Headline News from the NJFA – Summer 2023

Reminder!  The deadline for filing for Farmland Assessment is August 1.


NJFA 2023 Organizational Meeting resulted in the election of Elmer Platz (2022 NJ Tree Farmer of the Year) as President, Richard Kelsky as Vice-President and Secretary, and Stephen Spencer as Treasurer.  Please give your support to these volunteer officers by attending meetings and events, and increasing your donations and membership levels, if you can.   


Walk In the Woods program got underway with two walks in the Sparta Mountain Wildlife Management Area.  These first two walks were led by Sharon Petzinger, Senior Zoologist at New Jersey Department of Fish and Wildlife, and Ryan Hasko, Stewardship Program Coordinator at New Jersey Department of Fish and Wildlife.  Kristen Meistrell, Vice President of Stewardship at New Jersey Audubon, was a co-presenter on Walk #1.  NJFA President, Elmer Platz, VP Richard Kelsky and Director Andy Bennett joined the groups.  More walks are in the planning stages.


NJFA Annual Meeting was held on May 18, 2023, live and in-person.  Yes, we have returned to live annual meetings and this one was a showstopper.  With a list of prominent presenters speaking and taking questions on critical subjects affecting NJ’s woodlands, the meeting was well-attended, and was supported by key industry suppliers, such as Echo, Northeastern Arborist Supply, Husqvarna, Gracie & Harrigan, Hanover Power Sports, and Stihl, who made a presentation on the evolution of battery-powered equipment.  We thank our supporters and donors for making the event a success.

Backyard Forestry Series continues on its “Third Thursday of Each Month” schedule, with presentations from experts and expert panels.  This year’s presentations have included Matt Olsen, Ethan Tapper and Don Donnelly, John Hooven, Sharon Petzinger, and a special informational BYF on Farmland Assessment of Woodlands, hosted by Andy Bennett, with guest Kristen Umansky, Tax Assessor. Click here to view this month's topic.

2023 Woodland Stewards Program will be held on September 21-24, 2023 at YMCA Camp Linwood MacDonald in Sandyston, NJ (near Stokes State Forest). You can register online here. The 3-1/2 day educational program includes meals and lodging for a fee of only $75. 

The NJ Forest Task Force issued its report and consensus framework for NJ’s public forests early this year.  The NJFA was honored to be named as one of the four co-chair organizations, which included a diverse group of conservation organizations: NJFA, NJ Audubon, NJ Sierra Club, and NJ Conservation Foundation, which reached consensus after a year’s hard work and extensive solicitation of workgroup input.  Legislation to implement the framework is pending.  The NJFA issued a letter of support for the framework and in response to dissenters’ comments at the hearing.


Tree Farm Day 2023 was held by NJ Tree Farm at the Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge on June 2.  The NJFA supported the event, with NJFA President Elmer Platz, VP Richard Kelsky, Treasurer Stephen Spencer, and Executive Director, Lori Jenssen, in attendance.  The NJFA conducted a survey of attendees on critical issues for forest landowners, and NJFA events and membership, in order to help the NJFA better serve its members and the NJ forest community.  This was a great event, with a fantastic program, a beautiful venue, good food and an excellent time was had by all.  Please watch for next year’s Tree Farm Day and attend.


Legislation and Court Decisions that affect NJ’s forests are being tracked by the NJFA for activity and possible comment.  We are presently tracking several bills of interest as well as activity in the courts.  


A recent Supreme Court of the United States decision, Sackett v. EPA, appears to have limited the EPA’s authority regarding regulation of wetlands.  Impacts and reactions at the state level are being monitored.  Impacts within NJ are not anticipated as NJ already has some of the most comprehensive wetlands legislation in the nation.


Deer Management is the subject of a recent pending bill.  The NJFA commented on that bill and noted its concerns regarding private property rights.


Invasive Species bill is pending passage with the support of many organizations, including the NJFA, New Jersey Forest Task Force, Farm Bureau and the New Jersey Nursery & Landscape Association.  The NJFA issued a letter supporting this bill.


NJ Highlands Council May, 2023 meeting was attended by NJFA President, Elmer Platz and VP Richard Kelsky.  Among other matters covered, the NJHC received a report on a site visit to the Sparta Mountain Wildlife Management Area to observe the Management activities outlined in the approved Sparta Mountain Forest Stewardship Plan.  The report was comprehensive and the conclusion noted that “Overall, this site visit/tour of Sparta Mountain Wildlife Management Area was beneficial to Highlands staff as it allowed us to see first-hand the work that was being conducted in accordance with the approved Forest Stewardship Plan.”


NJFA is seeking to expand its Board of Directors.  Please email our Executive Director, Lori Jenssen with the names and contact information for qualified, interested candidates. 


The NJFA wishes you a pleasant and productive summer!

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