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Logging Bill Conditionally Vetoed, Third Party Certification Removed

Date : Mon, Aug 19, 2013 at 3:41 PM

Certification Removed To:

For Immediate Release

August 19, 2013

Contact: Jeff Tittel, 609-558-9100

Logging Bill Conditionally Vetoed, Third Party Certification Removed

Today the Governor conditionally vetoed (CV) S1085/A2837, a bill allowing for commercial logging on public lands. In the CV the Governor removed requirements for forestry plans developed under the bill to receive third party certification from the outside group the Forest Stewardship Council
(FSC). The FSC guidelines were unenforceable as the bill was written and DEP stated in a June letter to legislators that the agency did not intend to follow the FSC guidelines. The inclusion of the FSC standards had garnered support of the bill by some groups and legislators. With that removed the bill may have a difficult time achieving a concurrence vote, which would put an end to this legislation that would open some of the most environmentally sensitive areas in our state to logging. Sierra Club will continue to oppose the legislation and a concurrence vote.

"This bill creates an open season on our forests and public lands and he should have vetoed it. Instead he conditionally vetoed it, making a terrible bill even worse. The Legislature should not concur but should let it die. It is that bad a bill," said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. "The Governor realized this bill was not going to work so hopefully the conditional veto will stop it from being law."

Sierra Club along with other environmental groups and ecologists have opposed the bill. The bill requires that a "forest stewardship" plan be prepared for each state park. The bill would hurt our open spaces, biodiversity in our forests, public access, and pristine resources people have worked for decades to protect. The bill does not include adequate protections for natural resources and has no enforcement.

Before the Governor's CV the bill tied the "forest stewardship" plans for public lands to the guidance documents of the Forest Stewardship Council
(FSC), which had weak, non-enforceable standards. If the Legislature concurs with the veto, plans would now be developed by the DEP without a clear set of guidances and standards.

Logging operations will close off large portions of our Parks to the public. Hiking trails will be turned into logging roads, staging areas will be clear cut, skidders and other equipment will run through streams and wetlands. All this will lead to more erosion and stormwater runoff impacting pristine streams and reservoirs and aquatic ecosystems. Opening up the canopy will lead to a loss of biodiversity in our forests as more deer and invasive species take over. Invasive species infestations would require herbicide use which could impact sensitive streams and areas above reservoirs and water supply intakes.

"Not only will this law destroy forests but we will end up spraying pesticides above some of our most critical water supplies. It does not include adequate protections for natural resources and has a plan without any rules or enforcement. This bill is all about the privatization of our public lands for profit at the expense of the environment," said Jeff Tittel,

Logging on public lands could also impact future open space purchases. Public support for open space preservation could wan once people see what is being done on land held in the public trust. When public access is restricted for long periods of time and people see logging rigs pulling out 100 year old oaks from our state parks, will they continue to support future open space referendums?

The Office of Legislative Services has already estimated the program would cost $2.7 million to implement. Loggers would have to take $2.7 million worth of trees out of our forests just to cover those costs and additional revenue would go to the General Fund. It would not be earmarked for restoration or stewardship projects on public lands.

There has been no financial analysis to determine how much logging would be required for New Jersey to cover the cost of the program. In the past, the state has received $75 per tree for oaks that sold on the market for over
$2000. Without a financial analysis this could happen again under this bill. We are giving away our forests for pennies on the dollar.

New Jersey's forests have been recognized nationally and internationally as important, whether it is the Pinelands National Reserve and UN Biosphere Reserve, the Highlands recognized as nationally significant with the federal Highlands Conservation Act or designation of the Delaware River in the Skylands region as Wild and Scenic by the Department of Interior. These forests are not just state but national and international treasures.

"Our forests are so important environmentally and nationally significant that we must scrutinize this program thoroughly and not move forward with something that would negatively impact our forests' health," said Jeff Tittel. "The Governor's conditional veto now affords the Legislature a second opportunity to consider this bill and we hope they will reverse course and stand with our forests instead of commercial interests. By refusing to concur with the Governor's conditional veto the Legislature can still save our public lands."

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Received on 2013-08-19 10:41:00

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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