President's Corner
Sharyn Magee

Comments on PennEast’s Draft FERC Resource Report 3

Washington Crossing Audubon Society (WCAS) found a number of misstatements, omissions and a serious misquote in PennEast’s Draft FERC Resource Report 3 (Fisheries, Wildlife, etc.). The Ted Stiles Nature Preserve at Baldpate Mountain is 1,500 acres with 1,480 acres of contiguous forest, not the 9,946 acres quoted in the draft, and is in the Piedmont, not the mid-Atlantic coastal plain. The proposed PennEast pipeline, which would parallel the current power line right-of-way, would make a larger negative impact on a 1,500 acre preserve than on a 9,946 acres one. The report should be corrected to include the correct size and location of The Ted Stiles Nature Preserve at Baldpate Mountain.

The PennEast report alters a quote from New Jersey Audubon’s website and their Important Bird Area (IBA) Guide to downplay the significance of Baldpate Mountain to breeding and migrating birds. The original “This site supports an exceptional diversity of breeding landbirds” is changed to “This site supports a wide variety of breeding landbirds” and the original “significant stopover habitat for migratory birds” is changed to “stopover habitat for migratory birds”. We request that the quote be corrected in the FERC Resource Report 3 (Fisheries, Wildlife, etc.). WCAS’s Scoping Period statement verifies the exceptional diversity and number of breeding landbirds and migratory birds using Baldpate Mountain. WCAS’s statement summarizes the data from two breeding bird studies and eBird. A total of 168 species have been reported to eBird at Baldpate; sixty-one of these are ABC species of conservation concern that use Baldpate for breeding, a migratory stop or as part of a resident territory. The New Jersey threatened Long-eared Owl has winter roosts at Baldpate Mountain. The New Jersey threatened Barred Owl was reported at Baldpate in 2013 and 2014. WCAS contacted several observers making the Barred Owl reports and confirmed that the Barred Owl was heard in the area threatened by the PennEast pipeline. Both the bird breeding studies results and the eBird data were omitted from the FERC Resource Report 3. A report of Northern Copperhead on Baldpate was also omitted.

The USFWS guidelines state that the pipeline routes should “avoid permanent habitat alterations in areas where birds are highly concentrated” and include Audubon Important Bird Areas (IBA’s) in the examples. The guidelines also state that “To conserve area-sensitive species, avoid fragmenting large, contiguous tracts of wildlife habitat, especially if habitat cannot be fully restored after construction.” Since breeding land birds are highly concentrated at Baldpate Mountain, many of these species are area sensitive, and the habitat cannot be fully restored after construction, building the PennEast pipeline through Baldpate Mountain clearly violates the USFWS guidelines. The PennEast pipeline should not be built through Baldpate Mountain.

Sharyn Magee
President WCAS

View other President's Messages from Sharyn:

  1. Connections - Baldpate Mountain
  2. The Silent Crisis
  3. Protect Preserved Land
  4. Comments on PennEast's Draft FERC Resource Report 3
  5. Citizen Science
  6. PennEast Pipeline Proposal — A BAD IDEA!

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Last revision: Monday, August 29, 2016