SPARTA, NJ  - Following action taken at the Newton Town Council meeting, Sparta residents brought their concerns about a new logging plan to the Sparta Township Council on Tuesday night.  The plan is to harvest 23.5 acres of trees at Morris Lake off  Glen Road.

The Town of Newton owns the property as part of their water system. 

At the Sparta meeting, Silvia Opresnick said she had forwarded information to the council members and township manager Bill Close.

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Mayor Gil Gibbs said, "Mr. Close will be getting as much information as possible.  We have to look after the citizens of Sparta."

Opresnick had brought up questions about the completeness of the Newton study and concerns that the property is a Natural Heritage Priority Site.  She said the Sussex County Soil Conservation Commission had not been involved with the plan.  She questioned the motives of the plan, saying it appeared to be more for profit than ecological concerns. 

Natural Heritage Priority Site designation means the property contains species of plants and animals that are exemplary, rare or imperiled at the state or global level according to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. 

On Monday night the Newton council approved a resolution to award a contract for timber harvesting services to Acheson Wood Services, Inc. of Newton.  The resolution said the project was recommended by forester Doug Tavella in a report dated August 22, 2016.

The bid document attached to the resolution said Newton would receive "50 percent of the delivered log price for the saw timber harvested...and $10 per cord for the firewood harvested from the site."

The bid document referenced two previous timber harvesting projects in 1996 and 1999 from which 55,000 and 36,000 board foot sawtimber was taken respectively.  The 1999 project was to "clean up and harvest dead hemlock."

"The staff will be looking into this," Close said.  "There are rules they have to follow within forestry rules;  rules about erosion and run off.  They may need permission to use private roads.  Some are in the jurisdiction of the state beyond our purview. I can't comment until we get all of the information."