Barren Wasteland

Jul 26, 2017

To the Editor:

There was a recent erroneous decision by the state Department of Environmental Protection that horrified and stunned hundreds of people. This involves a recreational area within the Wharton Tract identified as Harrisville Lake on Route 679. The regional headquarters of the Wharton Tract at Batsto village made a decision that has ruined this site that has been used by countless families for decades.

I myself have enjoyed many happy days since 1980 relaxing by the lake, reading and swimming while watching families with children doing the same. People have always respected the site, and leave it as clean and undisturbed as they found it.

Within the last month, the DEP (probably the local superintendent at Batsto) ordered just about all the trees along the lake front to be cut down, leaving this beautiful site looking barren and destroyed. It was reported by the workmen (many being state employees) that the decision for this was kept silent from the public and they themselves (many being local residents) did not know they had to perform this disgraceful task until the day of the work. As a result, it has left the multitudes of people who enjoyed the lake saddened and heartbroken over the devastation.

Since the 1970s, as a young adult, I have enjoyed and respected the natural beauty of the state through the park system, especially the southern New Jersey Pine Barrens. This region has been a wonderful source of recreational activities for decades. Families have safely used the many campsites and lakes for swimming, camping, picnicking, etc. It’s an area of pristine beauty, and the peace and solitude of the region is to be enjoyed and protected.

On Father’s Day I drove past the site. In the past there normally would be dozens of people there with happy children swimming in the lake, kayaks placidly paddling by and adults enjoying a picnic with family and friends. What I saw was a desolate barren wasteland with nothing but tree stumps and debris. Not a single person or kayak was there. Those people are now gone, mourning the loss of this once gem of natural beauty, and all they have left are the memories of past years of enjoyment.

I am a lifelong resident of New Jersey, pursued my career here, recently retired,and have chosen to remain in the state. What has taken place at Harrisville Lake saddens me deeply and has eliminated for many people future days by its lakeside. I only speak for myself and a small but growing group of friends, but I’m certain my feelings reflect the same as hundreds of other people.

Mark Kryza

Glassboro, N.J.

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