NJ lawmakers, vote no on trio of logging bills

Our public lands and forests are at risk for commercial logging and prescribed burn operations under legislation that is currently making its way through the Legislature. There are three bills in the Legislature that could clear cut as much as 2 million acres of land held in the public trust and burn 60,000 acres a year. Destroying our forests undermines any chance of reducing climate impacts. Instead, it will add millions of tons of air pollution and cause serious health issues.

New Jersey has not allowed logging on state forest lands since the early 1960s. New Jersey Green Acres land is managed for conservation and recreation, not forestry and logging. In 2010, former Gov. Chris Christie opened land for forestry and logging. Now under the Forest Stewardship bill, A4843, logging could apply to almost 2 million acres of open space in the state, including state forests, state parks, Wildlife Management Areas, county parks, municipal parks and more.

In New Jersey, our open spaces are held in the public trust and treasured by people across the state. This logging bill breaks that trust. Our forests must be preserved to protect our water quality, especially in the Highlands region. The Highlands Act was passed to save our canopy forests to protect streams, forests and biodiversity — not logging.

Logging creates a welcome environment for invasive species and deer overpopulation. This changes the ecology and displaces important species like cerulean warblers and neotropical songbirds. There are 75 different species of neotropical songbirds that would be impacted by this legislation, in addition to harming already threatened and endangered bat species.

Legislators must oppose this legislation lest we turn the Highlands and Pinelands into the Stumplands. Towns and nonprofits that own open space will have to go out and hire loggers and put together a plan, so this legislation is an unfunded mandate. It will cost towns and the state millions of dollars. Money doesn’t grow on trees.

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