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Archive for January, 2016

Protecting Our Last Wild Places

Wednesday, January 27th, 2016
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forbiddenpondwide

Forbidden Pond – Wharton State Forest © Jason Howell

Thousands of acres of precious Pine Barrens habitat has been lost in recent years–taken from us not by suburban sprawl, not by commercial development, but by unmanaged and reckless off-road vehicle (ORV) drivers.  The Pinelands Preservation Alliance and our partners have been working to identify and document each area of wetland, upland, and riparian habitat that has been removed from its function in the ecosystem by ORV activity.  In the Pine Barrens alone, we are at 147 sites and counting. The ORV drivers perpetrating this activity have come to the forest, not for its splendor, not its diversity, not its serenity and quiet.  They come to it for a place to challenge oil, gasoline, and steel against the fibers of nature. Unfortunately, without intervention, nature rarely wins. That’s why it is up to us to put a stop to this wanton destruction.

forbiddenpond-emile

NJCF Ecologist Emile Devito surveying Forbidden Pond in Wharton State Forest © Jason Howell

Since the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) withdrawal of the motorized access plan for Wharton State Forest, off-roaders have returned to previously protected wetlands to see what their vehicles are capable of.  Undeterred, we have documented hours of video footage of this activity and we are filing dozens of violation reports, but enforcement can only be employed after the crime has been committed and the damage wrought.

The time it takes for a convoy of motor vehicles to turn a vibrant wetland into a lifeless mud pit is less time than it takes most people to mow their lawns.  Although some in the off-road community have attempted to reach out to their peers to stop the destruction, our evidence shows that self-policing is not a realistic solution.  We need strong, effective, and science-based management that keeps off-road vehicles out of the most sensitive areas of the forest. Anything less will simply allow the destruction to continue at the expense of every other user of the forest for generations to come.

Take Action Today – learn more.

Management, combined with aggressive enforcement, is the only real way to prevent the infinite beauty of the Pines from being lost forever.  Education and ethics cannot be forced and we cannot wait for an epiphany of moral compassion from the individuals who are laying waste to precious habitat.  Laissez-faire management by the DEP has already had ruinous implications for the land they are charged with protecting.

In Camden County, Forbidden Pond was purchased by the DEP in 1996.  According to local amateur botanists, it once contained the rare little floating heart (Nymphoides cordata), but today it is has become a partial-wasteland from ORV abuse.  After years of neglect, this pond was finally protected by the Wharton State Forest Motorized Access Plan, only to be stripped of its protections months later as DEP officials backed down to appease vehicle advocates.  Today, we are left with the consequences as vehicles have continued to drive in circles in this pond.  However, our resolve is strong to protect the wild places we have left and to allow degraded land a chance to recover. It is our duty as concerned environmental citizens to speak up and act out on this issue.

“In the final analysis, it is the citizens who will decide the ultimate fate of the Pine Barrens. It is our responsibility to pass this wilderness heritage on, in its natural state, to our heirs.” – Howard Boyd, A Field Guide to the Pine Barrens of New Jersey


Here is what you can do to help:

  1. Pinelands Commission Meeting – January 29th at 9:30 am: The Policy and Implementation Committee of the Pinelands Commission will be discussing the DEP’s motorized access plan for Wharton State Forest at this meeting.  You can see the agenda on their website. The public will have an opportunity to speak.  Directions to the Pinelands Commission are available on their website.  They are located at 15 Springfield Road in Pemberton NJ.
  2. Tell the DEP Commissioner to Protect Wharton State Forest: Use this link to send an email to DEP Commissioner, Bob Martin today.

 

Get Personal with Double Trouble State Park

Wednesday, January 20th, 2016
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© Kathleen LaPergola

© Kathleen LaPergola, Double Trouble State Park

The Pinelands Preservation Alliance needs your help to protect the natural heritage of our state.  We are looking for people who are interested in taking part in projects that further the goals of conservation. Volunteerism is a critical component to the preservation of our public lands, and we need you to continue building on the success of the past.  A group of committed individuals, grounded by science and the philosophy of conservation, have more power to effect change than any other factor and we are calling on you to join in.

We are helping the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) gather volunteers for a volunteer day to complete forest stewardship activities in Double Trouble State Park.  These are the first activities of the recently-approved Double Trouble State Park Natural Resource Stewardship Plan.


The volunteer day is scheduled to take place at 9 a.m. on February 6th.  Double Trouble is located in Lacey Township, Ocean County just off exit 77 of the Garden State Parkway.  We need your help!


Located in the Cedar Creek watershed, Double Trouble is a popular paddling destination and is home to an important historic village.  Cedar Creek is a major contributor to Barnegat Bay and a very enjoyable paddle through its cedar and maple swamps. I have personally enjoyed Cedar Creek in late August, watching Common Nighthawks (Chordeiles minor) fly in graceful loops over the water in search of insects and have enjoyed canoeing gently over a beaver’s damn after observing it quietly swim into its fortressed lodge.  A 35-acre area of upland forest was severely affected by a wildfire in 1994 so state foresters planted pine and oak species to quickly establish forest cover. That area has now grown in densely and the state Division of Parks and Forestry is requesting help from citizens to thin the new growth.  This project will improve the stand’s resiliency and resistance to disease and insect outbreaks.

Here is a bit about the history about the area.

The name Double Trouble gives immediate rise to an inquisitive mind.  Upon hearing it, I recall The Witches Spell from Shakespeare’s Macbeth, “Double, double toil and trouble; Fire burn and cauldron bubble.  Cool it with a baboon’s blood, then the charm is firm and good.”  I like to think that this poem would have been in the minds of those who worked the furnace and forge of nearby Dover, located just upstream, as they processed the bog ore. Henry Charlton Beck proposed a possible explanation for the name in his folkloric book Forgotten Towns of Southern New Jersey (1936). Beck recounts the story of J. Reed Tillman, the cranberry bog superintendent at that time, who claimed that the name came from a local preacher who took to fixing the earthen dam that provided water power to the sawmill in use at the time. Beck explains,

“It seems there was once a profusion of muskrats at the end of the lake cipro where, today, the cedar water piles over with such a rush that a foam of white suds tops the surface beyond the sluiceway. The old preacher and those who lived there with him had to repair the dam many times because the wild creatures ate away at the barrier. On several occasions, this man, whose name Tilton has forgotten, called out, “Here’s Trouble!” When the dam was gnawed through twice in one week, the cry became, “Here’s double trouble!” And here is Double Trouble to this day—though all that was nearly a hundred years ago.”

Earlier than this account, The Sun Newspaper of New York published an article on June 2, 1918 quoting Edward Crabbe, part owner of the Double Trouble Company:

“How did Double Trouble receive its name?” repeated Mr. Crabbe. “Good Luck, further down from Double Trouble, was the birthplace of the Universalist Church in America. In 1770, the clergyman who established the Universalist Church built a dam at this point and the beavers and muskrats, according to the story, broke through the dam and when the men came up to inspect it and saw the havoc wrought he remarked, “More trouble, double trouble”.  The name stuck.  If you will look at the topographic maps of New Jersey, you will see Double Trouble indicated. I have looked back over records in Perth Amboy and I find Double Trouble mentioned in deeds as far back as 1790.”

Cranberry operations were started at Double Trouble in the 1860s by the Burke Family who used the wetland areas left open from the logging of the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Formed by Edward Crabbe in 1909, after the purchase of lands from the Burke Family in 1903, The Double Trouble Company eventually grew to be one of the largest cranberry operations in the state. Many of the company’s original structures are still preserved in the historic village, including a rare cranberry packing house and a saw-mill. (Smestad-Nunn)

Double Trouble State Park is now 8,000 acres and protects important historical and natural resources.  Your efforts aid in restoring this forest’s ecological function and help build a larger community of committed individuals with a conservation ethic. If you wish to attend, please RSVP to me at Jason@pinelandsalliance.org and I will provide you with directions and further details.

To learn more about visiting Double Trouble State Park please visit the state’s webpage here.  Guided tours of the historic village and exhibits are available.  Check with the state park for more information.

Citations:

  1. Beck, H. (1961). Double Trouble and Dover. In Forgotten towns of southern New Jersey (pp. 265-268). New Brunswick, New Jersey: Rutgers University Press.
  1. Good News From Double Trouble. (1918, June 2). The Sun. Section 7, Page 8. Retrieved January 17th From The Library of Congress, Chronicling America online http://1.usa.gov/1PhDtex
  1. Smestad-Nunn, J. (2015, June 19). From Cedar Mill to Cranberry Bog at Double Trouble Village. The Jackson Times. Retrieved January 17th, 2016, from http://micromediapubs.com/from-cedar-mill-to-cranberry-bog-at-double-trouble-village/

Balancing Use and Protection of Public Lands

Wednesday, January 13th, 2016
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Tuckahoe Lake at Tuckahoe Wildlife Management Area

Tuckahoe Lake at Tuckahoe Wildlife Management Area. © Michael Hogan

The Pinelands Preservation Alliance supports and promotes the use of our state forests, parks, and fish and wildlife lands if done so in a responsible manner.  We also advocate for the preservation of lands specifically for wildlife and untouched by human disturbance.  Maintaining a balance between the two is always difficult, and we don’t claim to have all the answers.  What we hope to do is have an honest and open dialogue among public agencies, private entities and individuals so that we can reach a common ground.

This blog is our way of having this dialogue on a weekly basis.  We will share stories of problems, highlight successes, promote opportunities and ask that those who follow this blog do the same.  The end of 2015 highlighted the need for a continued dialogue about the balance between preservation and recreation.  The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) plays a major role in this effort and has taken action to reduce the impact of off-road recreation in some wildlife management areas. (more…)

 

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