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A Fire Plan Would Remove 2.4 Million Trees From The New Jersey Pinelands!

An initiative to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfires would require the removal of up to 2.4 million trees from a federally protected New Jersey forest. The plan to kill trees in a portion of the Bass River State Forest in New Jersey is intended to better protect against catastrophic wildfires, according to state environmental officials.

The plan will mostly affect small, scraggly trees, rather than the towering giants for which the Pinelands National Refuge is known and loved. However, environmentalists are divided on the proposal, which was approved on October 14 by the New Jersey Pinelands Commission and is scheduled to begin in April.

A Fire Plan Would Remove 2.4 Million Trees From The New Jersey Pinelands!

While some see it as a necessary and acceptable response to the threat of wildfires, others see it as an inexcusable waste of trees that would no longer be able to store carbon at a time when climate change threatens the entire planet.

The Pinelands sit above an aquifer that provides some of the purest drinking water in the country, therefore opponents are also concerned about the use of herbicides to prevent the resurgence of exotic species.

And despite the state’s protestations, some of them are concerned that the idea could be a backdoor to logging the protected woodlands under the pretense of fire prevention. The idea is “shameful” and “Orwellian,” according to Jeff Tittel, the former director of the New Jersey Sierra Club, who has since retired.

A Fire Plan Would Remove 2.4 Million Trees From The New Jersey Pinelands!

Mark Lohbauer, a commissioner for the Pinelands, voted against the proposal because he thought it was unwise. He warns that it could be harmful to rare snakes and adds that his research into western forestry practices has led him to the conclusion that tree thinning is useless in preventing major wildfires.

He remarked, “We are in an age of climate change; it is incumbent on us to do our utmost to conserve these trees that are sequestering carbon. Tree cutting shouldn’t be done until it’s really necessary.

About 1,300 acres (526 hectares) are included in the proposal; this is a negligible portion of the larger 1.1 million acres (445,150 hectares) Pinelands preserve that is under federal and state protection and has been designated a unique biosphere by the United Nations.

A Fire Plan Would Remove 2.4 Million Trees From The New Jersey Pinelands!

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The state has indicated that most of the trees to be cut down had a diameter of fewer than two inches (five cm). The state Department of Environmental Protection warned that the dense undergrowth of these smaller trees can act as “ladder fuel,” bringing fire from the forest floor up to the treetops, where flames can spread swiftly and the wind might worsen, whipping up blazes.

Using information from the state’s application, a Pinelands commissioner determined that 2.4 million trees would be cut down by multiplying the percentage loss in tree density by the total area of land that would be impacted.

A Fire Plan Would Remove 2.4 Million Trees From The New Jersey Pinelands!

Neither that amount nor another estimate was offered by the department, suggesting that neither is considered reliable. It did, however, note that “the total number of trees removed could be large.”

When Chief Todd Wyckoff of the New Jersey Forest Service stroked a small pine tree, the kind that will be harvested frequently, he stated, “This is like liquid gasoline in the Pinelands.” “I see a forest that is in danger of being burned down.

In my mind, this is a step toward making the forest seem more like it should.” Government foresters and timber sector officials both agree that tree thinning is a necessary part of forest management in many parts of the country.

A Fire Plan Would Remove 2.4 Million Trees From The New Jersey Pinelands!

This practice is widely adopted because it reduces the likelihood of catastrophic forest fires. Some environmental groups, however, argue that thinning is ineffective.

For the New Jersey project, “an entire canopy will be maintained across the land,” which means that the smallest snow-bent pitch pine trees would be prioritized for harvesting.

However, the state’s application calls for a reduction in canopy cover from 68% to 43% across almost 1,000 acres (405 hectares), with even bigger reductions envisaged for smaller portions.

Not only will stunted trees be felled, but so will many thick, tall trees on either side of certain roadways in order to provide a wider fire break for firemen to stand in. According to state statistics, there are over 2,000 trees per acre in the impacted area, which is four times the usual density for the Pinelands.

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A Fire Plan Would Remove 2.4 Million Trees From The New Jersey Pinelands!

Department officials have stated that “it is not anticipated that any material of commercial value will be created as a result of this effort,” meaning that most of the felled trees will be turned into wood chips that will remain on the forest floor and eventually return to the soil.

However, there is a school of thought among environmentalists that says this may not be the case, and that the wood from cut trees might be utilized to make things like cordwood, wood pellets, or even glue.

I disagree with Lohbauer’s call to have any of that content removed. That stuff should stay in the woods, where it may help sustain wildlife and be broken down into new soil. Even if it’s turned into wood pellets, a common fuel for fireplaces and stoves, the carbon is still released.
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A Fire Plan Would Remove 2.4 Million Trees From The New Jersey Pinelands!

A department assistant commissioner named John Cecil has stated that the department has no interest in making money off of any timber that may be harvested from the property. However, he did say that if some trees were cut down “could be put to good use and bring in money for the government, then why not do it?

[ADINSETER AMP]

The world won’t end if we find a way to implement this that still achieves the plan’s primary objectives while also generating some more income. These trees could potentially be used as fence posts.”

The Pinelands district is the largest body of open space along the mid-Atlantic seaboard between Richmond, Virginia, and Boston, and it covers 22 percent of New Jersey’s land area, which makes it home to 135 unique plant and animal species.

A Fire Plan Would Remove 2.4 Million Trees From The New Jersey Pinelands!

It was established by an act of Congress in 1978. There’s also an aquifer there, which supplies about 64 trillion liters of water, or 17 trillion gallons. As one former department official put it on his environmental blog,

“it is unacceptable to be cutting down trees amid a climate emergency,” and the loss of 2.4 million little trees will have a “severe reduction” in future carbon storage capacity. The plan has the backing of Carleton Montgomery, director of the Pinelands Preservation Alliance.

[ADINSETER AMP]

A Fire Plan Would Remove 2.4 Million Trees From The New Jersey Pinelands!

They claimed opponents are using the number of trees that would be felled as an argument “to make people gasp in horror, claiming that they are missing the big picture by concentrating on how many trees need to be chopped down rather than on their relative size. There will be a thriving Pine Barrens forest as a result.”

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