South Jersey Climate News

South Jersey Climate News

South Jersey Climate News

(Image credit: NOAA Education/Kaleigh Ballantine)
How to mark Earth Day 2024 in South Jersey
Essence Holman, Staff Writer • April 18, 2024

A New Jersey wildlife agency destroyed a wetland. Environmental groups blew the whistle.

Destroyed+wetlands
Destroyed wetland in the Glassboro Wildlife Management Area. (Jada Ali and Joseph Pidgeon | South Jersey Climate News)

Video produced by Jada Ali
Camera and sound by Joseph Pidgeon

In March 2023, local environmental groups were outraged to discover that nearly 15 acres of wetlands and forest in South Jersey had been clearcut and bulldozed.

What made the violation most shocking was that it was carried out by a division of the New Jersey’s Department of Environmental Protection, the agency whose mission is to protect the state’s natural resources and to enforce its environmental laws.

The New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife had set out to create a meadow in the Glassboro Wildlife Management Area, a 2,300 acre forest in Gloucester County, to provide habitat for the American woodcock and to plant pollinating flowers. 

In the process they cut down towering trees, dug up soil, and destroyed nearly three acres of protected wetlands and nearly 12 acres of the surrounding area.

The Department of Environmental Protection declined a request for an interview, but provided a statement that described the area as “exceptional resource value freshwater wetlands.”

The state agency found that it had violated its own state laws and issued a $266,000 fine to the Division of Fish and Wildlife’s Bureau of Land Management. The agency that dug up the wetland is now charged with restoring it.

While it is still unclear exactly how or why the decisions on this project were made, it was the local organizations that played the role of watchdog, blowing the whistle on those who were supposed to be the caretakers of the environment.

Four local environmental organizations – Pinelands Preservation Alliance, New Jersey Conservation Foundation, South Jersey Land and Water Trust, and Citizens United to Protect the Maurice River – discovered the violation and brought it to the attention of the authorities, the press and the public.

See video footage of the destroyed wetland area and hear why it is so vital to preserve areas like this in New Jersey.

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