Thursday, October 25, 2012

NJ Pinelands Alliance sees enviro-protections weakening


An environmental watchdog sees environmental protections weakening overall in New Jersey but gives good grades to some initiatives in the state's Pinelands region.

In it annual State of the Pines Report, the Pinelands Preservation Alliance (PPA) sees "growing public concern that, while much of the Pinelands’ forests, streams and wetlands are surviving the pressures of sprawl, government agencies are not doing enough to save the Pine Barrens over the long term.." 

The report focuses on the state of Pinelands preservation and on how specific actions of government agencies have either helped or harmed the Pinelands during the past twelve months. It rates the actions of government agencies that include the Governor, the Pinelands Commission, New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), New Jersey State Legislature, local government, and other governmental agencies. 

"Since the fate of the Pinelands rests primarily with decisions by government, the public needs a way to hold these agencies accountable for their performance through an annual report. PPA believes there is real cause for concern in the actions of government agencies responsible for safeguarding the Pinelands," the PPA says.

The group's executive director, Carleton Montgomery asserted: 
The Pinelands Commission has lost its leadership position in recent years, instead succumbing to political pressures that confine its efforts to case-by-case waivers for developments that violate the Pinelands Comprehensive Management Plan. The Commission now has the perfect opportunity through its fourth Plan Review to reassert its role as guardian of the Pinelands by adopting reforms that experience shows are needed to protect Pinelands resources.”

The report was not entirely negative. It found that...
Despite challenging economic times, Governor Christie kept funding for the Pinelands Commission relatively stable for the coming fiscal year. The annual Pinelands Short Course sponsored by the Commission and Burlington County College continues to grow in popularity. Since its inception the Short Course has provided a wonderful opportunity for people to learn more about unique natural, historic, and cultural aspects of the Pine Barrens. 

It also saluted Buena Vista's Township Committee for discontinuing efforts to build a package sewage treatment plant, recognized  steps taken by the Evesham Township to protect the Black Run Preserve through a new Open Space Plan, and gave high marks to GreenFaith, a national interfaith environmental organization based in New Jersey for launching a new program to encourage houses of worship to conserve water at its facilities, to preserve water quality on its grounds, and to encourage its members to conserve water at home.

Read the full PPA report here 

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