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News for Our Members

Greetings, Members and Friends!

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It’s been a while since we shared any information about our round of chores: defending resources, taking positions, joining in on preservation planning, and in general exercising the reputation you’ve helped us earn to make the preservation message heard.

Trust Works with New Jersey Highlands Coalition

For the last few years, we’ve multiplied our energies by working closely with the New Jersey Highlands Coalition. They are a large, highly visible group comprised mostly of environmentalists. Their job is to support and improve the Highlands Act, which has turned out to be very unpopular with those landowners in the Highlands region who were pinning their hopes on the possibility of unfettered development in Hunterdon, Morris, Sussex, and Warren Counties. The Coalition could be strong, if the Highlands Act were implemented effectively. Because voices in the Coalition are few on the cultural side of the table, we have emerged as the primary defender of cultural resources. In fact, the plan of implementation, as devised by the Highlands Council staff, is incomplete-to-weak in this area. We were hoping to lead a Coalition effort to urge specific improvements to this section of the plan, but now it remains to be seen where the changed politics of the state will take the entire protective effort. Be advised that both cultural and natural resources in the Highlands are in very serious danger at the moment.

Energy Corridors Threaten Cultural and Natural Resources

A universal threat to all kinds of resources, natural as well as cultural, in northern and central New Jersey, is the ubiquitous energy corridor. Running scared ahead of new limits to dirty energy production – like coal-fired plants and fracking – the big providers are crossing all the spaces between their production sites and the heaviest markets for consumption. The huge grid of which Susquehanna-Roseland is just a part carries very high-wattage power from the coal plants of Ohio to, ultimately, Jersey City and then across the river to light-bulb nirvana. Other power lines join it in transit. And then the gas lines, one under temporary embargo from the president, follow the same paths across the mountain tops of beautiful northern New Jersey, bringing in heavy construction vehicles across delicate habitat, shallow archaeological sites, and Register-listed ruins from our state’s early years of development. Consultants over the years haven’t even begun to find all the natural and cultural resources in its path, yet the beautiful vistas and uncounted remains of our iron industry heritage would be overrun with construction equipment and lost before they are discovered. This kind of destruction cannot be mitigated, not by site compensation, not by replacement, not by cash. Energy providers insist that they are heading off blackouts in future years, but all studies show that the demand for power is declining. We cannot allow our self-indulgent use of resources to destroy the quality of our natural and built environments. Turn off your TV and ride your bicycle!

Dam Removal

We applaud the efforts of watershed associations to restore the quality of rivers like the Musconetcong, which forms the border between Morris and Warren Counties. Like many others on the eastern seaboard, this is a river with a long historical function as the main avenue of commerce in the area. It is rich with industrial archaeological remnants like building foundations, water diversion traces, and, above all, crumbling dams. The environmental and recreational arms of the watershed movement are anxious to remove all traces of these dams so that fishermen and kayakers may enjoy the river freely. Using arguments about water health and original condition, they have carried the day with preservation interests, even in cases where the ruins were Register-listed. Meanwhile, proponents of local power development – a true sustainable goal – have pointed out that these remnants may be adaptively reused as small hydropower plants. A group has formed to address the preservation perspective, hoping to achieve, eventually, a state-wide policy for protection and adaptive reuse of character-defining dams. This is going to be a long discussion.

We Need Your Help

Please join us for another year of preservation on the ground. Tell your colleagues about us; we need their support as well. If your town commission has operating questions, we want to be their go-to source, and if they don’t yet exist, we can help them get started. If you’re fighting political battles over preservation issues, give us a call. We can help with homeowner questions, too. Or send us an email and be a part of the solution to sprawl, over development, and loss of community character.  Click here to print out a membership application.

 

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