Photographing the pipeline route, Part 11: Kingwood into Frenchtown

This section of the pipeline route has the pipeline going through incredible scenic views, state parks, and extraordinarily steep slopes. Clearly you can see this part of Hunterdon County is really hilly with many streams, brooks, and creeks.

Spring Hill Road Scenic View
A view from Spring Hill Road to the North West. I included these shots as a far reaching view of the country the pipeline is going through.

Spring Hill Road Scenic view closeup
A closeup view of the previous shot.

Spring Hill Road Scenic Rolling Mountains
A closeup on the mountains in the distance.

Spring Hill Road View to the North
A view more to the North rom Spring Hill Road.

Spring Hill Road Copper Creek Preserve
Down the road from the scenic view is an entry way into the Copper Creek Preserve. This preserve is part of the larger Horseshoe Bend Preserve, 477 acres of preserved land in the bluffs overlooking the Delaware River. The preserve took 10 years of negotiation to put together and is owned by Kingwood Township and is a true treasure in Hunterdon County. My wife and I regularly take our dogs to a dog run they’ve created on Horseshoe Bend road; it’s a 6 acre completely fenced in field where dogs can run free off of leases without worrying they’ll run away or get into trouble.

The pipeline is slated to go through the middle of the entire length of the preserve and cross all of its major streams, including Copper Creek.

Spring Hill Road Copper Creek Preserve sign
Here’s the electric company easement and a Copper Creek Preserve sign next to it. In a cruel twist of irony the pipeline route is probably going right through where the sign is today.

Spring Hill Road Copper Creek Preserve looking north
Looking north along the cut. Another narrow zone that will most likely need to be widened by PennEast.

Spring Hill Road looking north closeup
A closeup of the previous shot.

Spring Hill Road looking South
Looking south from Spring Hill Road. The cut looks even narrower on this side.

Spring Hill Road looking South widen angle
A wider angle of the previous shot.

Spring Hill Road Green acres sign
A green acres sign just west of the pipeline route. I guess we’ll have to change the text from:

“This privately owned land is dedicated to public recreation and/or conservation purposes”


“This privately owned land is dedicated to public recreation and/or conservation purposes and/or energy company profits”.

Horseshoe Bend Road, The Farm
On Horsehoe Bend Road is a site labelled simply “The Farm”. I googled this a year ago and I forgot the story behind it, and I can’t seem to find it now. I feel like it might’ve been a religious organization or something that owns the land. The pipeline will be running right through their property and is where it will cross Copper Creek.

Horseshoe Bend Road, The Farm and Copper Creek
Picture of Copper Creek running along The Farm’s driveway. The Pipeline will cut across both the driveway and the creek.

Horseshoe Bend Road, Copper River bridge
Stone bridge over the Copper Creek. This shows how strong the current can be during times of snow melt and heavy rain.

Ridge Road clearing
Over on Ridge Road in Frenchtown, NJ the pipeline veers away from existing easements and beats a virgin path through the land. Here we’re looking South East from the road.

Ridge Road clearning, Ridge Road Farmer’s Club
Apparently the Ridge Road Farmer’s Club owns this land. Let’s hope they keep PennEast out.

Creek Road, no dumping!
Creek Road in Frenchtown is, frankly, a terror. It’s dirt at the best times, and pure mud when I went over it. It’s barely wide enough for my pickup truck. To the left is a steep drop of at least 20 feet down into Nishisakawick Creek. To the right is a steep hill going up the mountain. The road curves constantly and is simply scary as hell to drive on. Apparently it serves only two houses, then turns into a state park following the Creek. I’m guessing it’s mostly for fishermen but not sure. The DEP says the creek is home to 20 different species of fish. As you can see the town is worried about illegal dumpers polluting the creek. Let’s hope they arrest and fine PennEast when they try to bring their pipeline through!

Creek Road, no dumping really!
They really, really want to remind you that dumping is illegal here.

Creek Road, diabase at surface
This was right up to and next to the road. It’s diabase bedrock, as you can see it’s bare on the surface here. It’s very tough and PennEast will have to blast to get down to 8′. And they’ll be blasting right next to a protected creek.

Creek Road, creek crossing point looking North West
This is where the pipeline route goes across the creek. The steep on the far end is incredibly steep.

Creek Road Creek Crossing Point Looking South East
Holy crap, look South East and the slope is even steeper! PennEast is gonna dig an 8′ trench in that!? And this is all virgin clear cut, bisecting the creek park land.

Creek Road wide view to north west
A wider angle view of crossing to the north west.

Creek Road trout stocking sign
A standard trout stocking sign from the Dept of Fisheries and Wildlife.

Creek Road state park sign
State park warning sign. They need to add “no massive heavy construction and blasting” to the list.

Creek Road tributary
A small stream that feeds into the creek. You can see how close to the surface the diabase rock is here, that’s what forms the stream bed.

Creek Road Creek view
A view of the creek from inside my truck. The road was so narrow I didn’t want to get out here!

Illegal trespass

I think from context that Mark and Maureen from Frenchtown are related to the college student who’s submission I highlighted in a prior post, possibly parents?

They have a whole lot of issues with PennEast, the proposed route, and the conduct of the PennEast representatives:

Our family Supports under no uncertain terms the NO BUILD option for health, environmental and economic reasons. This proposed pipeline will sever our working family farm in half and will run the full width of our farm property and pass within 200 feet of our home and well.

Our concerns include and are not limited to:

1)Blasting could facilitate contamination of our well water with arsenic, radon and other toxins. This affects not only human drinking water consumption but our farm animal water consumption; in addition, contaminating our bathing water and watering of our organic vegetable and flower gardens.

2)Our home and farm animal barns are within the blast zone.

3)The pipeline path is positioned to follow our farm field drainage route causing re-direction of this natural storm water/snow melt run off, in addition, crossing cultivated prime agricultural soils. These soils are highly erodible and shallow.

4)This pipeline corridor encompasses very steep (greater than 45 %) ledge, crosses over Nishisakawick Creek (bedrock stream bed) and adjacent wetlands to the creek; in addition this pipeline will cross another small tributary to the Nishisakawick Creek that feeds our pond used for swimming, fishing, (large established plant, amphibian and water fowl populations located here)

5)This pipeline will cross historic original route 12 severely compromising existing macadam roadbed.

6)A centuries old, landmark to the farm, oak tree will be taken down to accommodate this pipeline.

7)Within close proximately to the proposed route is a nesting osprey and endangered bats.

8)Our intention was to preserve our farm; this will be impossible if this pipeline goes through. Sale of our farm in the future will be difficult at best and the value of the property will dramatically be compromised.

9)Lastly, we want PennEast and the public to know that our property was surveyed in multiple locations without permission, a state police report was filed, image of a trespasser was captured on trail cam, a metal surveyor box was left on our property (coincidentally under that old oak tree) and survey tape was removed.

In addition to our personal concerns we support all concerns of our neighbors and local New Jersey community officials and neighbors- degradation/devastation to this Delaware River Valley- our water resources and lands, scarring of our treasured open land that locals and visitors enjoy, the conflict of interest in the official studies/surveys to determine the viability of this project, countless stories of trespass, the lack of fair compensation to land owners if this project moves forward to address on-going land use and potential damage to water quality, the unwillingness of PennEast to explore first the option of using existing approved pipeline and power line easement routes, and THE DANGER to humans wild and plant life.

I’ve seen a number of reports of PennEast reps trespassing on people’s lands. They can’t be doing this by accident – there are literally an order of magnitude more “POSTED – NO TRESPASSING” signs in Hunterdon county then there are stop signs.

Their submission is below:

Mark and Maureen’s submission – FERC Generated PDF

Mark and Maureen’s submission – FERC Generated PDF Alternate Site

Growing up on a family farm

Ian from Frenchtown, NJ is a college student who wrote to the FERC to tell them about his life growing up on a farm in NJ:

Growing up on my family farm has been one of the most defining aspects of my childhood, and it has played a huge hand in making me who I am today. There has been nothing like being able to walk outside and having the world at my fingertips; whether I hunt, farm, or work in my family’s garden, I was privileged to have this experience as a child.

The experience, and life lessons learned from living where I do, is something that I would have loved to give my future children. Sadly there is something that could stop me from gifting them that experience if the Penn East Pipeline is approved. My family’s farm will not be the same. The pipeline will run directly through the center of my family’s property, which shockingly, would be terrible. For starters the pipeline would destroy farmland and take away a source of income for my parents. Also, it would run directly through the woods, destroying cover and shelter for the deer and other wildlife. Last but not least, it has the potential to not only contaminate the water supply to my house, but also for the nearby town of Frenchtown.

To recap and reinforce, the Penn East Pipeline will destroy everything that I love about where I live. The farming will be compromised along with hunting; most importantly, my family and I could be gone as well and potentially countless other families in my area if our water source is destroyed.

If this did not convince you about how special my home is to me, below is my college essay that I wrote a year ago. It pertains to how defining farms are to those families who own them. (After you read my essay you will understand this comment: “In addition, my favorite and my granddad’s favorite hedgerow is in the direct path of this pipeline and will be demolished.”)

He then goes on to share the essay he wrote for a college class the year before. The topic of the essay was to describe a place “where you are perfectly content”, and to further describe “what do you do or experience there, and why is this meaningful?”.

Opening day of hunting season has arrived and our family tradition remains the same; we get up before dawn and at the kitchen table, over a steaming pot of coffee and my mom’s freshly baked pumpkin bread, we reminisce about opening days in the past, and discuss the new day ahead. My family surrounds me at my kitchen table and I am content.

It is finally time to head outside. Frost crunches under my feet as I begin the walk from my house to my favorite stand. I live on a farm and this long walk goes quickly, or so I think, as my footsteps keep pace with my heart’s deafening beat. I know these woods like the back of my hand as I have walked them since I was a child and yet, in the dark, they look so foreign to me.

I finally come to my stand and settle in to wait. Mother nature is not on anyone’s schedule except her own. It is this unpredictability about my time in the woods that is intriguing and it is the only environment in which I am completely content.

The sport of hunting is important to me on so many levels. It is about spending time with family and being alone. It is about being in a place where tradition holds value, where knowledge and skills are taught and passed down through generations carefully, and where, at my age; I can contribute to providing for my family.

When I am outside in the woods or meadow, I see nature in its most natural state. I sit silently and pay attention to observing animals going about their business without any human interference in their natural habitat. Being in this environment is peaceful and there is a quiet that I experience here that is unique to
all other aspects of my life.

I am a student, soccer and baseball player, golfer, SCUBA diver, fisherman, and coach. I volunteer, travel with my family, bowl with my friends every Monday night, and I am an adrenaline junkie who seeks adventure and excitement in everything that I do.

However, I am fortunate that I understand at such a young age that every once in a while I need to take a break from all the excitement and activity, and take time to be still and think about what ever comes to mind. I was lucky to find hunting as my source of meditation. Sitting in the woods twenty feet in the air with nothing but untamed nature surrounding me is the only place in which I am at peace and completely content.

The most recent proposed route shows the pipeline going right through the middle of the farm Ian so clearly loves.

His submission is available here:

Ian’s submission – FERC Generated PDF

Ian’s submission – FERC Generated PDF Alternate Site

The Nishisakawick Creek

Eric from Frenchtown, NJ writes about the threat the pipeline is to the environment around his home on the Nishisakawick Creek. The story quickly goes from talking about bald eagle citings to mention of a horrific 36″ gas pipeline explosion in the 90s in Edison, NJ:

I have read just about every comment submitted to date, regarding the proposed PennEast pipeline – I’m sure FERC has, as well. Aside from a handful of comments from individuals, ALL of the remarks favoring this project (perhaps a dozen) are from those that will directly profit from it. Utility companies & union representatives are all raving about the public benefit. This is in stark contrast to the hundreds of comments from the land owners, local governments, scientists, environmental groups, and individuals who view this project as a potential disaster. Why?

For the record, I live in Frenchtown, NJ and my home is adjacent to the Nishisakawick Creek. This stream has a C1 classification and for good reason. It is home to many species of animals that are endangered and/or threatened through loss of habitat. Three weeks ago, my wife and I had the pleasure of watching this bald eagle hunting next to our house:

As of 2012, there were only 119 breeding pairs of eagles in the state of NJ. Over the years I have also had the joy of viewing goshawk, bobcat, and corn snakes in our backyard, which are all classified as endangered by the NJDEP. Not to mention, the black bear, owls, heron, fox, coyote, deer, and dozens of other species that make regular appearances during the year. The stream is pristine and FERC should reject the PennEast proposal, out-of-hand, on this basis alone.

However, aside from the huge environmental impact this project will have, I am equally concerned about my family’s safety. Our home is located well within the thermal radius of the pipeline should it rupture. And in spite of all of the assurances from PennEast, NO ONE can erase the memory I have of the Durham Woods pipeline explosion in 1994. The flames were so high, I thought that my neighbor’s house was on fire, yet we were over 25 miles away. If this were to happen in Hunterdon, putting out the ensuing fires would be next to impossible, as our rural community relies on water tanker shuttles. Just how will PennEast handle a massive forest fire fueled by thousands of cubic feet per second of natural gas? Put simply, they can’t.

I took the time to carefully read PennEast’s “Draft Resource Report 1 and Summary of Alternatives.” In my humble opinion, the sections outlining project necessity and project alternatives were inadequate to say the least. According to PennEast’s report, the binding reservations during their “open season” demonstrated the need for this project. This is fallacious, as it only proves that members of the PennEast consortium (Spectra, UGI et al) want access to cheaper natural gas. According to the US Energy Information Administration, the existing pipeline infrastructure in NJ/NY can meet current firm demand without any problem. And recently, FERC has approved many major pipeline improvement projects to address future demand. Expansion projects with expected in-service dates between 2013 and 2015 have or will “add at least 3.5 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) of additional capacity to New York/New Jersey and Mid-Atlantic markets.” These include the Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line Co.’s Leidy Southeast Expansion & Virginia Southside Expansion Projects, Tennessee Gas Pipeline Company’s Line 300 Expansion, Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line Co.’s Bayonne Delivery Lateral Project, Algonquin Gas Transmission’s Hubline/East to West Project, and Texas Eastern’s Transmission pipeline expansion project from Linden, New Jersey to Manhattan, New York.

New Jersey is already awash in gas transmission pipelines meeting current & future demand, and yet the gas industry insists that we need more. This is complete and utter nonsense and we certainly don’t need to cut across every Category One stream in our state to have another.

The explosion he mentions was written up in the New York times. According to the wikipedia article on the explosion:,_New_Jersey_natural_gas_explosion

…was caused by a rupture in a 36″ natural gas pipeline.  Not too coincidentally, PennEast is a 36″ natural gas pipeline.

Eric’s submission is available below:

Eric’s submission – FERC Generated PDF

Eric’s submission – FERC Generated PDF Alternate Site