Protecting Communities from Wildfire

Teegate

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Sep 17, 2002
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Bob,

I am glad I used the word "probably" in the first paragraph. I was wondering if I was the oldest. You are so right with every picture tells a story.

German,


I can remember sometime in the 70's when the pineland protection was first started, someone put up a gigantic sign on the Marlton circle saying "You are now entering the pinelands". I am assuming it was their protest of not being able to do something with their property in town because of the act. Apparently the sign was a waste of time because building has not abated at all. The town even has a website bragging about the development it has attracted. One line reads:

"with the intent of maximizing the commercial tax ratables in the Township"

And this:

The Commission provides informational packets and provides assistance to retain and cultivate new businesses in the Township. The Commission, on behalf of the business community's feedback, has made recommendations to the Township Council and Planning Board concerning allocation of additional land for commercial uses, increasing the permissible height of commercial buildings, and the relaxation of certain advertising restrictions on business signs.


http://www.medacnj.com/aboutus.asp


Guy
 

German

Scout
Dec 31, 1969
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The township committee members in my town make no secret of the fact that they want to attract as much business into town as possible. It is that never ending ratables chase. Some people I know blame it on all the outsiders who have moved in and are ofter running local governments. But I have heard the same attitude from natives. In either case, they never learn from other towns that ratables are a short lived gain. Look at towns like Brick or Toms River. With all that developement, I hear no one singing the praises of their low taxes. And with all that traffic and congestion, I would sooner drive through the parts of the West Bank where all the fun is happening than those towns. Don't they ever consider quality of life in addition to new tax ratables?
 

Teegate

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German,

Well said. I have been through Toms River years ago and it was a mess.

Guy
 

JeffD

Explorer
Dec 31, 1969
180
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All of us who have posted agree that overdevelopment stinks! You make a good point, German, that the best way to keep developers from overdeveloping an area and keeping open space, easing traffic congestion, etc, is to have a community aquire an area and designate it for a use that would preclude development. This is one reason state parks were formed.

I really amazes me that communities are not following the advice of our forefathers. During the early years of Philadelphia, the city rulers had a formula. I think it was to set aside 2 acres for each acre developed. And this was in a city! What happened?!

As you pointed out, German, you can't leave land up for grabs and expect the developers not to go for and get it. My point to encourage lumber companies, Bob, is to bring in an industry that doesn't litter the landscape with steel and concrete. Land has to earn a living, so to speak, just as we do. Of course some of us can live on the bread and air sandwitches Gene London's boss feeds him. (I guess that ages me). Why is it, Bob, that when someone wants to encourage responsible industry such as logging or cranberry farming, you jump to the conclusion that he wants to give the industry carte blanc? I've encountered this many times. That is the idea that if you don't agree with certain environmentalists view on a subject, then you are anti-environment.

Anyway, the Pine Barrens management plan is such that loggers are required to harvest trees responsibly. They don't have carte blanc. They can't just go out and cut and run as they did during the 19th century. Responsible forest management has resulted in marketable harvests in our national forests while benefitting the forest. As I already said, there has been a net gain of forest in our national forests since wise forest management has been implimented.

The key to keeping lumbering and other such uses responsible in the Pine Barrens is to hold the authorities accountable for making people follow the rules.
 

ed

New Member
Dec 31, 1969
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In the 70's I used to get permits to cut firewood at the Atsion ranger station. This was during and after the oil embargo. They only issued so many permits per day, so the line started before 3:00 AM. We would line up our trucks and the ranger would lead us to the cutting area. We were allowed to take any oak, standing or fallen, living or dead. The ranger explained that we were removing the fuel for the fires since the oak caught fire more easily than pine, and burned more intensely. The pine had some resistance to a fast moving fire in the underbrush. Plus they wanted the pinebarrens to remain pines, the way the natural fire cycle kept it before man started putting out the fires, thus favoring the oaks.

I also read somewhere that young vigrously growing trees do alot more for the environment than old ones. Not only in cleaning up the air, but also providing a varied habitat for wildlife (food close to the ground, etc.).

Don't get me wrong, I like to see old trees too. Some animals like to nest high in the big ones, we just need varity.

One nice place to see this is the cedar swamp north of Martha. Part of it was clear cut, the hugh contrast between the old growth sticks towering over the vigorous almost inpenetratable new growth is impressive. That's biodiversity.
 

farmerbob

New Member
Dec 31, 1969
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My club the South Jersey Astronomy Club wanted to clear a section of the Belleplain State Forest for a new public observatory, we got permission but were told that each year for the whole state forest there is a clear cutting limit of 1499 square feet!.
The Buckschtem WMA, is clearing about 200 acres in Millville because the dense top growth of mature pines and oaks have limited the plant diversity on the forest floor.
As a wood burner its very very hard to hike a trail and walk past standing dead dry oak and not want to cut it down...Bob.
 

Teegate

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BarryC

Explorer
Dec 31, 1969
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members.tripod.com
Hey Guy!
In the plants and nature gallery in the photo section of our ghost towns club I have a picture I took of that area in the late 1980s or so. Have you seen that picture? They had to put a fence around it to keep the deer from eating the young trees.
 

Teegate

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Sep 17, 2002
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Barry,

I have looked through the gallery many times and for some reason I have never viewed the Plant's and Nature Gallery. Why I missed that one is a mystery. I just saw your photo and will look it over more closely in the morning. I have to get up in 5 hours to get my daughter off to Florida so I am heading to bed. I am sorry I had not checked that gallery out sooner.

I will certainly tomorrow.

Guy
 

JeffD

Explorer
Dec 31, 1969
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Evidently, over the years wise management has kept a balance between sections of continuous, mature woods and open areas in the Pine Barrens, maintaining the mosiac of forest and field typical of much of this part of the county. I too am partial to areas where there are mature stands of pine trees with little undergrowth. But it's nice to see an occasional open area in the woods as well as it being good to keep the forest diversified and healthy. Done on a hilltop, clearings help you see the forest below (otherwise you won't see the forest for the trees).

Managing the Pine Barrens to maintain the pines as a dominant species is a good idea. It was interesting to learn that oaks fuel the fire more than pines, and that is one good reason to harvest oaks in the Pine Barrens. Unlike much of the national forests, which through neglect have become fire hazards, short-lived stringent restrictions on cutting trees in the Pine Barrens have not really hurt efforts to make the woods fire resistant. Cutting oaks emulates the fires that have thinned them out. And the timber contracts on land in the Pine Barrens will be an area that developers can't grab.

Fire, in the form of controlled burns, certainly plays an important role in keeping the forest healthy, although not as extensive as what most likely happened before anyone lived in the Pine Barrens. It seems to me that enriching the soil is the most important role of fire in the Pine Barrens today. That and reducing the risk of catastrophic wildfire by burning slash on the forest floor.

Balance is the key to managing the Pine Barrens. Keeping a few dead trees, especially ones with cavities, in the woods provides homes for wildlife, which have a place in the forest ecology. I once read about a certain formula for how many dead trees, etc, should be kept per acre. Too many dead and dying trees is a recipe for an unhealthy forest and a fire hazard but retaining the right amount facilitates multiple use management.

I am continually amazed at all the sand roads in the Pine Barrens. It's no wonder hand crews aren't used to fight forest fires. The roads take fire fighting crews close to almost any fire, and the specially equipped vehicles can literally dig in and put line in to contain the fire. On the Apple Pie Hill subject were stories about fires quickly spotted and put out. The one that happened a few weeks ago was put out quickly, even though the forest was dry for that time of year.

The Pine Barrens is well protected from destruction by forest fires. It's the developers and people who abuse the area that threatens the Pine Barrens. Maybe if they somehow by hook or crook find a way past the gatekeepers of the Pine Barrens, perhaps you could balance the equasion by emulating the historic natural fires by conducting a controlled burn on the development. Fire is the Jersey Devil's only friend (my apologies to Don Maclean and his By By Miss American Pie).