Photo by Ann GenaderThe Tennessee Gas Pipeline project in 2011 left this mountain off Clinton Road barren. A tree replanting compensation project is underway throughout West Milford Township to replace trees that were destroyed.
By Ann Genader West Milford — Thousands of trees may soon be planted throughout West Milford to compensate for the loss created by the Tennessee Gas Pipeline. The status of West Milford’s $620,197 New Jersey Department of Environmental (NJDEP) Protection grant for compensation of tree and vegetation loss during the Tennessee Gas Pipeline 300 line and Northeast Upgrade project is currently being reviewed for completion. The grant was issued by the pipeline company in accord with New Jersey’s No Net Loss Reforestation Act requiring the pipeline company to replace trees removed because of their project. West Milford Environmental Commission (EC) Chair Steve Sangle said the next step after the review is completed will be to have an inspection by the NJDEP with the contractor, EC forester and township officials to confirm that the contractor has completed his work in accord with the contract and grant. “Once that is completed the contractor may have to make some corrective actions — if necessary as per NJDEP recommendations — to comply with the contract and grant requirements,” said EC Chair Steve Sangle. “Once this is completed the NJDEP should authorize payment as per the grant to correspond with the results of the inspections.” The project called for 2,000 trees to be planted to replace the negative environmental impact when trees were destroyed to make way for the 6.7 mile pipeline through the township. The township authorized a grant agreement with the NJDEP to plant the trees on public lands throughout the township. The trees cannot be planted on the pipeline — where trees had been destroyed — because that area must be kept clear for maintenance and safety. In 2016, the township entered into a work contract with Fullerton Ground Maintenance of Kenvil for $591,000, determined to be lowest cost responsible bidder who conformed to all legal requirements. There were two other bids submitted. The grant money covers cost associated with the project including planning, planting, and supervision. The grant provisions gave the contractor responsibility for watering and caring for the trees for two years after they were planted to ensure their survival. A Community Forestry Management Plan (a prerequisite) was prepared by Ron Farr, a township resident who is a certified forester. Former Recreation Director Tim Roetman worked with Farr to establish a list of planting sites. Earlier in 2015, former Township Administrator Kenneth Gabbert also worked with Farr. Farr resigned as an EC commissioner in April 2013 and then took on the assignment to prepare the Community Forestry Management Plan for the township. The plan — half of which was funded by a $3,000 Green Communities NJDEP grant — was a requirement before the larger grant could be approved. In the Spring of 2017, planting sites listed for consideration in Farr’s initial report were Camp Hope, Bubbling Springs Municipal Park, CYO Field (along the lake only), Farrell Field, Greenwood Lake Turnpike, south side and limited north side planting, Apple Acres, Hillcrest building grounds, Wallisch Estates, Mount Laurel Field, West Milford Recreation building, San-Cap Ball Field and the Teen Center at Westbrook Park. Other possible sites for the tree planting as listed in the report are the Wes Milford Municipal Building area, the Community Fire Company of Newfoundland and Oak Ridge, the Newfoundland Ambulance Corps building and Brown’s Point.