On April 12th, The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection was granted approval to a plan to clear-cut 16.4 acres of white pine trees in Bass River State Forest. The trees are blocking the view to the south and east from a forest fire lookout tower.
The white pines were planted in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps., a federal agency that was responsible for replanting in deforested areas. Now, nearly a century later, the white pines are towering over the 89-foot tall fire tower and native pitch pines. The state Forest Fire Service, a division of the DEP, wants to clear a swath close to the tower to give lookouts a clearer view of smoke or fire.
Environmentalists against the clearcutting say the aging tower should be moved or replaced on higher ground, or cameras be mounted on existing radio towers. The DEP has dismissed these options as too expensive or unreliable.
The trees will remain standing for at least another month, while the DEP solicits and weighs bids for the clear-cutting.