The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection has proposed the first changes in eight years to the state’s endangered species list. Some environmentalists said Wednesday that’s cause for alarm.
The DEP wants to add three birds, a dragonfly and the Indiana bat to the list of endangered wildlife in the Garden State. Eight birds, including the bald eagle, would be reclassified as endangered only during some times of the year. The need for protected habitat would be reduced by 31,000 thousand acres.
New Jersey Sierra Club Director Jeff Tittel said it would be a step backward for protecting wildlife and the environment. “It’s not just about the critters. It’s really about us. These lands that get protected because of endangered species also help filter the water and protect our streams and groundwater from pollution,” Tittel said. “They provide areas for recreation.” American Littoral Society executive director Tim Dillingham said it could lead to more development. “The endangered species habitat is often the basis for protecting open farm lands and New Jersey’s last remaining forests,” said Dillingham. “If that designation changes, those areas are very vulnerable to development because most towns do not protect them under their local zoning ordinances.”Tittel said development of the previously protected land would cause more sprawl, increase pollution, and result in higher property taxes.
The need for protected habitat would be reduced by 31,000 thousand acres.