Friday, February 19, 2021

WRNJ Radio Replay -- Julia M. Somers

Are you looking for more information regarding the Roaring Rock Park logging plan?

The following two audio recordings were taken at WRNJ radio station, Hackettstown NJ.  In the recordings Julia M. Somers, Executive Director, New Jersey Highlands Coalition, outlines the impacts of the proposed logging plan for Roaring Rock Park, Washington Township, Warren County NJ. The original airing was Thursday morning February 18 2021.

Recording #1

Recording #2

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Sunday, February 14, 2021

Have you thought about running for public office?

Running for public office political campaign

You see public officials on the news, you follow them on Twitter and YouTube. You see the campaigns videos and yard signs. Did you ever ask yourself, "Why can't I do this?" "What's it about?" and “How does one go about running for public office?”

Here are some pointers:

Get your family and friends to support you

This is probably the most important, especially if you have a significant other, and people who depend on you, in your life. Campaigning is hard. It takes time. It takes money. It takes building a personal network in your community. This takes effort, hard effort, which will eat into your personal life. Make sure those in your life are on board with your decision. You WILL need their buy in, commitment and support as you move forward.

Get involved in your local community

A first step is to get engaged locally to raise your visibility and your personal brand. Political campaigning is networking, marketing and self promotion. Voters and residents need to see you and the value you bring to the table for them to consider voting for you. You will benefit from having those voters view your in a positive light. The old adage “You Never Get a Second Chance to Make a Good First Impression” is key.

If you live in a small rural community (like Washington Borough New Jersey) good moves are:

  1. Joining the local Parent Teacher Association;
  2. Volunteering to be a coach for a kid’s sports team;
  3. Running for the local school district’s Board of Education;
  4. Being appointed to your local government’s committees, e.g. Land Use/Zoning

In all steps, take a positive, constructive approach to the work. Remember, you want people to look at you as someone who is reliable, authentic and cares about the community in which you and they live.

Attend local political party committee meetings

You need to find people who have done this work before, to learn from them how to go about an activity that is new for you. You will need mentors so you know how to make proper decisions. You will also need to understand local and state regulations that govern how candidates are put on ballots, financial reporting and disclosure regulations, and timetables.

Local political party committees (and clubs) have people who know the ins and outs of running for local and state office. They have the skills, talents and practical experience that can be shared. Most, if not all, have web sites and social media pages. For example, search on “Washington Borough NJ Democrats” or “Warren County NJ Democratic Committee” or “New Jersey State Democratic Committee” to find the contacts.

And, importantly, after you make the local political committee connections, you will need to ....

Find a campaign manager and treasurer

Here is where the rubber starts to meet the road, so to speak. Finding a seasoned campaign manager, and treasurer, is key since they will be your go to people for campaign organization, and tracking the funds.

The campaign manager will be your key person to schedule campaign activities, find volunteers and coach you through this process.

The treasurer role is important since campaign finances are regulated by state laws, and can carry penalties if proper reporting and record maintenance are not performed.

And of course your role will be to continue to build those personal relationships with your constituents, tell them about yourself, what you bring to the table and convince them that you are better than the opposition. Remember, do not be afraid or shy to ASK THEM FOR THEIR VOTE.

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Saturday, February 13, 2021

Why the Roaring Rock Park Forest Management Plan Should Not be Implemented

Sara Webb, Ph.D., Forest Ecologist
Professor emeritus of Biology, Drew University

February 21, 2021

The proposed Forest Management Plan for Roaring Rock Park would damage the region’s quality of life, wildlife, and the environment. The plan provides a comprehensive description of the Park’s forests, but it is a logging-focused plan with negative consequences. It proposes to log 260 acres of forest (40% of a square mile), counting both large timber trees and cords of mid-sized firewood. This plan of action carries costs that might well offset any gains from timber sales. It thus should not be implemented.

The plan does not detail what sort of revenue might be possible, and serious questions must be asked about this, particularly because of expenses that the Township will face after logging: to plant trees, control invasive species, restore trails, and the losses of key ecosystems services.

All should recognize, however, that this plan is a simply a logging plan. Thousands of large trees will be lost. The wood will be hauled away, with its lost value as habitat, carbon sequestration, and soil replenishment. The impacts will be enormous.  Damage from logging will be considerable and costly to repair.

Often today such plans are presented as “management” or “stewardship” plans, because as foresters tell me that “logging” sounds so negative. Often these plans assume incorrectly that New Jersey’s forests must be managed to be healthy: to be thinned and cut down for maintenance. We often hear incorrectly that all our trees are the same age, unhealthy, or low in diversity.  These assumptions are true at Roaring Rock Park.  However, all should recognize that tree harvest and log removal is at the heart of this plan. If our goals were biodiversity and forest health, we should instead manage deer and invasive species, not extract living healthy mature trees.


  1. The Plan calls for cutting down large swaths of forest from Roaring Rock Park, clearing 260 acres (40% of a square mile).
  2. The Plan would cut down 3,500-14,800 trees over the next ten years, some 40% of them very large trees with 60% mid-sized firewood trees.
  3. The Plan would convert walking trails through the woods into wide logging roadways for logging equipment, cutting into the forest on either side, exposing soil to erosion, especially where the roads are on steep slopes, and to invasive plants.  Even if restored sufficiently for use as trails, they will pass through a very changed, cleared landscape which will look very different from the perspective of trail users drawn to using the park.
  4. Logging management beyond the roads also would increase soil erosion, increase stormwater runoff and flooding, and decrease groundwater recharge. These problems will be even most severe where logging is planned on Roaring Rock’s steep terrain.
  5. Truck traffic would be heavy on local roads, to transport heavy machinery and logs.
  6. Water quality is at risk in at least one trout stocked C1 creek: Brass Castle Creek. Water quality in other locations could suffer.  Increased runoff would cause more flooding and more seasonal dips in surface and groundwater supplies.
  7. Habitat and wildlife of natural forests would be greatly harmed, except for deer which would increase. Our region has much open land and plenty of young brushy woods, but little intact mature forest as required by many of our birds, from owls to woodpeckers. Wetlands within the Park are critical habitats also at risk from logging activities. Saying that Best Management Practices will be followed is no guarantee of minimizing damage.
  8. Invasive species, as the plan explains, are already established at proposed logging areas. They will take over completely wherever the canopy is opened through logging. Roaring Rock would see increased threats from in tree-strangling invasive vines and other invaders that outcompete native wildflowers and young trees. Controlling invasive species is difficult, labor intensive, and often dependent on pesticides. Prevention is best, by maintaining the intact forest canopy cover.
  9. Logging thus accelerates the steep decline of forest ecosystems by promoting the combination of invasive species and high deer populations.
  10. With abundant deer and invasive plants, it is very difficult to get forest back after logging. Any natural regeneration is heavily browsed. Planting enough new trees is expensive and they too are devoured by deer. New trees need watering to get established, a logistical challenge on the scale of this logging plan. Ultimately, we must recognize that a future forest simply might not take hold.

Another reason to reject this plan is that climate resilience is greatly harmed when the largest marketable trees are lost. The latest science shows our oldest trees and most intact maturing forests both store and take up the greatest amount of carbon from the air.


After logging, there will be major expenses for the Township. We must recognize the limited role of foresters. It is not the role of the Forest Management Plan to take care of or pay for problems that logging will cause; to its credit, this Plan does explain most of the post-logging work that must be done (by others).

It is expensive to replace lost trees and keep the land forested. Even with great effort and investment, it can be impossible to restore forests, because of deer and invasive species. Costs include the purchase and the planting of new trees of sufficient size to survive, the challenge of watering them, and the cost of somehow protecting new trees from deer and invasive plants. Effective deer fencing [10’] and its maintenance as well as herbicides are extremely expensive.

To restore trails from widened logging roadways is also costly and will require extra effort to control invasive plants.

It is also costly and difficult to manage increased storm water runoff, to minimize erosion of bared and disturbed soil, to plan for greater flooding and to grapple with more widely fluctuating water supplies.

The ecologists of the state agree that forest management by logging is not appropriate for northern New Jersey’s natural parks and conservation lands, because of all of these challenges and because intact maturing forests are quite uncommon. Such established forests like those of Roaring Rock provide ecosystem services of many types that should not be squandered lightly. This logging-focused forest management plan is not appropriate. 



This blog post was first published on February 13th, 2021.   It has been revised to better quantify the scale of tree removal. 

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