Site Administrator
Sep 17, 2002

My daughter brother and I went to the Old Half Way (Hidden Lakes) area this morning and did a little walking. In the area between the two lakes we came upon an area of woods that has semi recently been logged quite extensively. It extends almost up to the western most lake. Here is a photo of the area.


Here is where I took a GPS reading even though the area extended quite a bit around there.




ALLRIGHT! :D Looks like the loggers did a good clean job of weeding out the forest. Notice that the needles on the pine trees only grow very close to the top. This indicates that the trees were crowded too close to one another and the lower parts couldn't get much light. The loggers may have pruned dead branches the grew, or rather hung rotting, on the lower parts of the trees. Again, they did a nice clean job.

I wonder where this is in relation to the area I visited a few weeks ago, along the railroad tracks, starting from where the tracks cross Savoy Road to the Claymine Sand Company. I'd pull up the topo map from this site, but I have been unable to open it, even after I reinstalled by compressed files enabler from Windows ME. Maybe I'll look up Hidden Lakes or Woodmansie on a regular electronic map.

People may have to start cutting oaks for firewood to keep warm in the winter as they did in the mid 70's as a result of the Peanut President's energy policy, etc., if W doesn't prevail over the Disney Ecologists who want to stop domestic oil drilling. :roll:


Don't worry, just beyond that are many forests. This is just a break. The stand probably just needed a good haircut. After all, pines need light to grow. We didn't see what the forest looked like before. Maybe it was overgrown with hardwoods, intruding and snuffing out the pines of the Pine Barrens.

Just hope it wasn't within 100 feet of a historical marker. :wink:


Staff member
Oct 25, 2002
Pines; Bamber area
Here is what some of our friendly farmers are doing:

Posted on Sun, Mar. 16, 2003

Pinelands farmers scramble to survive
The value of their cranberry crops has plunged. Some of their alternative plans are worrying environmentalists.
By Kaitlin Gurney
Inquirer Staff Writer

CHATSWORTH - It has been four long harvests since the ruby-red currency of the Pinelands, the cranberry, was nearly drained dry of its value.

Since the mid-1990s, prices for the crop have plunged by two-thirds, forcing farmers who have raised the fruit for generations to turn to sometimes desperate alternatives.

Some have taken odd jobs. Others, to the horror of environmentalists, are exploring potentially destructive ways to make money off sensitive properties.

The Lee and Haines families, two of the most prominent growers, are clear-cutting forests they have owned for more than 100 years, the first large-scale forestry projects the area has seen since the state passed the Pinelands Protection Act in 1979.

And there are whispers of covert sand-mining, a lucrative but environmentally damaging practice outlawed by Pinelands regulations. Neighbors say a Chatsworth farmer is digging bogs as camouflage for sand- and gravel-mining.

Farmers who love their land are defensive in the face of environmentalists' claims that they are wreaking havoc on the uniquely acidic pine barrens ecosystem. The strict laws governing land use and the area's sandy soil leave growers few choices outside of berries.

If the Pinelands are to be maintained, the state - or preservation groups - need to buy the land, farmers say.

"If this beautiful area is going to be protected and preserved, it is going to have to be purchased," said cranberry baron J. Garfield DeMarco, who in November struck a deal to sell 9,400 acres to the New Jersey Conservation Foundation. "When the Pinelands codes were promulgated, the state tried a balancing act, to allow enough uses of the land that it couldn't be accused of confiscating it. But those uses are no longer viable.

"When people try to maximize the value of their holdings, they do end up hurting the environment."

After cranberry prices hit $60 a barrel in the mid-1990s, overproduction brought prices down to $10 a barrel in 1999. Prices have recovered to a little more than $20 a barrel, but growers such as Bill Cutts, who says he's "just barely treading water," say the longterm outlook is sour.

"Cranberry growers are doing what they have to do to get by in lean times," said Cutts, who harvests 120 acres of cranberries a year. "Some have jobs off the farm, and others look to other assets or crops."

Like trees.

The market for pitch pine, the dominant tree in the Pinelands, has also changed. Long thought to be worthless on the wood market, pitch pine is now processed and used for paper products ranging from peel-off stamps to hospital gowns, said Emile DeVito of the New Jersey Conservation Foundation.

But cranberry grower Abbott Lee says he did not make money from the 550 acres of trees he cleared off his family's 1,800-acre farm and replanted with a faster-growing, stronger type of pitch pine. Instead, he said, the forestry project is an investment for his children's children, who can benefit when the trees he plants are ready to harvest in 40 years. The changes in the cranberry market have given him time to tend to his untapped resource, Lee said.

Nearby grower Bill Haines Jr., a Burlington County freeholder, has applied to the Pinelands Commission for permission to clear-cut more than 1,500 acres of cedar and pitch pine. The application from Lee, who farms with his brother Stephen, a Pinelands commissioner, was approved in 2001. The forestry requests are among the two largest the Pinelands Commission ever received, according to acting assistant director Chuck Horner.

The Pinelands have been harvested for timber for more than 300 years, said forester Robert Williams, who prepared both the Lees' and Haines' applications for the Pinelands Commission. Managing the forests helps prevent fires and improve the overgrown, choked-out appearance many timber stands have acquired, he said.

"The Pinelands were created by a repeated cutting of all the forests," Williams said. "If you do something people haven't seen for a while, they get concerned."

But Carleton Montgomery, executive director of the Pinelands Preservation Alliance, said he feared the applications from two such influential growers might spark a trend among absentee landlords who might care less for their land. He also said he was not sure replanting with a hybrid met the Pinelands' requirement that landowners replant with native species.

"The cumulative effect could be catastrophic for the ecosystem," Montgomery said. "I don't think we've had much experience with this in the modern era, when we've worried about endangered species."

Depressed cranberry prices also mean the sand that growers remove from the ground to create the bogs is more valuable than the fruit itself.

A truckload of white sand is worth about $350, vendors say.

The Pinelands Commission first encountered cranberry growers using more land for mining than farming in the late 1980s and again in the late '90s, Horner said. A task force in December 2001 placed strict limits on the amount of soil growers could remove off-site - no more than 2,000 cubic yards a year without a Pinelands permit, or 20,000 cubic yards with one.

Most growers, such as Joe Darlington of the firm J.J. White Inc., say they need all the sand they dig to cover bogs in the off-season.

But Kris Kahoun, who is switching from blueberries to cranberries, has a variance request before the Woodland Township Planning Board to remove 75,000 cubic yards of sand from his property, 15,000 of it for agricultural uses and the rest to be sold off-site. His planning board hearing is scheduled for Tuesday night.

His neighbor, blueberry farmer Steve Sisk, contends Kahoun is masking a sand-mining operation as cranberry farming. He said another neighbor tried the same thing eight years ago.

"There's a loophole in the laws, and these 'farmers' have found them," said Sisk. "He's got a hole in the ground the size of a Wal-Mart back there. If they let him get away with this, there will be holes like this all over the Pinelands."

Rich Bizub of the Pinelands Preservation Alliance said a farmer going into the cranberry industry now "raises red flags."

Kahoun denies any interest in sand-mining, apart from selling some gravel to offset the more than $20,000 he has sunk into planning his bogs.

"All I'm trying to do is farm," he said.

DeMarco, who had a contentious relationship with his fellow growers even before selling his property last year, criticized them for their willingness to exploit the land.

"I think a lot of this was inevitable with the decline of the cranberry industry . . . but I didn't want to continue if I would have had to do these horrible things to my land," said DeMarco, who was fined in 2001 by the state Department of Environmental Protection for disrupting wetlands. "Others see their land as a possession, and think nothing of turning it into a desert or a development."

But Abbott Lee said that Pinelands growers were determined to wait out the bad times in the cranberry industry and experiment with new products like white cranberry juice.

"In my conscience, I know I'm doing the right thing for the land . . . and I know that other families have the same love for the land that our family does."