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Posts Tagged ‘Pinelands’

Water and Gas Don’t Mix in the Pinelands

Tuesday, November 7th, 2017

The New Jersey Pinelands Commission approved two natural gas pipelines by a slim majority this year. They originally denied the first of these to come before the Commission, the South Jersey Gas pipeline, in 2014, but the governor and his allies replaced two key commissioners and the Commission reversed itself in 2017.  According to former New Jersey Governor, Christine Todd Whitman, the pipeline approvals “undermine” the Pinelands Plan, and “is contrary to what is in the charter for the Pinelands Commission and the protection for the Pine Barrens themselves.” Former Governor Whitman was interviewed by Pinelands Preservation Alliance about the potential pipeline impacts to the Pinelands in a Save the Source video, “Water and Gas Don’t Mix in the Pinelands,” released in October 2017.

Pipelines Threaten Drinking Water

See the video.

Not only does the pipeline approval run contrary to the Pinelands Comprehensive Management Plan, but it also threatens the integrity of the Kirkwood Cohansey Aquifer – a 17 trillion gallon aquifer that serves residents of South Jersey and feeds fresh water into the Delaware River.  A few miles of these pipelines are going to be under streams, rivers, and wetlands, and virtually their entire length will be sunk into the shallow aquifer.  The horizontal drilling process can easily cause materials and chemicals to contaminate the water or change the flow of water in ways that drain or damage surface water bodies.   There was a huge neurontin spill in Ohio a couple of months ago that caused two million gallons of drilling mud into a wetland, and the Ohio office for the Environmental Protection Agency estimates that it will take decades for the wetland to recover from this damage.

Not Jobs versus the Environment

Governor Whitman further adds, this issue is “not jobs or protecting the Pine Barrens. We can still have jobs. We can still have energy.  There are different ways of doing it, but we really ought to be very careful about endangering in any way such an important area. It’s also very much about protecting the water supply for literally hundreds of thousands of people which will become far more expensive if you have to put in any kind of plant or any kind of man made system to purify that water and recharge that water from the aquifer.”

Time and again residents and leaders of our state implore our elected officials to do what is right for the Pinelands, right for our water supply, and right by our laws by denying unnecessary energy infrastructure that threatens our natural resources especially our most precious resource – water.  Water and gas don’t mix in the Pinelands or anywhere in New Jersey.  The next governor and administration hopefully will hear the voices, understand the impacts, and follow the letter of the law in deciding on these matters.

To view Save the Source videos, visit

Groundhog Day at the Pinelands Commission

Friday, December 9th, 2016


Today is the 1st monthly meeting of the Pinelands Commission since the Nov. 7th Court decision that sent the SJ Gas Pipeline project back to them – stating that the Commission staff and the Board of Public Utilities had improperly approved the project without taking a full vote of the Commission.

Crowd at the Pinelands Commission in December 2013

IRONICALLY – 3 yrs ago today the Pinelands Commission held a public hearing on the SJ Gas Pipeline project when it came around the first time. Hundreds of people showed up to speak out against the project. The room was too small and many people were stuck in the lobby unable to get in the room.

During 2013-2014 over 20,000 people testified, wrote letters, made public comment and signed petitions opposing this project. Because we all believe in equal and fair enforcement of the rules that protect our land and water and air.

Then in January 2014 the Commission voted on the project and deadlocked 7 to 7 (1 Commissioner had to recuse himself, but that is another story). The South Jersey Gas Pipeline project failed. The Commissioners and the Commission staff clearly stated in many documents that IT VIOLATED THE RULES THAT PROTECT THE PINELANDS.

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So why are we still here?

SJ Gas keeps trying to find a way around Pinelands rules that have existed since 1981. Rules that clearly state infrastructure projects like this are not permitted in the forest area unless “intended to primarily serve the needs of the Pinelands” N.J.A.C. 7:50-5.23. These rules exist in part to prevent the Pinelands from becoming a super highway for gas pipelines and other infrastructure trying to get the coast or to another location. The Pinelands is a fragile, rare ecosystem to be valued and enjoyed – not a transit area.

In 2015 South Jersey Gas resubmitted the same application with “new” information showing that now it “meets the needs of the Pinelands”. This is the same project – we will not be fooled and we won’t be worn down by all the years of work that this project has already consumed.

Today so many people showed up at the Pinelands Commission’s regular monthly meeting that there was no room to park.  Pro-pipeline advocates valtrex packed the room. Pipeline opponents were crowded into the lobby.

How could the Commission not be aware that people would show up?

Why would they not have planned ahead?  It is like Groundhog Day – just like Dec. 9, 2013.

Today the Commission moved into closed session before public comment – and according to the executive director of the Association of New Jersey Environmental Commissions, everyone who was in the meeting room was asked to leave and more than 100 people were told they can go home and be called if they want to come back.

No matter what the Commission MUST vote on the project, there MUST be a public hearing and they MUST vote to deny the project. It isn’t the job of the Commission to determine energy policy or to support the re-powering of a power plant (that could be underwater in the next 50 years due to sea level rise anyway).

It is very simple. The project violates the rules and must be denied.  Learn more here. Sign up on our email list so we can keep you informed.

UPDATED 12.9.16 at 7pm:

January 24, 2017 at 9:30 am

The Pinelands Commission will hold a public hearing on January 24, 2017 at 9:30 am at the Ocean Acres Community Center located at 489 Nautilus Drive, Manahawkin, New Jersey 08050.  Learn more on their webpage.

We are very disappointed that they are not holding the meeting in the evening.  It is completely unfair to people who work during the day or would need to find child care.  They know how many people are opposed to this project.

For people who can’t attend the public hearing you will be able to submit comments by mail or email.

Comments may be sent via the following:

Mail:   New Jersey Pinelands Commission
P.O. Box 359
New Lisbon, New Jersey 08064


You can also attend the next regular Pinelands Commission meeting on January 13, 2017 at 9:30 a.m.  The Pinelands Commission Offices are located at 15 Springfield Road in Pemberton Township NJ.

Make sure you are on our email list so we can keep you informed in a timely fashion.

You can find information on the Pinelands Commission website about monthly meetings (including agendas) and public hearings. You can also sign up on their email list so you are notified of upcoming events. Here is their website.

Managing Our State Forests

Wednesday, May 25th, 2016
Cedar Swamp at Goshen Pond in Wharton State Forest

Cedar Swamp at Goshen Pond in Wharton State Forest

In our last blog post, we covered the ecological role of fire in the Pinelands and the use of prescribed burns as a management technique.  We know that prescribed burns are not the only management technique used in our forest, so how do we try to replicate natural disturbance events to promote overall ecological integrity and what should we prioritize in developing stewardship plans for managing our state forests? (more…)

March 14th Rally for the Pines

Thursday, March 3rd, 2016



The proponents of land preservation have never given up easily. We need to fight for each victory and each parcel of preserved land and open space. That is why it is so important to take our message to the centers of legislative power and let our legislators know that they need to stand with us. The victories that we have helped achieve in the Pines took tremendous effort and it is important we don’t let any of them go without a fight.

It’s been a tough year for the Pines and we need to show that disregard for the rules and for the environment will not be tolerategeoffd. We need to invigorate and motivate our allies within the political structure and give them the courage to keep fighting in defense of the Pinelands. We will gather with over a hundred activists, organizers, impacted residents, and other concerned citizens to demand a moratorium against any new pipelines  in the Pinelands and for an implementation of a travel management plan to protect sensitive habitats from destructive off-road vehicles. This is one of  the last great refuges of wilderness on the east coast and its time to let Trenton know that we will never give up protecting it.

It is time to take to the streets and tell our legislators and state agencies to stop destroying the Pinelands for private profit.   The Pinelands are for the people – not pipelines!

Rally for the Pinelands

Time: 8:30 am to 11:30 am
Location: State Capital, Trenton NJ

A coalition of environmental organizations, residents impacted by natural gas pipeline projects, activists, and concerned citizens are organizing a march and rally in Trenton to demand that our state legislators and state agencies ENFORCE and STRENGTHEN Pinelands regulations.

Join us on March 14th in Trenton NJ. We will march from the NJ Department of Environmental Protection down State Street in the morning and then rally at the Statehouse. Following the rally participants will be able to find their representative and deliver a personal message. Carpooling will be coordinated.

We have 100 people so far and we need more!  Join the green wave of support for the Pinelands!

Sponsored by the Pinelands Preservation Alliance, New Jersey Chapter of the Sierra Club, Food & Water Watch NJ, the Association of New Jersey Environmental Commissions (ANJEC), the New Jersey Conservation Foundation, the New Jersey League of Conservation VotersClean Water Action and South Jersey Land & Water Trust.

RSVP today!  We will send you parking information, event schedule and carpool information.

Help get the word out!  Share this blog post with your network.  Share the Facebook Event with your friends and family.  The more the merrier!

Bus Seats and Carpooling Information

Time: 7:30 am
Location: PPA Headquarters, 17 Pemberton Rd (CR 616), Southampton Township, NJ 08088

You must RSVP for a bus seat by e-mailing – space is limited.  If you are willing to drive your own car (from PPA or from another location) let us know as soon as possible.

For more information call Becky at 609-859-8860 ext 21.

Get Personal with Double Trouble State Park

Wednesday, January 20th, 2016
© 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 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.


  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
  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

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