Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Logging Sparta Mountain: It’s not about warblers

April 7, 2017

Logging Sparta Mountain isn’t about the golden warbler, for which there is already habitat nearby. It is part of a cynical effort to promote commercial logging of state forests for an industry/conservation coalition.

The cutting will primarily benefit Division of Fish and Wildlife customers who shoot small, upland species, and timber companies. New Jersey Audubon consults on the projects and develops plans.

In 2009, the division said that it desired logging, “including clear-cuts,” for hunted grouse, woodcock and quail. “Stewardship” for the warbler came later. Further, through logging, the division wants to shift management costs for increasing hunted species from hunters to New Jersey taxpayers.

When it comes to deer, the statewide logging campaign is incoherent: Logging creates more deer. Yet to protect “forest systems” – of which Sparta Mountain is one – New Jersey Audubon lobbies with hunting groups for killing deer via slashed home safety buffers, Sunday hunting, and hunter access to private and public land.

The fact that unpopular clear cutting is being forced, despite strong opposition from environmental organizations who are invariably, says Audubon, “confused” or “misguided,” illustrates the extent to which the industry/New Jersey Audubon/Division of Fish and Wildlife coalition has monopolized the state’s wildlife and land policy.

The Teaming with Wildlife (TWW) national steering committee creates and controls state wildlife and land policy. It is dominated by wildlife-use trade associations and fronts (“nature-related businesses”), including the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the trade association for the firearms industry that opposed gun restrictions in Newtown, Connecticut; the Archery Trade Association, and other equipment manufacturers as well as logging and fur interests, state hunting agencies and cooperating conservation groups allied with industry. (See the Washington Post series on conservation and industry alliances here: The results: Projects that benefit hunted species and loggers are publicly justified as benefiting song birds.

New Jersey Audubon, which promotes hunting and logging, is the state TWW co-director.

The network of ancillary TWW members includes state conservation grant brokers and staffed conservation consultancies and foundations with few if any public members. Before the public is aware of the policy, each trade -selected “stakeholder” is accommodated. Input from the actual public or TWW non-participants is a chimera. “Diversity” is writ by a single hand.

As demonstrated by what is happening at Sparta Mountain, the sole “stakeholder” absent is the public.  Rectifying that deliberate spurn, Senator Raymond Lesniak’s bill, S3044, would prevent the logging. The measure deserves our full support.


Susan Russell
Wildlife Policy Director
Animal Protection League of New Jersey

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