As active stewards of the Reservation, and impassioned advocates for it, the Conservancy is concerned with numerous issues that currently or potentially could degrade the aesthetics, ecology, and infrastructure of the park and the experience of its users. These issues, and our positions, are described on the following pages.
Deer Management: Reducing the white-tailed deer population through an annual controlled hunt is imperative to allow the understory to grow and the forest to regenerate. Without it, the forest as we know it will disappear in a few decades.
Remediation and Fines Sought for Encroachment into Reservation behind 16 and 20 Woodcrest Ave., Short Hills: A wide 7,000 sq. ft. hillside within the SMR just west of the Elmdale Trail was clear cut of an estimated 24 14-inch diameter trees and replanted with grass. This severe encroachment was identified by an SMC trailkeeper, David Croman, and brought to the attention of the SMC which informed the NJ DEP which monitors open space land. The NJ DEP requested a comprehensive restoration plan from the County. (The Conservancy has yet to see it despite several requests.)
The Conservancy has also been urging the County Counsel, James Paganelli, to fine the contractor and/or home owner (responsibility is disputed) commensurate to the damage done. The Conservancy estimates the damage at $169,000 according to calculations made by NJ American Water when they removed trees for a nearby easement off Glen Ave., Millburn. Without such legal action, homeowners adjacent to the Reservation may come to believe they can encroach on public land with impunity. (See documents below for details.)
Rahway Alternative Flood Solutions Alliance (RAFSA): In response to a proposed 880-foot long, 70-foot high dam across the southern section of the Reservation for flood abatement being considered by the by the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), the South Mountain Conservancy and a number of local environmentalists, both lay and professional, and other stakeholder organizations have formed RAFSA.
Opposition to the planned Orange Reservoir Dog Park: The County plans an unnecessary dog park at the Orange reservoir, nearly a half mile from parking, which would destroy a large, mature section of the pine forest, and potentially create non-point source pollution from the storm water runoff. Read our letter to the mayor of Orange, the town that owns the land being leased by the County.