Sunday, November 12, 2017

Will proposed Pinelands rule increase wildfire threat?

Homes adjacent to a section of the Pancoast Road firebreak, foreground, inside the Four Seasons at Mirage residential community in Barnegat, NJ, on Friday, Nov. 10, 2017.

Jacqueline L. Urgo reports for

The Pinelands Commission is contemplating proposed changes to its “comprehensive management plan” that Bill Brash, president of the New Jersey Fire Safety Council, a Freehold-based nonprofit, feels could pose a fire hazard by making it more difficult to construct and maintain firebreaks wider than six feet.

Proposed amendments to the commission’s Comprehensive Management Plan would add a requirement that construction and maintenance of any firebreak over six feet wide would need a permit before any work commences.

“There are literally thousands of miles of firebreaks in the Pinelands — most of them well over six feet wide — so this proposed amendment would require a permit for nearly all of them,” said Brash, who insists the measure could slow down the firebreak process in red tape.

A spokesman for the DEP, the agency that oversees the Forest Fire Service, said it is reviewing the proposal but currently has no further comment.
The Pinelands Commission, which manages 938,000 acres in the 1.1 million-acre federally protected lands, is reviewing its overall  management plan and will accept written comment from the public on the matter until Nov. 17, said its executive director, Nancy Wittenberg.

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