TRENTON, New Jersey: As part of a project to prevent major wildfires in a federally protected New Jersey forest, up to 2.4 million trees, heralded by some as unique environmental treasures, would be cut down.
According to New Jersey environmental officials, the plan to remove trees in a section of Bass River State Forest, adopted on 14th October by the New Jersey Pinelands Commission and slated to begin in April, aims to better protect against catastrophic wildfires and will only affect small trees, not the towering giants that make the Pinelands National Refuge famous.
However, the plan has split environmentalists, with some saying it is reasonable and necessary, while others say it is a waste of trees.
Pinelands Commissioner Mark Lohbauer also voted against the plan, calling it ill-advised on many levels.
"We are in an era of climate change. It is incumbent on us to do our utmost to preserve these trees that are sequestering carbon," he said.
By using data from the state's application, the Pinelands commissioner calculated that 2.4 million trees would be removed.
According to the state, the affected area has about 2,000 trees per acre, four times the normal density in the Pinelands, and most of the cut trees will be ground into wood chips that will remain on the forest floor, eventually returning to the soil.