NJ - The state of New Jersey destroyed 19 acres of mature oak forest in Glassboro Wildlife Management Area. Reforms needed to better manage our protected public lands | Opinion
DEP’s Bureau of Coastal and Land Use Compliance and Enforcement issued a Notice of Violation to the DEP Division of Fish and Wildlife’s Bureau of Land Management for the destruction of protected wetlands. It’s the same notice that would be given to a private developer who illegally destroyed wetlands or habitat for protected species.
The chunky woodland sandpiper called the American woodcock is a favorite of spring birdwatchers due to the male’s acrobatic courtship display flights. Making a distinctive buzz call and a melodious twittering song, males rise hundreds of feet in the air before taking plunging dives earthward.
Though woodcocks are part of the sandpiper family, they mostly live inland and feed on soil earthworms and arthropods, using their long, sensitive-tipped beaks. They’re considered a species of “least concern,” meaning they’re in little peril of extinction.
So it’s astounding that an agency within the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection — whose mission includes protecting threatened and endangered species — would cook up a project to create new habitat for these game birds by destroying nesting and foraging habitat for two rare bird species.
Glassboro Wildlife Management Area - Forest and Wetland Destruction
The state of New Jersey destroyed 19 acres of mature oak forest in Glassboro Wildlife Management Area.
Acres of N.J. wetlands were illegally cleared during state project, conservation groups allege
N.J. department is fining itself $266K for accidentally clearing protected wetlands
NJ.com / May 18, 2023
That’s exactly what happened in February and March, when the Division of Fish and Wildlife razed 19 acres of exceptional resource value wetlands and adjacent upland forests in the Glassboro Wildlife Management Area in Clayton Borough, Gloucester County.
Before being logged and bulldozed, the land provided habitat for barred owls, a threatened species in New Jersey, and red-shouldered hawks, an endangered species. It also contained mature forests and two rare plants, including a wildflower known as showy meadow-beauty, and vernal pools known to support native woodland frog populations. Also destroyed were archaeological sites where the earliest of New Jersey Indigenous cultures were being researched.
Now the land is a barren wasteland, flattened and with no vegetation remaining. All natural resources — plants, animals, soils and surface geology — were altered, removed or exterminated.
On April 6, the DEP’s Bureau of Coastal and Land Use Compliance and Enforcement issued a Notice of Violation to the DEP Division of Fish and Wildlife’s Bureau of Land Management for the destruction of protected wetlands. It’s the same notice that would be given to a private developer who illegally destroyed wetlands or habitat for protected species.
This week, CLUE set a timeline for Fish and Wildlife to submit a restoration proposal for 2.79 acres of freshwater wetlands and 11.95 acres of freshwater wetland transition area that were destroyed. The restoration proposal must be developed by July 15 and will be subject to a public comment period.
CLUE also assessed $266,000 in administrative penalties against Fish and Wildlife, treating itself the same way that any outside party would be treated.