Six Flags Agrees to Sierra Club NJ Injunction on Clear-Cut for Solar Project
Six Flags has agreed to stop the clear-cut of 16,000 trees before New Jersey Sierra Club and other environmental groups can have our day in Court. We had requested an injunction against Six Flags and KDC solar from conducting any clear-cutting activities because we believe they needed to wait until the outcome of our litigation. Our litigation contested approvals from the Jackson Twp. Committee and Planning Board. This stay is a victory for now because Six Flags/KDC may have moved forward with the clear-cut, without hearing the results of our litigation. We believe Six Flags’ plan is flawed given that there are plenty of alternatives they could take that do not harm the environment, sacrifice wildlife habitat, or add to stormwater runoff. If their plan was to put these panels on developed land to begin with, there would not have been this lengthy process and they would already have solar.
“It is important that Six Flags/KDC has agreed to stop the clear-cut of 66-acres of environmentally sensitive forest so we can have our day in Court. We needed this injunction to make sure we could challenge this environmental destructive proposal before they begin the clear-cut. While we support green energy, this proposal is a black eye for the environment. Instead of putting solar on already disturbed sites, like their parking lot, they are proposing to remove 16,000 trees that help protect endangered species and headwaters for two Category 1 streams. By approving this solar plan, it will destroy a forest, hurt water quality, and cause more flooding and run-off pollution,” said Jeff Tittel, Director, New Jersey Sierra Club. “This stay is a huge step to prevent Six Flags from clear-cutting for solar. We are glad they agreed to the injunction because they should not have been able to cut before the Court heard our case. That means we could have won the court case, but the forest would have already been destroyed.”
The proposed location for the solar farm is east of the safari park and sits on more than 66 acres which is mostly forested. The area includes environmentally sensitive areas like extensive wetlands and headwaters for two Category 1 (C1) streams, and steep slopes. These streams are tributaries of the Toms River. The site is also home to a nesting area for bald eagle in addition to other endangered species who find the area a retreat from heavily developed Jackson Township. By building a solar array on important headwater areas, it would destroy high-quality Category 1 streams.
“Even though Jackson has approved this plan, we are challenging their decision because the Planning Board ignored their own Conservation Zone. This area is clearly environmentally sensitive, contains threatened and endangered species, and protects water quality. We are concerned that since this property acts as a buffer, the runoff from the safari park will carry nutrient polluting water in the streams. It’s not just the runoff from the Safari Park, runoff would also come from the solar farm and eventually deposit in the Barnegat Bay. We should not be sacrificing clean water for solar projects. Removing these trees will also increase downstream flooding,” said Tittel.
After cutting thousands of trees, it could take more than 30-40 years to perform the same job. Another concern is the forest’s ability to combat air pollution and absorb climate change causing greenhouse gas emissions will be suspended until the new forest is returned. Six Flags should be placing solar on the hundreds of acres of parking lots and disturbed fields they own. We support solar panels but they should be reducing our carbon footprint, not adding to it. Clear-cutting this many trees will undo any of the good that could come from these panels. They should be placed instead on areas that are already developed, such as parking lots. While we don’t support this project, we do support solar power and think that Six Flags should move their solar arrays to a less environmentally-sensitive location. It is important to support solar because without it we will increase our impact on climate change and be dependent on fossil fuels.
“This stay is a partial victory because it helps stop this bad proposal from moving forward. Solar panels in parking lots help shade cars in the summer and will prevent clear cutting. They can also go on empty lots as well as on top of buildings. Six Flags needs to put solar on their parking lot, staging and ticket areas, existing buildings, or other disturbed areas. Instead of threatening environmentally sensitive land, Six Flags should have proposed this solar farm on disturbed sites,” said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “Instead of listening to the public, the Planning Board sold out the environment and violated their own rules to approve this project. Clear-cutting this many trees will ruin the environmentally sensitive forest, weaken water quality, and increase downstream flooding. That is why we need Six Flags to save paradise and put solar on the parking lot.”