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Use of Rainforest Wood Draws Opposition in Toms River

Toms River Council members give the green light to a multi-million dollar appropriation for storm-related capital improvements last night. 

Sandy damage in Ortley Beach
Sandy damage in Ortley Beach (Township of Toms River)

However, it wasn’t the $38 million dollar bond ordinance that drew opposition but the planned use of a Brazilian rainforest wood for boardwalk repairs.

As part of the capital improvements, about a million dollars is going toward repairs to the Ortley Beach boardwalk. However, opposition is being voiced about the use of Arapa wood. Tom Maheny of Rainforest Relief says “every time that we’re purchasing this wood we’re destroying a community in Brazil.”

However, Township Engineer Bob Chankalian says the company they selected through a competitive bidding process has documents guaranteeing that the wood they’re using was collected in a sustainable way. “it talks about the chain of custody of where this wood was from where it was grown and how it was handled and provided to our importer.”

However, Maheny says there’s really no way to confirm that information unless someone goes to Brazil. Maheny is calling on Toms River to use other options like the use of the synthetic wood Trex being used in Belmar.

The bond money will also go toward capital improvements such as destroyed public structures, roads, utilities and bulkheads.

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