The Sparta Mountain WMA Forest Stewardship Plan comment period closed March 31, 2016.

You can find links to the plan at http://www.state.nj.us/dep/fgw/spartamt_plan.htm.

The Lake Tamarack Board members would like you to have access to all information received regarding this issue, therefore all correspondence submitted by community members can be found in the comments section below.

We welcome all community members to utilize the comments section below to share any questions, concerns or pertinent information to the Sparta Mountain Logging plan.

14 comments

  1. Below is a letter we received from community member Rusty Brown:

    Dear Lake Tamarack Community,

    Please do not buy into the propaganda that opponents of the Forest Stewardship Plan are spreading. This plan is not about logging, it is about restoring the health of our forests, which they desperately need.

    This Plan will improve the quality of our lake and surrounding forests, not harm them. Healthy forests produce healthy water and this Plan will restore the health of the forests that surround our community. Fisheries biologists with Trout Unlimited support this plan for that very reason.

    Over the past five years six areas have already been logged as part of this project. None of the problems that opponents claim will happen have occurred. I recently took a group of 17 people back to see these cuts for themselves and they were encouraged by the positive impacts that this project is having on the health of our forests. My home is backed up to this property. I work as a wildlife biologist and have a master’s degree in this field. And, I have been using Sparta Mountain as a case study in the ecology classes that I teach. I understand what this Plan will do for our forests and it’ very upsetting to think that there are people trying to stop it.

    One of the false claims that opponents make is that logging will cause erosion, which will impact our lake’s water quality. This is not true. This logging does not cause erosion like construction does. It does not expose bare soil or disrupt the root systems of the trees that hold the soil together. The logged trees don’t die; the stumps and roots are still very much alive and actively growing. Multiple new stems shoot up from the cut stumps and a dense layer of new growth forms. This is called coppicing.

    Not only does coppicing keep root systems healthy and prevent erosion but it also creates a dense layer of new growth down at ground level. This is where many of our disappearing species of wildlife need it. Back when Lake Gerard owned this property it was logged regularly, and as a result species like Ruffed Grouse were abundant. Sadly these forests are no longer logged and have been allowed to grow into a single-aged stand of mature trees with no age diversity. As a result, species that need early successional habitats are disappearing.

    The Forest Stewardship Plan will restore a diversity of forest habitats without causing the problems that opponents claim. But don’t take my word for it, take a hike back there and see for yourself.

    Sincerely,
    Rusty Brown

  2. Another comment was shared with the Board by community member, Tom Morro, Sr.:

    “Having attended the Sparta Township Council Meeting last night (2/9/2016), and having heard the presentations made by representatives of The Sierra Club, The Audubon Society, independent foresters, biologists, environmental experts and ordinary citizens, like myself, it is imperative that the NJDEP extend the comment period on this plan until a public hearing is held in Sussex County so that local stakeholders can listen to DEP experts.

    It also is very apparent to me, an admitted layman, that additional study must occur before this plan is put into effect.

    I have read the plan, and two things are very clear: 1) an overall lack of empirical data to support the plan, and 2) lack of specificity regarding how the plan will be executed and who will pay for the costs of that execution.  Accordingly, my request that the comment period be extended until after an open public hearing occurs in Sussex County is both a simple request and one that would result in the t

  3. The following are concerns expressed by Alana Steib, a respected and former Lake Tamarack Environmental Committee member:

    “Forest Stewardship  Plan”

    Primary Objection

    Their plan states that the “un-named stream entering the west shore of Lake Tamarack” has a 25ʼ set back. (not 40” – which is only for C-1, trout production streams.) A lakeʼs watershed exists from the lake shore to the top of the surrounding ridgeline.  Lake Tamarackʼs water quality is jepordized by any tree removal activities in the woodlands right up to the top of the ridge on the west shore –which we share with Summit Lake, Lake Gerard and Beaver Lake (Stands #27 and  #33). Keeping logging out of our watershed is critical.

    Other Concerns

    Access: Their plan states access to those stands can be gotten via Beaver Lake and Lake Tamarack. Deny them access, and hope they donʼt figure out that we donʼt own the roads here, unlike Beaver Lake!

    Deer:  The planʼs stated goals of “greater balance among the stages of forest succession & establishing up to 10% of property as young forest stands” does not account for the deer population in the area. If there’s a lack of balance in the WMA, itʼs because the emerging seedlings and saplings are eaten faster than the trees can reseed. Removing older trees isn’t a solution.

    Trout and other aquatic life:  LTA funds an annual stocking of trout and the effect of logging activity on trout mortality has be documented by USGS: http://www.wolfenotes.com/2016/02/expanded-logging-on-sparta-mountain-couldcontribute-to-widespread-ecological-harm/  Wolfe picked an extreme example of clear cutting, but it still makes the point that disruptive activity in a watershed is harmful to a lakeʼs water quality, plants, anphibians, and fish.

    Fire & Herbicides: is there ANYBODY not concerned about the prescribed burns and use of herbicides in this plan??

    Re-seeding: The Sparta mayor made a great point: why doesnʼt the DEP re-balance the forest and establish young trees in areas that have already been “cleared” by nature: fix Sparta Glenn and the large areas of blown over trees following Sandy.

    And The Plan Is In Conflict with Existing NJ DEP Efforts

    (During the Sparta Council Meeting there was a lot of talk about the conflicts with  the Highlands Presevation Act, but there are lots of others – all recognizing in importance of maintaining undisturbed forest and vegetation around water bodies.) NJ DEP Water Monitoring and Standards, Ambient Lakes Monitoring Network Documents/protects lake water quality & tests Lake Tamarack every 5 years. Their sampling and our own previous Allied Biological Water Quality Reports show that at some points in the year we are just at the tipping point for excess phosphorus. Disturbing soil releases more.

    NJ DEP Municipal Stormwater Regulation Program

    To reduce harmful inputs to the water body & delay eutrophican.

    NJ DEP Division of Water Quality Bureau of Nonpoint Pollution Control

    Hardyston Twsp has adopted a Stormwater Management Plan with Stormwater Control Ordinaces and is mandated to file an annual report on its activity every year.

    NJ DEP Stormwater.org: http://www.njstormwater.org/bmp_manual2.htm

    NJ Stormwater Best Practices Manual

    Promotes “maintenance of natural vegetation, and reduction of nutrient inputs.”

    “Sediment is one of the most significant pollutants created by development and transferred by its runoff. Sediments consist largely of soil materials eroded from uplands as a result of natural processes and human activities. Adequate sediment and erosion control must be installed and maintained at the site to prevent the delivery of large quantities of sediment into downstream waterways and water bodies.”

    “High concentrations of suspended sediment in streams and lakes cause many adverse consequences including increased turbidity, reduced light penetration, reduced prey capture for sight-feeding predators, clogged fish gills/filters, and reduced angling success. Additional impacts can result after sediment is deposited in slower moving waters. These include the smothering of benthic communities, alterations in the composition of the bottom substrate, and the rapid filling-in of small impoundments that create the need for costly dredging and reductions in the overall aesthetic value of the water resource. [Emphasis is mine.]

    New Jersey Highlands Water Protection and Planning Council Lake Management Plan Guidance

    “Over time, as the lands surrounding a lake evolve from an undisturbed, forested state … there is an associated loss of the natural processes and ecological services once characteristic of the watershed. This change is triggered by the loss of natural ground cover and vegetation, increased compaction of soils …”

    Our surrounding woodlands change over time. Trees die. Forest fires and big storms, American chestnut blight, Dutch elm disease, and Hemlock Wooly Adelgid are all evidence of how natural forces make big impacts. With new threats (Emerald Ash Borer and Beech Bark Disease Blights) our forests are under stress enough without logging. -a.

    ransparency that is necessary whenever the use of an open public resource is altered.”

  4. I find Rusty’s comments most compelling, and they almost sell me on backing the logging plan. BUT, over my 40+ years at Lake Tamarack I have had to have six maple trees on my property cut down. Maples are the predominant tree in the areas surrounding my home. ALL of the cut maple stumps have died and rotted away. There is a soft wood tree, maybe a beech, that I have cut down several times and it always grows back. Based on my sample of Lake Tamarack trees, I would expect most roots would die and rot unless only soft wood trees were harvested. .

  5. I have a good friend who was a forestry major in college. Being outdoors people we talk often about the sad state of New Jersey’s forests. A healthy forest must consist of several stages of growth in order to support a wide range of wildlife. Due to the fact that logging and/or clear-cutting is frowned upon in this state, nearly all of our forests have advanced to the mature stage. Without the under story of new growth many species of wildlife struggle to survive or just disappear.
    I also spend a lot of time in the woods around our lake and have seen the cutting that the power company does as well as the lots that have already been logged. The increase in wildlife is noticeable. As stated by Rusty Brown and witnessed myself in Pennsylvania and New York State, cutting is necessary to maintain healthy forests and pristine watersheds.
    Most logging involves hardwood (deciduous) trees in our area. Most of these leaf bearing trees will bear new sprouts from their root systems. Softwood trees (conifers) are rarely harvested commercially in this area.
    Having read the plan and understanding the future benefits, I am in support of this proposal as long as it is managed properly.

    Respectfully submitted,
    Dave Bresett

  6. The subject is complex –and caring, thoughtful people can have differing opinions of the subject. I strongly oppose the SM WMA plan primarily because logging activities are planned within the watershed of Lake Tamarack (which means from the lake shore up to the top of the ridge-lines surrounding the lake). Like Rusty and Dave I also enjoy walking in the woods. I’ve also attended the 2/9/16 Sparta Council Meeting where a two hour discussion on the plan displayed many layers from both proponents of the plan and people who opposed it. I learned a lot from both. Years ago Bob and I also attended the Hardyston Council Meeting where the last piece behind our west shore was added to the SM WMA to protect it and to create a “green corridor” connecting he Sparta Mountain tract and Hamburg Mountain tract. (This area is Stand # 33 in the logging plan.) This undisturbed, contiguous woodland is rare in a state like NJ and is a precious public resource. While serving for seven years on the Lake Tamarack Environmental Committee we worked with particular focus on maintaining the lake’s water quality. Logging within our watershed would be destructive to the health of the lake. Run-off and erosion would occur without the canopy of living trees and understory vegetation that surrounds us now. I’m sorry, but tree stumps and debris left around after the loggers have left doesn’t do the same job as an intact forest. I’ll ask our Board to post here some of the pictures the Environmental Committee took during a recent heavy rain event of the flooding down the side of the mountain. Pictures speak volumes; besides the photos of the run-off and erosion on Lake Shore Road West, look at the Google Map of an area recently logged at Beaver Lake. They have already seen the effects of logging, which is why they oppose this plan so strongly: https://www.google.com/maps/place/Beaver+Lake,+Hardyston+Township,+NJ+07460/@41.0775737,-74.5590599,18z/data=!3m1!1e3!4m2!3m1!1s0x89c3137c64cbc2d9:0x495223e5ca28d6b8

  7. I too attended the Sparta council meeting and have read the proposal. When one starts fooling around with Mother Nature, you’d better have a very good reason and be ready to accept blame for unintended consequences.. Encouraging habitat for a particular species is tricky, especially in the time of global warming. Gypsy moth caterpillars, ash borers and other insects are already chomping on our trees and hurricanes are blowing them down. I’m as skeptical as Alana that the environment is going to be better off after acres of trees have been cut, or burned, and herbicides spread as the plan dictates. In fact, the only sure winners are the logging companies and the employees promoting and supervising the plan. I’m not even sure the logging is legal. Didn’t we pass 2 bond issues in order to preserve green acres and lands like Sparta Mountain? If nothing else, consider our property values. Does anyone think this will increase them?
    I don’t want to be part of an environmental experiment. The risks outweigh the benefits.
    Sincerely, Lynn Dubnoff

    1. I have been coming to Sussex counties, from Bergen county, to hunt, fish, and hike the forests of Sussex county all my life. I settled here in Lake Tamarack fifteen years ago and wouldn’t want to live anywhere else. This lake has brought me joy about living in such a vast empire of woods, birds, animals and trails. Even when I have friends and family come to visit, they all agree what a beautiful place to live.
      So why all of a sudden has the NJDEP decided to come in and log our forests. I understand the need for cleaning nature, but nature can take care of itself. I attended the meeting at Hardyston and concluded from all those who spoke of this plan that we don’t need it. The orator from NJDEP was like a snake oil salesman trying his best to fool us. I asked him where he lives and told me he’s from Cape May. What? He can come here, cut down the trees, give the logs to the Audubon Society (which I’ll never give another dime too) for profit and go back to Cape May.
      Why hasn’t our elected officials of Sussex county spoken about this plan. Just recently Sen. Steven Oroho talked about New Jersey’s beautiful rural landscape. Does he know what’s going on? Maybe we need them at the next meeting.
      Like a taxpayer, It also makes me a stockholder of this state. I have every right to speak up and we all should. We must speak up to our elected officials and voice our opinions.
      Lets stop this. Leave nature alone.

      Stephen Skorupka

  8. Highlights include a total of $54.9 million distributed to county governments and taxing districts, collected from timber sales on state-owned forests; more than 5,000 acres—-or nearly a million trees—-of forestland replanted; and nearly 50,000 campers hosted at ODF campgrounds.

  9. My concern is for my child and the value of my home.
    I’ve attended the freeholders meeting, the town meeting, heard the pros and cons.
    There is too much at stake for this logging to go on so close to our community.
    After taking everything into consideration, I think the risks outweigh the benefits.
    With herbicides being used, God knows what creeping into our water supply, trucks in and out of our neighborhoods, not a good idea.
    I do not see how this plan would benefit lake tamrack and it’s residents.
    My son is more important than a bird or the age of trees. I Do not want him getting cancer in 10 years due to chemicals in our water supply.

  10. To Kory’s point: this plan does NOT include any re-planting of trees. The plan leaves a few “seed trees” standing, that they say will drop seed and re-poplulate the logged area. I don’t know if they’ve seen the deer damage in our lake or not, but that seems cheerfully optimistic to this gardener.

  11. I think regardless of what the NJDEP and Audubon Society claim their intentions are, the real issue is their admittance to doing no research into the ecology of the surrounding communities, our community. They have done research of this type of plan in similar areas, but not actually in our area, our lake. Opposition to this plan should be based on, if nothing else, the LACK of research and studies done to show how this plan will specifically affect our community, and the lack of remediation funds included in the plan in the event that something does happen.

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