Monday, March 28, 2016

Two Sides of the Sparta Mountain Forest Proposal

Ryker Lake,one of several bodies of water on the Sparta WMA | Photo by Wilma Frey

Sparta Mountain was preserved as part of the continuous forest of the Highlands that protects the drinking supply for half of New Jersey’s residents. But a proposed logging project may threaten that with increased silt and run-off that will affect trout streams and also that very high water quality water supply.

The NJDEP Division of Fish and Wildlife partnered with the NJ Audubon Society to revise the existing Forest Stewardship Plan (FSP) for the 3,461-acre Sparta Mountain Wildlife Management Area in Sussex County.

NJDEP states its primary goal of the plan is to "maintain ecosystem health, diversity, and integrity by creating a greater balance among the stages of forest succession throughout the property, minimizing further distribution of invasive exotic species, and enhancing biological diversity through responsible silviculture and mimicking natural 'gap disturbances'."

But some people view this "management" as just creating a different habitat more suitable for hunting. Groups such as the NJ Sierra Club say this proposal not only threatens the environment, but it will also interfere with public access, recreation, and hiking.

What NJDEP calls the "Sparta Mountain WMA Forest Stewardship Plan," environmental groups call "logging" and "clear-cutting" and a plan to "turn the Mountain into a field for bird habitat and deer over-population."

You only have until March 31st to let your feelings about this proposal be known, and can post those comments online for the NJDEP at

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