The New Jersey Natural Heritage Program means nothing to PennEast

Cathy Urbanksi, the chair of the West Amwell Township Environmental Commission, has made another submission to the FERC site.

The New Jersey Natural Heritage Program
“As New Jersey continues to experience industrial and economic growth, it is imperative that we take steps to ensure that remaining areas of natural significance be preserved for their resource potential, their educational and research use, and their aesthetic and cultural values for present and future generations. As we become more aware of our dependence on our natural environment for our well-being and ultimate survival, we must answer one question: how can we best preserve our irreplaceable natural heritage.

The New Jersey Natural Heritage Program identifies the state’s most significant natural areas through a comprehensive inventory of rare plant and animal species and representative ecological communities. From the inventory, the Natural Heritage Database compiles information on the distribution, biology, status, and preservation needs of these species and communities”. (NJDEP)

The Natural Heritage Priority Sites Coverage was created to identify critically important areas to conserve New Jersey’s biological diversity, with particular emphasis on rare plant species and ecological communities.

“Using the Natural Heritage Database, the Office of Natural Lands Management (ONLM) has identified 343 Natural Heritage Priority Sites, representing some of the best remaining habitat for rare species and rare ecological communities in the state. These areas should be considered to be top priorities for the preservation of biological diversity in New Jersey. If these sites become degraded or destroyed, we may lose some of the unique components of our natural heritage.” (NJDEP).

Goat Hill has been designated as a Natural Heritage Priority Site. Goat Hill is the westernmost boundary of the Sourland Mountain. It is a steep, woody diabase hillside and the site contains three state endangered plant species (NJDEP). Any disturbance to the natural environment of this area should be absolutely prohibited. See map, below.

The PennEast preferred alternate route comes dangerously close and actually crosses this Natural Heritage Priority site. Any altercation to this site, whether from pipeline construction, the noxious gasses emanating continuously from the pipeline, possible explosions, or herbicide use, would pose a serious problem to the endangered plants. This area is a priority site for a very good reason.

We request that FERC choose the pipeline option of “no build” in order to preserve our critical ecological and rare communities and our fragile natural environment.

George Fisher, Mayor, West Amwell Township
Cathy Urbanski, Environmental Commission Chair, West Amwell Township

The map described is this one below:

The fat black line is (appropriately) the pipeline route.

This is the important part from their submission:

Goat Hill has been designated as a Natural Heritage Priority Site. Goat Hill is the westernmost boundary of the Sourland Mountain. It is a steep, woody diabase hillside and the site contains three state endangered plant species (NJDEP). Any disturbance to the natural environment of this area should be absolutely prohibited.

 

West Amwell has an extensive history of preserving land, both for ecological reasons and so we can continue to be a rural township in perpetuity. People like Cathy have been ceaseless in their efforts at preservation. And it isn’t just talk – we spend time and money ensuring the safety of our land.

Take a look at the West Amwell Natural Resource Inventory. The last entry in the document talks about Goat Hill:

The database has identified Natural Heritage Priority Sites that represent some of the best remaining habitat for rare species and exemplary natural communities in the state. These areas should be considered to be top priorities for the preservation of biological diversity in New Jersey. If these sites become degraded or destroyed, we may lose some of the unique components of our natural heritage.

Goat Hill has been designated as a Natural Heritage Priority Site (Figure 19). Goat Hill is the westernmost boundary of the Sourlands. It is a steep, woody diabase hillside and the site contains three state endangered plant species. This site was preserved in its entirety by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, Green Acres in 2008. It is now known as Goat Hill Overlook.

My town has been at this for quite some time. Here’s a NJDEP release from 2003 talking about West Amwell’s preservation efforts at that time. It mentions:

Standing with local, state government and community leaders at Fiddler’s Creek Farm, Campbell announced the acquisition of the 197-acre turkey farm located in West Amwell. The preservation of Fiddler’s Creek Farm creates a continuous expanse of preserved land connecting the Delaware River Greenway and the Sourland Mountain Greenway. Fiddler’s Creek Farm consists of forested stream corridor, hayfields and pasture and commands a 360-degree view of the surrounding countryside, the Delaware River and Bowman’s Tower in Pennsylvania. A branch of Moores Creek, which supports 18 species of fish, flows through the property, connecting it to other preserved properties including the Howell Living History Farm and Baldpate Mountain. Delaware & Raritan Greenway, the Green Acres Program Hunterdon County and West Amwell Township were partners in the preservation of Fiddler’s Creek Farm.

Of course it goes without saying that the PennEast pipeline will be going through both Moore’s Creek and Fiddler’s creek.

West Amwell is also hardly alone in these efforts. Every town in Hunterdon has significant conservation programs in place and you see Green Acres, Open Spaces, Preserved Farmland, and D&R Land Trust signs all over the place. We think preserving the land is important. Too bad PennEast doesn’t.

The West Amwell submission is below:

West Amwell NJ – FERC Generated PDF

West Amwell NJ – FERC Generated PDF Alternate Site

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Mike Spille

I'm a thinker, an analyzer, a synthesizer. Maybe not in that order. I live in West Amwell NJ with my wife Kristina, our two kids Day and Z, our two dogs Fern and Cinna, and two cats Ponce de Leon and Xavier.

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