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Sierra Club opposes land swap between state and Jackson gun club

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JACKSON – The New Jersey Sierra Club has submitted comments to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) opposing the agency’s proposed land swap with the Central Jersey Rifle and Pistol Club, South Stump Tavern Road, Jackson.

The proposal is to transfer 43 acres the DEP owns in Jackson in exchange for 87 acres the Central Jersey Rifle and Pistol Club owns in Upper Freehold Township, according to a press release issued by the Sierra Club on April 23.

“This is a bad deal for New Jersey and open space. The state is giving away land to the rifle club that (the club) has already polluted in exchange for a less valuable property,” Jeff Tittel, the director of the New Jersey Sierra Club, was quoted as saying in the press release.

The property owned by the Central Jersey Rifle and Pistol Club in Upper Freehold Township and proposed for conveyance to the DEP is next to the Pleasant Run Wildlife Management Area. The land was purchased by the club in February 2019 for $246,086, according to the press release.

According to the Proposed Land Exchange Report, the Central Jersey Rifle and Pistol Club’s land in Upper Freehold Township is valued at $2,652 per acre, while the DEP’s land in Jackson is valued at $3,500 per acre, the Sierra Club said.

The DEP’s property in Jackson is currently part of the Colliers Mills Wildlife Management Area.

The Sierra Club said that according to the DEP, a portion of the property in Jackson has been polluted by the accumulation of lead discharge at an adjacent shooting range operated by the Central Jersey Rifle and Pistol Club.

The proposed land exchange would include creating a buffer between the Colliers Mills Wildlife Management Area and the shooting range to ensure the safety of the public, the Sierra Club said.

“We don’t believe the land the gun club is offering the state (in Upper Freehold Township) is of greater or equal value (to the land the club would receive in Jackson).

“There is nothing wrong with doing land swaps when it makes sense. … Instead of doing a land swap with this private gun club for land that is less valuable, the DEP should make them clean up their pollution,” Tittel said.

In its comments to the DEP regarding the matter, the Sierra Club said, “The proposed land swap would also give the Central Jersey Rifle and Pistol Club the road leading to the club, so the public will lose access to that part of the Colliers Mills Wildlife Management Area.”

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