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Chapter Executive Committee meeting

Don't Shoot Down the Environment

Date : Thu, 29 May 2008 14:23:21 -0400

For Immediate Release Contacts: Christine Feoranzo, NW Group Chair,
(201) 410-1820 May 29, 2008 Jeff Tittel, Chapter Chair, (609) 558-9100

Don’t Shoot Down the Environment

Today the Sierra Club called for a time out on the Hudson Farm development project in Sussex County until major questions are addressed. “We have serious concerns about the proposal to expand Hudson Farm into a commercial shooting preserve and trap and skeet range, and we want to make sure that the potential for environmental harm has been carefully assessed before this plan moves forward,” said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club.

The proposed development would sit on a parcel of land that includes approximately 400 acres in Andover and 500 acres in Byram Township. The parcel is adjacent to the Forest Lakes community in Byram Township, a designated bird sanctuary that is home to endangered species, including the bald eagle. Because the project does not meet current Master Plan or zoning requirements, modifications to or exemptions from these ordinances would be necessary.

The most serious of the Sierra Club’s concerns is what effect the project would have on water supply. Shot from the commercial shooting preserve could produce up to one ton of lead, arsenic, and antimony debris per year, with at least another ton from the trap and skeet range. With the Forest Lakes Water Company aquifer lying beneath the shooting range and the Byram Township acreage’s location in the Highlands Preservation Area, a region designated by the New Jersey legislature for special water protections because it supplies drinking water to more than half the population of the state, the question of how much of this toxic material will seep into surrounding waterways or run off into them as contaminated storm water is a vital one.

“We don’t know whether the owner has a plan for collecting lead shot and preventing toxic materials from getting into the water supply or adversely affecting wildlife,” noted Christine Feoranzo, Chair of the New Jersey Sierra Club’s Northwest Group. “If there isn’t, that’s a major problem. If there is, the community needs to see it before we can make an informed decision about whether this range is the best choice for us.”

While lead is a serious toxin itself, the replacements that are used can be even worse. Non-lead shot often contains tungsten, a probable carcinogen, which is more water soluble than lead and, therefore, more likely to seep into the water supply. “We can talk about mitigation and about containing and minimizing these toxins,” said Tittel, “But we should consider the possibility that the best solution may be to not allow the toxins to be put there in the first place. Prevention is a lot easier and less expensive than creating a contaminated site that has to be cleaned up later.”

Environmentalists are also concerned about the potential effects of the range on the neighboring bird sanctuary. Lead and other heavy metals are at least as toxic to birds and other animals as they are to humans, raising the question of what the effects will be on species, particularly endangered species, that may come in contact with or accidentally ingest toxins while on the property.

In addition, the owner of the parcel, Peter Kellogg, has indicated plans to release large numbers of birds, including thousands of non-indigenous pheasant and partridge, on the commercial shooting range. “We simply don’t know what the effects of this introduction or of the noise from the range would be on the ecosystem and the native bird, plant, and other species in the area. This is something that needs to be looked at carefully,” noted Tittel.

Decisionmaking responsibility for this site falls primarily to the municipalities, which will have to allow or disallow the zoning changes needed for the project to go forward. The state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) cannot take preventive action due to a loophole in the law and will only have authority over the site after it becomes contaminated.

The Sierra Club also believes that the project should be required to get a Highlands permit from both the DEP and the New Jersey Highlands Council, due to the site’s location in the Highlands Preservation Area. “Projects that will disturb more than a quarter acre have to have a Highlands permit,” Tittel explained.

“Peter Kellogg has helped preserve a lot of land and protect the environment,” concluded Tittel. “We don’t want to see this project undermine the goals he has worked toward. It’s important that all the environmental consequences are examined before a decision to go forward is made.”

##########

Becca Glenn, Program Assistant New Jersey Sierra Club

145 W. Hanover Street Trenton, NJ 08618

609-656-7612: phone

609-656-7618: fax

Received on 2008-05-29 14:41:47

New Jersey Sierra Club, 145 West Hanover St., Trenton, NJ 08618, USA
tel: 609 656 7612, fax 609 656 7618
or email Nicole Dallara, Outreach Coordinator, at nicole.dallara@sierraclub.org

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