SURPRISING FACTS ABOUT CREATING YOUNG FOREST IN NJ
- Maintaining 10% young forest by commercial logging requires clear-cutting 60% of the forest over time. Young forest habitat is 5-20 years old, so every 15 years you need to log again. Commercial loggers want to sell mature trees, not young trees, so every 15 years they will clear-cut another 10% of a mature section of forest. Over 90 years, that’s 60% of the forest, plus logging roads and staging areas throughout this 60%. Unlike NY and PA, NJ does not have enough forest to justify this much logging.
- Forest stewardship plans are exempt from all water regulations and are not reviewed by DEP Water Resources Management. Forest stewardship plans are exempt from the Highlands Act (which requires 300 foot buffers from all waters, even for cutting vegetation), the Flood Hazard Area Control Act, and the Freshwater Wetlands Protections Act. Loggers can log 25 feet from any water, including pristine C1 trout streams and in the Highlands (which supplies water to more than half of NJ). DEP is not monitoring water impacts from logging. Towns worry about floods and impacts to roads and dams.
- Forest Stewardship Certification (FSC) is meant for harvesting timber, not general conservation. NJ Audubon and legislators have embraced FSC for forest stewardship. Commercial loggers prefer oaks, which fetch high prices and grow best in sun (though also grow in shade). Hickories, birches, ash, pine and especially maples do well in shade, but are not worth as much. Commercial loggers want big, fast-growing oaks. The logging to foster this is not needed or appropriate on state land.
- Selling the timber requires the creation of logging roads and staging areas, which erode the land and invite ATVs that cause significant, sustained damage.
- Deer eat the understory, including young trees and shrubs, limiting forest regrowth. Plans to create young forest in NJ do not address deer overpopulation, which they say will increase.
- Maturing forests such as Sparta Mountain already host a wide range of species, including bobcat and even the elusive fisher. Sparta Mountain, for example, hosts over 130 rare and endangered plant, animal, bird and insect species – its conservation value scores are off the charts!
- Interior forest and rare species need protection. Under FSC, loggers can destroy half of the rare plants. Clear-cutting creates “edge effects” for 300 feet into the surrounding forest, exposing interior forest species to predators, cowbirds, and other parasitic species. The DEP does not monitor this.
- The DEP has not considered alternatives to commercial logging, including logging by hand and leaving the timber (and associated nutrients) on-site so that logging roads and heavy equipment are not needed. Green Acres program stewardship funding could be used for this.
- The DEP has no state-wide or regional plans or vision for stewardship of state forests or for the protection of Highlands, Pinelands, and other heavily forested ecosystems. They need to designate areas for old growth, scenic vistas, roadless areas, historic preservation, and rare species that will not be compromised by commercial logging. Site-based commercial logging plans are running the show!
- The DEP and NJ Audubon misleadingly characterize the age & health of forests. Many canopy trees may be 80-100 years, but at Sparta Mountain and Weldon Brook many of the clear-cut trees were 120-165 years old, still healthy and fast-growing. The soils are thin and rocky, so the trees do not grow as quickly and their ages were underestimated. Logging reduced the age distribution!