Let Us Reclaim Our Forest
A peaceful use proposal
Let us follow the lead of our state Wildlife Management Areas (WMA) by forbidding off-roading events in all of our state public lands. Let’s allow our hunters, fisherman, birders and hikers to not be subjected to off-roading events in our State Forest exactly the same pleasure they can enjoy in our WMA. They are all the same people or like in kind. And, after all, the WMAs are all part of the DEP, the same folks who manage our State Forest. There is not difference between that State Forest lands and the WMA land – they are forest and streams and meadows. State land is enjoyed by not only the groups mentioned above by but by kayakers, canoeists, equestrians, and botanist and many other people, too many to mention.
Many of our WMAs and State Forests fall within the Pinelands National Reserve and come under the Comprehensive Management Plan (CMP) of the Pinelands. There is nothing in the CMP that requires use of our Pinelands by off-roading events. In fact the Pinelands Commission recently, unanimously, approved the use of a map to control motor vehicle use in Wharton State Forest. The beginning of a trend to control the use of motor vehicles in all of our State Forests that fall under the Pinelands Comprehensive Management Plan. The plan for the Pinelands only has to be implemented by the DEP.
We all have the responsibility to protect and watch over our public lands because they belong to all of us. No one has the right to cut their own trails throughout the forest, but the dirt bike/enduro community has done just that. The have cut 1000’s of miles of unauthorized trials (known as single tract trails) throughout the entire Pinelands region. These trails are used in their enduro races and are supposed to be a difficult challenge to the riders. They have not been able to use them during their authorized events but they still do by going off the purposed route onto their own trails. Now this community is starting to pressure the DEP into using them again. What is that about?????? Right now there is a plan underway by the enduro clubs and the DEP to allow the use of these illegal trails in some future enduro events. They have taken over 3000 acres of land and designated it “potential non-critical” lands, and it is cut though and though with single track trails, in Brendan Bryne State Forest. They, the DEP and the clubs, feel it is non-critical because nothing has been reported in these sections that have to do with threatened and endangered species of flora and fauna. Well, back a few months ago a group of 25 concerned citizens surveyed the area and found four nests of the threatened North Pine Snake and one very large pregnant female Pine Snake. All of this within feet of single track trails. We have many examples of destroyed habitat and killed endangered species along these trails as a result of the motor bike activity that goes on there day after day, year after year.
All off road events cause chaos in our Pinelands regardless of what the various groups profess. Here are just some of the issues:
- Off road event create a culture of destruction. Their machines are made to “conquer” land whether it be sand, mud or water, the more obstacles the better.
- These events aren’t “one and done”. The participants of these events come back day after day and year after year and run these same trails. If there are 300 participates in an enduro event and only ½ of them come back to run the trails that is 150 people not be monitored doing whatever they wish to the habitat.
- These events are noisy and disturb the forest quiet
- Off-road events disturb and kill wildlife, some of which are endangered.
- They disturb and isolate habitat.
- These events cause erosion with repeated use of the trails and sand roads.
- Dirt bikes abuse fire cuts (push lines)
- Dirt bikers have suffered serious injury, even death, during and after sanctioned events.
- Hundreds of dirt bikes in a one or two day enduro event cause enormous amount of erosion.
- Hundreds of 4 x 4 jeep type vehicles riding events in the Pinelands are destroying delicate habitat, devastating our delicate sand road system, create mud wallows from repeated intrusion into the mud holes in wet land areas.
- They leave behind an inordinate amount of household type trash, bottles and cans, and even old clothing and shoes.
- All the other users of the forest have to give way to these groups and wait till they all pass, all the while creating noise that people went there to escape.
- With all the destruction and refuse left behind there is no performance bond required to be submitted to this events.
- These events tie up township resources before during and after the events.
- Off-roading events do absolutely NOTHING to help preserve and protect our forest!
Let’s look at the blight of the typical hunter trying to enjoy his/her sport (you can substitute any sport you like for that matter). Hunters have large investments in their sport, clothing, equipment and fees.
Not unlike other peoples and their hobbies, including the off-road community. Hunters only have a short time to use our WMAs and SFs depending what form of hunting they do because it is controlled by hunting seasons and is not available all year around to them. If you are a bow hunter your sport is bases and quiet and stealth. So imagine sitting in your tree stand for most of the day and at the a critical time for game movement six dirt bikes come roaring down a fire cut you are on or down a single track you did not know was there.
You may as well that your $200 tree stand out of the location and just go home .Fire arms hunters have even a shorter period to hunt than bow hunters, they get 6 days in December. Many hunters schedule vacation time during their preferred hunting period and it can be scrapped because of loud noise, dust and excessive speed in the woods.
WMAs and State Forest are practically funded by hunting and fishing fees and excise taxes placed on some of their equipment that goes into a national pot. These areas are not funded by motor vehicles fees from Jeeps and dirt bikes. These lands were purchased to preserve and enjoy not making them into muddy, noisy, dusty motorsport arenas.
Let’s take back our forest and turn them to the peaceful, joyful, quiet places they were meant to be. Please not more mud holes, no erosion, no noise, no more ugliness, no more destroyed paleo hills and ice age gravel deposit hills. Let’s vote for beautiful wetlands, quiet forest, and abundant wildlife.
Everyone can enjoy our forest if they suppress the noise, stay out of mud wallows and lowlands, observe the 20 MPH speed limit, stay off push lines and fire cuts and illegal single tracks, and get permits for over 20 people in any type of group.
We need your help! Contact the DEP and the Pinelands Commission and tell them what our forest should look and sound like as opposed to a motorsports arena
Albert D. Horner
Medford Lakes, NJ