burdened with the costs.

S-3548/ A-4845: Sets minimum acreage goal and schedule for prescribed burns in pinelands area and Statewide.

Sponsors: Sen. Smith, Assm, Mazzeo, Assm. Armato, Assm. Houghtaling, and Assm. Space

  • The minimum acreages recommended in this Bill are 50,000 acres in the Pinelands region and an additional 10,000 acres in the rest of the state. There is no justification for setting minimum targets for prescribed burns in New Jersey. Currently prescribed burns are carried out where necessary, and the only limiting factors are seasonal and weather conditions that ensure the activity can be conducted safely.

S-3547/ A-4846: Establishes a working group to evaluate coordination and cooperation between various government entities and private landowners with respect to forest stewardship in pinelands area.

Sponsors: Sen. Smith, Assm. Houghtaling, Assm. Dancer, Assm. Simonsen, and Assm. McClellan

  • There is no need for the formation of such a group. The Pinelands Commission and NJ DEP are empowered to develop policies and deal with the interests of both government entities and private landowners. This Bill appears to circumvent the authority of the Pinelands Commission regarding forestry policy in the Pinelands.

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