Destruction Site – “Forbidden Pond”

“Forbidden Pond” – Wharton State Forest

110 07.11.14 site 078

Location: Waterford Township, just north of Chew Road on Sandy Causeway .16 miles

GPS location:   N 39.70705/ W 74.77822

Local name: Forbidden Pond

What is going on at this site: This is a beautiful vernal pool in a forested wetlands area of Wharton State Forest.  The perimeter of this pond has been used as a mudding track for 4 x 4s and ATVs.  It is also a party spot, lots of trash and beer cans, even a mattress.

What is there: Floating Heart (Nymphoides cordata) classified as RARE, FrogsFloating Heart and Toads at this location are: Fowler’s Toad, Pine Barrens Tree Frog, Northern Gray Tree Fog, Spring Peeper, NJ Chorus Frog, Bullfrog, Green Frog, Wood Frog, Southern Leopard Frog and Carpenter Frog – all of these frogs have been surveyed by the scientist of the NJ Pinelands Commission.

 

 

 

34 thoughts on “Destruction Site – “Forbidden Pond”

  1. feild of dreams is awarded a large sum of tax payer money…. and still expects a gate fee, day membership fee, track fee, and trail fee. use of their facility is over 100 dollars a day. i will stay on the wrong side of the law… its cheaper

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  2. Michael, thanks for your thoughtful comments. I think that there are readers on this blog who appreciate a constructive conversation, as do I. As I understand “public roads”, there are different road agencies who own, maintain, and manage public roads. The NJ Department of Transportation owns and manages state roads, the Counties in NJ own and manage County roads, and the Municipalities in NJ own and manage township roads. All of these road agencies have investments in road departments with personnel and equipment who are responsible for managing and maintaining their roads. In contrast, the NJ Department of Environmental Protection owns parks, forests, and wildlife management areas with lots of roads on them, most of which are not owned by any of the other road agencies in the state whose mission it is to manage roads. NJDEP’s mission is to protect the land and the environment, not specifically to manage roads. Consequently and historically, they do not have the budget, the focus, or the resources to keep up with the travel loads and the abuse that their roads receive from the motorized public who use them. The photo journalists that created this blog are photo documenting the extensive damage that has been caused by serial abuse of some of these NJDEP roads. The photographers and others who are concerned about and are reporting the message of the damage with the idea that it needs to be stopped and possibly restored as the end goal, are not the ones causing the damage. It is the drivers that are causing the extensive damage that are creating a division among the outdoor lovers. The unfortunate reality is that the current degree of enforcement/policing and or management/maintenance by NJDEP for the roads they own is not nearly enough to deter or decrease the rate at which these roads and places they pass through are being damaged. So, how do we, as responsible parties that do not want to see our public lands so badly damaged, fix this? This is what this conversation should be about. What are the options? NJDEP could classify their roads for different levels of use. NJDEP could close some unsustainable roads through wetlands and sensitive areas, either temporarily, or permanently. NJDEP could seek and obligate more state tax dollars to maintain and repair roads in high use upland areas, more like a road agency. Perhaps the sandy roads in Wharton State Forest could be managed like the sandy beaches at the shore with a permit program. I grew up in Brigantine and road my Jeepster on the beach back in the 60’s and 70’s. Today they still permit 4 wheel drive vehicles on the beach there but with a $175 permit, which I assume covers the cost of maintenance and enforcement to provide safety and protect the resource. Perhaps Commissioner Martin could wage a new no tolerance campaign like Commissioner Campbell did back in 2002 and publicize the problem through press releases and assign dollar values to all the damage of public lands to increase awareness and moral for land managers to be more proactive with enforcement and management and legislators to be more forthcoming with dollars to address the issues. Maybe there are better ideas for actions to take. But the damage is extensive and ongoing, and we need to stop it or at least slow it down. That is my end goal.

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  3. Fred, It sounds to me that you should be taking up the issue with whomever classifies the public roads. A public road is a public road and you’re complaining about a very specific group of people using public roads in a way and manner that you personally do not like. It’s your opinion on how these public roads should be used. You “feel” these publicly accessible roads should be used differently and perhaps should be “protected” and “limited” by vehicle type or weight limits.

    I’ve seen a few roads throughout the state with weight limitations but have not seen any roads limited by a specific classification of vehicle. Perhaps you could look throughout the state to see if any township or state maintained roads have legal limitations on vehicle type or usage. I’m not sure if you will find any roads like that however besides ones with weight limitations. I have seen signs within the pine barrens (usually over old bridges) that state a weight limitation and of course speed limits. I’m perfectly OK with that. However, it’s unclear how a road could be reclassified to ban people with a certain tire size or perhaps a penchant to litter or spin tires on wet roads. If some of these roads were made off-limits to the public then none of us would be able to enjoy the great Pine Barrens. I think your cause is noble however you should consider what exactly the end-goal would be other than to create a division among the outdoor lovers.

    If the goal is to reclassify a road then perhaps that’s the way to go. If it is to have the state or county police for illegal activity or unregistered vehicles then that’s another way.

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  4. The Pine Barrens and much of eastern South Jersey is in a soft sandy coastal plain that was under the ocean in geologic history. The sand roads through the Pine Barrens were created in the distant past during the horse and buggy days, and were never built for or intended for heavy motorized vehicles. Many of these sand roads were cut through wetlands and streams with no bridges or engineered measures to prevent damage and erosion by heavy motorized vehicles. Almost all of these sand roads are not maintained, they were not built to be maintained for heavy motorized vehicle use, and are therefore not maintainable. This is not any ones fault, but the reality is that repeated use of heavy motorized vehicles on these old sand roads is not sustainable. Just because these roads are there should not mean that they have been made available for unlimited legal use by every licensed driver in the state to do what every they want. These old sand roads through the Pine Barrens should be protected from damage and persevered for limited access only to the extent of vehicle type and traffic loads that they can handle.

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  5. I can only speak for myself and others that I know. We use our motor vehicles to legally access the public roads made available to us and other licensed drivers to access deeper and more pristine parts of the Pine Barrens so that we can enjoy this beautiful area in all of it’s glory. Unfortunately frequent travel of these roads require a 4 wheel drive vehicle (car to an extent but mainly a truck), or the use of a legally registered, plated, and licensed motorcycle. Very often I find these roads hard to travel through, especially after rain of any sort. The soil in some areas does not allow water to easily pass through, and muddy puddles form, which get harder and harder to pass through without more effort and some skillful driving. It’s not my fault that these public dirt roads are poorly maintained but perhaps you should contact your congressman about that rather than staging a web-protest with mixed and misleading “facts” (read: biased opinions).

    I am sure that many of the people on both sides of this issue use motor vehicles and have driven them down dirt roads, public and private. The majority of us do the best we can to keep any damage to a minimum but no matter what there will be erosion or other soil/plant damage. Nobody levitates their body over the trails leading to a turtle hunt or while taking pictures of flora or fauna, so some damage will always take place. I could just as easily vilify everyone for even stepping foot into a trail but I won’t.

    Also, some of the photos you are using are NOT of the Pine Barrens but are STOCK PHOTOS. This is very misleading since it paints a false picture by utilizing pictures that are not even from this area. Some of them are models riding ATV’s or dirt bikes even.

    It would be helpful to see some more truthful reporting on all of this with real, legitimate photos or video. Using fake photos and exaggerating to make a point just looks foolish and doesn’t convince anyone when you aren’t being entirely honest.

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  6. Mahcole – not everybody that goes into the woods has to go there to 4 wheel. Some may be on scouting trips for future hunting. Some may just like to get out in the woods. So WTF is your problem with people out in the woods? And odds are that you don’t even live in NJ so really have no right to voice an opinion since none of your tax dollars funds anything.

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  7. The idea that gravel pits are good places for any motorized recreation ignores the ecological facts and the existing land use regulations. Before resource extraction (mining) starts, the existing environmental values are usually high, and there are permit conditions that require the resource extractor to reclaim the site when the mining is finished. There are also rules that require the mining to be done in phases, such as 20 acres at a time. Once the first phase is done and the second phase starts, grading and tree planting start on the site of the first phase. Both local and state agencies have reclamation requirements where the end goal is to return the site to good environmental conditions when the mining is over, and motorized recreation is not compatible with reclamation. Meanwhile, the Pinelands has a “disturbance ecology”, where certain plants, animals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and insects adapted to the natural disturbance of fires and beavers killing trees and removing the forest tree canopy, creating what today is called “early successional habitat”. With the removal of beaver and the suppression of fire reducing the opportunity for these species to find early successional habitat, the tree removal at sand mining sites mimic natural disturbance and often attracts rare species to the reclaimed mining sites, making the mining sites far more valuable to the ecosystem than most people realize. Furthermore, all of the mining sites in the Pinelands Preservation and Forest Area zones were preexisting where new mining is not permitted under today’s rules, so they are considered a pre-existing non-conforming use and will eventually be phased out. Finally, just like mining, motorized recreation of all classifications is also not permitted in the Pinelands Preservation Area and Forest Area zones, so none of the mines in those areas would ever be eligible for motorized recreation anyway.

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  8. Fred Akers….. get your facts straight buddy…. everywhere you have mentioned was for ATV and dirtbike use…….. If youre gonna complain abiout 4×4 use , atleast use a valid complaint. Look at every other state with offroad parks. The damge is far less than what we have here. The ATVs arent even as much of a problem… they may tear up a sand road but for the most part, tehyre not in the swamps….. Who does this money get catered to???? ATVs!!!!!. It makes no sense at all…. Lookk at Murphys pit Look at Sarcos, Look at all teh gravel pits that have had every ounce of topsoil removed…. These would be perfect places

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  9. People who damage public lands with off road motor vehicles for a hobby need to be caught and prosecuted to the full extent of the law. The people who say that they will continue to damage public lands and the only way to stop them is to give them public lands to damage are extortionists as well as unlawful vandals. The failure of the Chatsworth ORV Park taught us two very important lessons. Lesson #1, legal places to ride have no direct connection to illegal riding and do not prevent it at all. Lesson #2, legal places to ride are financial losers because liability and maintenance are exorbitant, and riders do not want to pay to ride in legal places. The clear solutions to deter and prevent motorized damage to public lands are area closures, active law enforcement, and prosecution. NJDEP has opened the Mount Pleasant State Off-Road Vehicle Park at taxpayer expense to an ungrateful audience. Some of us lobbied NJDEP a number of years ago to allow the FHA Recreational Trail Grants mandatory minimum for motorized recreation to go to private interests on private property to reduce the sacrifice of more public lands while providing increased riding opportunities. As a result, the Recreational Trails Council has awarded $1,055,703 to the New Jersey Motorsports Park Field of Dreams which just recently opened. So if people want their motorized thrill without abusing sensitive public lands they can go there, but very few will. The extent of the damage to public lands illustrated on this site should inspire serious mandates by public land managers, law enforcement, and the courts to bring this rampant assault on our public lands under control.

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  10. what you witnessed at sahara sands was not an example of the off road community…… and your biased opinionated statements will get you just as far as disrespectful, ignorant ORV enthusiasts that call all of you tree hugging homosexuals….. i will tell you for one that i joined forces with Al and Russ years ago to try to come to a happy medium…. and i was far from the only one….. It did not work in the long run. But you have to look at how you approach these kinds of thing. If you chase people out of one spot, they will move to the next. Lets take 1/4 mile (aka “the scar”). Once that got shut down, all the people flocked to Atco powerlines and started going there….. so by closing one spot, more land got damaged. Its a never ending cycle. and quite frankly it always will be. Not everyone who’s into off road vehicles is a poor ole country bumpkin, some people have 10s of thousands into their off-road TOYS and can pay a hefty fine without effecting their way of life. ALMOST every other state in the country has ORV parks available, just as their drag strips for race cars, marinas for water craft. Golf Courses for golfers, soccer fields for kids….. but as soon as a ORV park gets mention , someone comes in and tries to stop it from happening in this state….. What kind of park do we get. One for ATVs which do a whole lot less damage than a jeep in a vernal pool… I for one know whats happens to a vernal pool when you break through the clay layer, i know what happens to water chemistry when you leak hydrocarbons in it, I know what happens to PH levels when you bring a vehicle covered in white clay mud into a water hole that’s in the black swamp mud….. I’m far from new to this whole game. But no matter what the goal is, people will continue to have their hobby. Its up to you where they want them to participate in it. In the sensitive grounds of a state forest, or in a old gravel pit that every tree and topsoil layer has already been torn out of? This is not directed to any one person, and im always free to discuss. 8568737528 is my cell number. If i don’t answer, leave a voicemail and I’ll call back. I will not fight with you, nor will I jump down your throat.

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  11. While I agree there could be some idiots leaving trash behind and being irresponsible, but my belief is it’s not the off-roaders that are doing it. I’ve seen them clean up after themselves often. People just need to bi..ch just to.have sh.t to complain about.

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  12. The people who use these trails, whether it be for hiking, mountain biking, equestrian or legal OHV use, are all members of the public. As you say, every weekend there’s one or more group of 4WD trucks and registered motorcycles using these trails, and dozens of families just going out in their pick-up or SUV to fish, canoe, kayak or just explore this great public land. Dare I point out that these users far outnumber those hiking on a regular basis. This is public land, and we are all members of the public. What gives you the privilege to decide what part of the public gets to enjoy public land?

    A case can be made that there are 4WD operators who disrespect the land, who operate in an illegal manner, who intentionally cause damage for in excess of reason. But these are not the typical off-road operator. The typical off-roader has as much love for the land and nature as any hiker. And, conversely, all hikers are not saints either. I’ve hiked the AT, Batona, and many other medium and long-distance trails in the northeast. On every one of them you can find trash, graffiti, cut-down trees, illegal fire pits and campsites, destruction. I’ve kayaked and canoed the Delaware, Mullica, Batsto, Rockaway and Raritan rivers, and have seen the same trash, graffiti and destruction. There are certain people who have no respect for anything and leave a path of destruction wherever they go. This is true no matter how they travel.

    And nobody comes from out-of-state or even travels great distances within the state to “destroy the Pine Barrens” or to dump trash. These are local residents, not out-of-towners, who cause the majority of the harm. Nobody, particularly not myself, is going to drive 2+ hour to visit a cesspool. But many of us, again including myself, clean-up the messes left behind by others. As I said before, OHV operators have a great appreciation for the environment. We just have a different way of getting around to enjoy it, in some cases, (such as my own), due to physical disabilities, in other cases because of the logistics of traveling with a young family.

    I understand that you don’t want to see the effect of off-road vehicle use in the areas you go to enjoy hiking, bird watching, or whatever pedestrian-based recreational activities you enjoy. But this country was not built on exclusion, it was built on inclusion. If you don’t want OHV use where you travel, then designate other areas for legal off-road use.

    There are over 440,000 acres of undeveloped public land in the state of NJ. Right now there’s a few hundred acres of unimproved roads, (legal, mapped roads, developed by our predecessors to support the villages and commerce that once flourished in the Pine Barrens). Why not designate a mere 1% if this public land to mixed-use OHV trails? That would provide OHV owners over 1,200 miles of trails within a 300 foot-wide buffer zone, and leave the other 99% of the land untouched by motor vehicles. Charge an annual OHV permit fee of $50-100 per vehicle, provided it went exclusively to maintenance of the trails and enforcement of regulations regarding off-road use. Distribute these trails throughout the state so OHV use isn’t concentrated in one area. 12 years ago the state promised it would set up three legal OHV areas; it has failed to honor it’s promise.

    If you want to reduce the impact of OHV use in the Pine Barrens you need to give the public legal alternatives. You can’t just take an Al Queda mentality and blindly punish everyone who doesn’t have the same recreational beliefs as you.

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  13. I can understand the thoughts behind the “anti offroading” crowd, but as an avid offroader, and a nature enthusiast, I suggest you look at the repercussions of your efforts. There are ways to protect public land, and there are ways to get public land shut down to everyone. The more responsible way of protecting our lands is by organizing clean ups and instilling the leave no trace principles. Not everyone that drives a 4wheel drive vehicle goes “mudding” or destroys property. The people you are referring to are hicks. There are plenty of responsible off road enthusiasts but you wouldn’t know we were ever there because we didn’t damage anything. You’re acting like the kid in school who gets the whole class in detention because a couple people did something wrong. All you end up doing is making people hate you.
    As others have mentioned as well, you should really not use photos you didn’t take yourself, or you may find yourself in a law suit of your own.
    respectfully, and in hopes that you pursue a more responsible action your self,
    JL

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  14. Why not document all the clean up work the 4×4 clubs do.

    More than just prop up a website to stop people from enjoying themselves that’s for sure!!

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  15. I’ll pay the ticket I receive for wheeling. It’s not very much. It’s like an admission fee to the amusement park you may or may not have to pay. And if you do get the ticket it’s a paid day off work to go to court. They set up a payment plan a few bucks a week and for the rest of the day I get to go wheeling in the pine Barron’s. Win win.

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  16. Do you guys have any real jobs? Or families to go home too? If you do work and do have families buy a big truck (ford preferred) get your kids and wife and go sink it in a mud hole. It’s fun. The trails and mid are seen as beautiful to as many people as those who see the tress and wildlife as beautiful. So what’s better then the combo, Pine Barron’s where you get to romp through a muddy trail with beautiful nature at bothe sides of you and deep mud ahead? No one is cutting down trees or destroying anything. Pull the stick out of your bums and go have a good time. Without a wall exceeding 4 foot in height all the way around the land…. It will get used! Not abused… Used. Used for fun harmless recreation!

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  17. Yes I agree it’s time to crackdown on the criminals like some on this site who post fake photos of fake damage (see reference to the photos taken from Honda’s website above), and also to crack down on those doing who knows what kind of damage while frog hunting on someones private land. Consider yourself lucky you did not get shot at for trespassing like you and your group of flat-earthers did while looking for frogs.

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  18. We have done the license plate number I.D. thing and won a case in court. Need more people to participate. The court will take necessary action if more people choose to file the complaints. Unfortunately many are intimidated.
    This road needs to go down, again, as long as it takes to get our public lands back to the public and out of the hands of people who apparently have very little regard for it aside from, say, picking up a little trash.

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  19. If you are within Sahara Sands then you are private property and are trespassing. Do you realize that? In addition, the owners of Sahara Sands hold a yearly motorcycle event there, on their private property, and they also sanctioned and approved any trails made through their private areas. This money all goes to good causes as well, raising money for those who need it within the town. What exactly are you doing there? You are trespassing on private property without a permit. Correct me if I am wrong.

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  20. This spring (6/3) we convened our annual frog walk at Sahara Sands on Jackson Road, a division of White Oak Branch WMA. We arrived and started parking out of the way at the main entrance around 6:45pm. Between 7:00pm and 7:30pm, 22 jeeps and trucks and 5 cars drove in and out of the entrance, some with cat calls and rude gestures. We walked into the site at 7:30pm and observed trees cut for new access roads since last year, decreased natural vegetation from mudding, and new ORV ruts in the sensitive vernal pond in the center of the site. When we returned to our cars around 9:00 pm, we found that some of our cars had been seriously damaged by large gravel that had been “roosted” at them. We filed complaints to the Monroe Police and NJDEP, and within about 3 weeks NJDEP had closed the site to motorized access because of the extensive damage and trash dumped on the site. This was the most appropriate solution to the problems caused by ORVs at this site, and the same solution should be applied to every ORV damaged location on state land. I have seen firsthand how aggressive and violent the motorheads can be, and I have seen personal property damage they have caused with great malice. I have also heard of a number of examples of personal injury they have inflicted with their machines. I learned years ago that the “few bad apples” theory is totally wrong, and that many motorheads are mean and aggressive, especially if they might get caught breaking the law. The often touted idea that off road riders are the true environmentalists is total B.S.(edit mine)in my experience, and the time is overdue for the general public to rise up and put these criminals and vandals off the publics land.

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  21. Seems to me the target of this effort is not the casual user but those with motor vehicles who are intentionally driving through swamps, bogs, climbing off road on what few hills and berms exist and leaving a path of destruction. (Oh yeah… and the a-holes who are dumping in the woods) These activities, quite simply, are illegal. The state has virtually no resources to repair these damaged areas. As a result, if I want to drive my vehicle through the Pine Barrens, I can’t because I’ll run into an area that has been made impassable by the mudding activities, etc. This not only impacts me, it impacts the Forest Fire Service and land managers who need to be able to also access key areas of the pinelands. The reality is that the Jeep jamborees bring large numbers at one time (often from other states), pay a small fee and then are responsible for no damage left behind. Beyond that it’s a relatively smaller number of off-roaders who are doing the bulk of the damage that we all have to contend with. The roads in the Pinelands are open to the public. They are intended to enable people to get from point A to point B; they were never intended for the masses with SUVs and Jeeps to challenge their skills at getting in and out of muddy wallows just for sport. The illegal activities highlighted here have made large areas of the Pinelands inaccessible to many, and that’s simply wrong.

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  22. I cant believe you are taking the outdoor community down this road again. Where is your frog lovin buddy Hogan? right up your back pocket I’m guessing. Not that I condone this damage to the “Forbidden Pond” or damage in general or dumping, but we didn’t learn our lessons from last time? Close one area and the bad apples move to another barrel. You need a new strategy, why don’t you get some pics of the trucks doing the damage? jot down some plate numbers and turn em in? No testicular fortitude I bet, just wana complain until the state does something like last time
    Good luck to you and your pal Mike.

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  23. this organization is bias, as stated by another reply… some of these roads ar 100 percent legal to drive and ride on… go ahead and insist the offroaders are the problem but heres the truth, we care more about that land than you and thats why we relationally use it in our free time… because we love it. dirtbikers are not dumping trash in the woods and you know it, the trash piles piss us off too but if efforts like this continue to point fingers we are all going down. lets work together to make it a cleaner, and safer place to RIDE. not a place tp forget about and place into the control of criminals and law enforcement. when you make the common man a criminal you become a scumbag lobbyist just like politician scum. sway your efforts to a more reachable and common goal.

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  24. The public land with public-access dirt trails have not significantly changed in the several decades that I have been around them. Any unmanaged public dirt road will deteriorate even with just basic usage. There are no new trails being razed through the woods so any damage is limited to the main dirt trails. Regarding trash and garbage, that’s a big issue all over the place not just in the pine barrens. From what I have seen in the thousands of miles throughout these areas, is that the contractors create the largest quantity of trash and materials. Dirt bikes, ATV’s, and ORVs are not leaving that much of a wake behind except for the partying that goes on with beer cans and fires. Even then I’ve never seen a dirt biker with a case of Miller Lite strapped to his bike.

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  25. Do you know what is also an issue? These “stock photos” you have taken from reputable company websites without approval. You’ve clearly stolen images from Honda Motorsports among other sites. If you want your rhetoric to be taken more seriously perhaps you should stop violating the law yourself.

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  26. Information on Wikipedia is contributed by anyone who wants to post material, and the expertise of the posters is not taken into consideration. Users may be reading information that is outdated or that has been posted by someone who is not an expert in the field or by someone who wishes to provide misinformation. Some information on Wikipedia may well be accurate, but because experts do not review the site’s entries, there is a considerable risk in relying on this source.

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  27. excuse me but what the hell are you going to do in the woods just out of curiousity?! walk around? no half of you idiots are uppies or don’t know any common sense to be in those woods. if you wanna take a picture or relax in the forest, go to park. your orginazation sucks balls, go find something else to do with your time rather than start a bunch of bullshit. AND IF YOU DON’T LIKE THIS POST THEN KISS MY MOTHER F…..G (MY EDIT) ASS AND GO LIVE IN A DIFFERENT STATE!!!!!!!!

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  28. You all are a bunch of tree hugging hippies. Lots of these photos have been taken on PUBLIC NAMED ROADS! It is 100% legal to drive on many roads in the pine barrens. Way to f..k (My edit) up a good thing you morons

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  29. Unfortunately this is a mirror image of many pine barrens locations. Not all off roaders or ATVers are bad many do respect the land and obey the laws but way to many do cause this kind of horrible damage to OUR public lands and we need to take it back !!

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  30. Hi Al. Thanks for doing this blog and bringing to light the terrible problem we have with irresponsible 4 wheelers. Let me know if you need any help with this project.

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  31. Sadly typical of serial ORV abuse. This is vandalism as defined by Wikipedia: “ruthless destruction or spoiling of anything beautiful or venerable.” The ruthless motorheads that do this damage are cruel, heartless criminals.

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