Confirmed by the NJ Conservation Foundation and reported yesterday by MercerMe, it appears that Mercer County granted permission to PennEast pipeline to conduct test boring drilling (the testing of soil/rock composition) on The Ted Stiles Preserve at Baldpate Mountain.
Owned by Mercer County, the State of New Jersey, Hopewell Township and Friends of Hopewell Valley Open Space (FoHVOS), The Ted Stiles Preserve on Baldpate Mountain is 1800 acres of preserved open space, with 12 miles of hiking trails along a ridge running from Fiddler Creed Road to Pleasant Valley Road and with up to a 400 foot elevation. Most of the land was acquired in 1998 and the area was renamed in 2007 to honor the late Ted Stiles, one of New Jersey’s most renowned and tireless environmental activists who passed away that same year.
While the County may have given permission to PennEast, the other owners of the property would prefer a different outcome.
Patricia Sziber, Executive Director of Friends of Hopewell Valley Open Space had this to say, “Friends of Hopewell Valley Open Space is opposed to the PennEast pipeline and, had we been asked as one of the owners, we would have denied permission to survey or drill on Baldpate Mountain. We do not want a pipeline anywhere on the mountain, so why should we allow PennEast to drill into the rock to find the best place to put it? We worked long and hard to preserve habitat for the exceptional assemblage of rare plants and animals on Baldpate. Construction and maintenance of a pipeline would diminish the quality and extent of that habitat. There is no way it could be repaired or mitigated.”
And Hopewell Township takes a similar stand. “I plan on introducing a resolution, at our up-coming township committee meeting on Monday, July 27, opposing all PennEast drilling or surveying activity at the Ted Stiles Preserve on Baldpate Mountain and demanding that the county rescind its permission to do so,” said Hopewell Township mayor, Harvey Lester.
Whether or not this will be discussed at the Mercer County Freeholders meeting tonight, July 21st, remains to be seen. The public is welcome and encouraged to attend – 6pm McDade Administration Building, 640 South Broad Street, Room 211, Trenton.