The forest of Roaring Rock Park lies at the heart of the Brass Castle & Pohatcong Creek Watersheds, nestled between Montana and Oxford Mountains. An ill-conceived logging plan to harvest up to 11,000 trees for lumber and firewood over 10 years from the park will destroy the beauty of the hiking trails, severely degrade a pristine trout fishing stream, and ruin important habitat for numerous wildlife species.
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Our opposition to this proposal grows from experience of how destructive these plans turn out to be for the environments they are proposed for. Further, logging management is wrong for New Jersey’s fragile natural forests, unnecessary for maintenanceor forest health, but very harmful to these ecosystems. If the State’s goals are biodiversity and forest health, we should instead manage deer and invasive species, not extract living, healthy, mature trees. Unfortunately, stating that “Best Management Practices” will be followed is no guarantee of minimizing damage.
What’s in the plan?
- Cutting large swaths of the forest: 260 acres (over 197 football fields) over 10 years;
- Cutting down 11,000 or more trees;
- Turning hiking trails into roads for logging equipment, exposing soil to erosion and to invasive plants;
- Truck trafﬁc will be heavy on local roads, to transport heavy machinery and logs;
- Water quality is at risk in at least one trout-stocked C1 creek: Brass Castle Creek. Water quality in other locations could suffer as could the reliability of surface and groundwater supplies;
- Logging activity will increase soil erosion, increase stormwater runoff which will compromise the fishing creek. These problems will be most severe where logging is planned on Roaring Rock’s steep terrain.
- Habitat and wildlife would be greatly harmed, except for deer one of the most destructive threats to forests, which would increase.
The cost to the town:
The logging plan acknowledges that it may be necessary to plant new trees to control erosion. It is expensive to replace lost trees and keep the land forested. Even with great effort and investment, it can be impossible to successfully restore forests, because of deer and invasive species. Costs include the purchase and the planting of new trees and successfully growing them, and the cost of protecting any new trees from deer with 10′ fencing and exclosures and controlling invasive plant species which can dominate in disturbed areas. All of this is labour intensive and expensive!
Beyond the ecological damage this plan risks, repairing the popular trails through the park after they have been used as logging roadways is also costly and will require extra effort to control invasive plant species;
The NJ Highlands Coalition’s position for how New Jersey should be managing forests on public land is detailed in our White Paper, Policy Recommendations for Forest Stewardship & Preservation of New Jersey’s Public Lands, co-authored by expert ecologists and academics in forest science.
If you would like to dive even deeper into the science for why we need to preserve our forests for their ecosystem services and value for mitigating the worst impacts of climate change, check out this compendium of peer reviewed literature: Forests and Climate Science Literature.