Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Franklin Parker

A New Jersey conservationist died last week:

Parker chaired the 15-member Pinelands board from 1979 to 1988, a period when the regional land-use and environmental commission was often on the defensive. In 1978, Congress designated 1.1 million acres in southern New Jersey as the Pinelands National Reserve, setting the stage for a hybrid preservation plan that enabled some national park-like protections over a landscape that was largely in private ownership.

In the following year, Byrne imposed a building moratorium to block large development plans for the forest and spur the state Legislature into passing the Pinelands Protection Act of 1979. The Byrne administration recruited Parker, a Mendham lawyer who in the 1960s helped neighbors battle plans for a new metropolitan jetport on what later became the Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge.

In its early years, the Pinelands Commission met with a parade of angry landowners, farmers, business and political leaders who were furious at what they saw as an usurpation of private property rights. Beginning in 1981, Parker and then-executive director Terence D. Moore administered a regional management plan that strictly limited new construction and created regional zoning, with a core "preservation area" of forest and remote cranberry and blueberry farms.
Several years ago the New Jersey Conservation Foundation named its new preserve near Chatsworth in honor of Parker.