JACKSON (AP) — Environmentalists are upset about Six Flag Great Adventure's plan to cut down 19,000 trees to build a solar farm.

Main entrance to Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson (Dan Alexander, Townsquare Media NJ)

Opponents staged an Earth Day hike Wednesday near the site where the Jackson park wants to build the 90-acre solar farm. They say it would destroy the ecosystem of the woodlands. Emile Dr. Vito, manager of science with the New Jersey Conservation Foundation, says "clear-cutting the forest would also lead to sediment erosion that would pollute two adjoining Category One streams – one of the highest levels of protection the state grants,”

Former Gov. Jim Florio says it would be a massive mistake."The reputational risk for the company is very high," Florio told the Asbury Park Press."The whole idea of a company that caters to young children doing the things that they're doing is something that will not resonate well with young people."

Opponents say Six Flags should build the solar farm in a parking lot instead.“We strongly support solar power. This could be a landmark example of a solar success story by using the park’s mammoth parking lots," said said Doug O’Malley, director of Environment New Jersey in a statement on the group's website. "Instead it’s a tale of a company choosing to chop down 90 acres of forest when they don’t need to. This is Great Adventure’s great green mistake.” 

The Asbury Park Press reports Six Flags Great Adventure President John Fitzgerald says they can't build in the parking lots due to safety concerns and space limits.

Fitzgerald says the plan involves planting more than 25,000 trees and would generate enough electricity to meet virtually all of the theme park's power needs.

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