Pinelands pipeline

•eeds to be approved

One year ago, the New Jersey Pinelands Commission voted 7-7 regarding the construction of the South Jersey Gas pipeline project.

The natural gas pipeline was proposed to provide 142,000 South Jersey Gas customers in Atlantic and Cape May counties with an emergency supply of gas in the event of a service outage - an essential backup that does not exist today. The pipeline would also provide the B.L. England electric generation plant with clean natural gas for an anticipated conversion from coal. The planned route will run almost exclusively within existing rights-of-way below and alongside Routes 49 and 50.

I have spent a lifetime protecting the Pinelands. I was a member of the Pinelands Commission for 27 years. I support this project and want to know where it stands.

If the pipeline isn't built, B.L. England's lost energy will need to be replaced, resulting in the construction of new electric transmission lines stretching across large swaths of protected areas. These lines will not be buried safely in the shoulder of a highway but hung on 100-foot tall towers.

A year has passed, and South Jersey residents are still without a reliable backup supply of natural gas. The B.L. England plant still needs natural gas or it will be required to shut down. The needs for reliable electric and gas service to all residents of the Pinelands and the adjacent coastal areas remain the same.

South Jersey Gas should reapply to the Pinelands Commission for approval of the pipeline. This project needs to move forward.



Hunting proposals

are safe and fair

Regarding the Jan. 16 editorial, "Hunting in New Jersey/Two bad ideas," about a bill that would allow young hunters to get an apprentice license without taking a safety test and another that would allow Sunday hunting with firearms:

I know that Pennsylvania has had a similar program for children under 12 in place since 2006. Likewise, Delaware has a similar program in place but does require training. I have never heard of a child-hunter accident under these programs.

The Sierra Club's Jeff Tittel, who called the apprentice-license legislation the "Shoot first, train later" bill, heads an organization known for its luke-warm support, at best, of hunting. Hunting safety is not his area of expertise.

The purchase of all public hunting lands was originally funded entirely through the sale of hunting and fishing licenses. Since the advent of the Green Acres program, funding from license fees now stands at 50 percent. The operation of the Wildlife Management Areas continues to be funded by hunting and fishing license fees.

The potential danger to birders and hikers is probably the seven-day firearms season for deer. Allowing Sunday deer hunting with firearms would increase this "danger" period by one day. This seems reasonable in light of the hunters' support for the WMAs, which are available to the general population year-round.

Without the proposed change, New Jersey will remain one of only 11 states that do not allow Sunday hunting.


Cape May Point

Hunting knowledge

begins at early age

Regarding the Jan. 16 editorial, "Hunting in New Jersey/Two bad ideas":

As a lifelong resident of South Jersey, I have had the privilege to hunt and fish the glorious wild areas of our state. This process began legally when I was 10 years old with my dad's purchase of a juvenile license for me. Actually, that appreciation for all things outdoors began much sooner, as I accompanied dad and grandpop, without gun or pole, long before that.

What I feel most people, including The Press, fail to realize is that outdoor pursuits, especially hunting, evolve with a great deal of supervision long before someone takes a state-mandated safety test. Gun safety, respect for property, habitat preservation, boat handling, legal limits and a true respect for nature begin long before going out on one's own.

In my day, age 14 was the year we were required to take the hunting course to be able to pursue game alone. I was well aware of everything discussed and tested at that age. What a great day. With a gun strapped to my Stingray bike and a back pack, my friends and I enjoyed many life-enriching experiences while being trusted with our new freedom. Respect for the law and the environment became our obligation.

Perhaps we should not jump to such alarmist conclusions as Jeff Tittel of the Sierra Club did ("shoot first, train later") or the assumption that Sunday hunting is dangerous to others who occupy our wonderful ecosystem.

Much of our preserved land and habitat has been purchased by the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife with licensing fees and sporting taxes. The first basic tenet of firearm safety is "treat every gun as if it's loaded," and the second is "be sure of your target and beyond."

I am confident that young hunters and Sunday hunters will act as they always have - responsibly, safely and respectfully if these bills are passed.



We're all in it together

- merge pension funds

The Dec. 29 editorial, "Local and county pensions/Hands off," was very enlightening because I was one of those who thought all the government employees were in one pension fund. But if merging the pension systems would help to alleviate the financial imbalance, I am inclined to agree with it.

Past governors used the pension funds as a slush fund for their own political agendas, and it was never returned. Former Gov. Christie Whitman was the chief thief.

Also, I would urge all concerned parties to consider this factor. Retired and working state employees who own property in New Jersey pay local property taxes. Millions of dollars of this tax money goes to the public-employee pension systems. Therefore, we are already in this thing together. So merge the pension money into one fund.