About Albert Horner

Fine art landscape photographer with special emphasis on the New Jersey Pine Barrens

Destruction Sites – “1/4 Mile” An Expanded View

1/4 Mile” An Expanded View 3.4 miles, as the crow flies, from Route 206 In Shamong Township, NJ, near Hampton Furnace, in Wharton State Forest, is an infamous place called “1/4 Mile”. So named by the off-road vehicle crowd who made it what it is so I suppose they have the right to name it.

I first located “1/4 Mile” 5 years ago while searching Google Earth for areas that may have photographic potential. When I finally got to the area, now named “1/4 Mile”, it had taken over 8 months because of poor winter weather and an extremely wet spring and badly flooded roads. When I did get there my jaw dropped from disbelief at what was before me. I was looking at the most heinous land destruction I had ever seen in the many decades that I had been traveling the sand roads of New Jersey’s Pine Barrens. My first vision was of rutted roads that were nothing but mud and enormous water holes large enough to swallow a large truck.

My high minded aspirations of photographing the area quickly gave way to just pure anger! Here is a synopsis of what I was looking at:

  • Vernal pools, the breeding grounds for amphibians in the NJ Pine Barrens run through and over with 4×4 trucks, ATVs and dirt bikes as if they were mall parking lots. Here is what a vernal pools is suppose to look like:
  • Bonfire sites in many locations, many still smoldering, all the while there is a ban on fire in the forest.
  • Trees axed down to fuel those fires that were burning.
  • Liter comprised of mostly beer cans and bottles, household trash, oil cans, clothing and children’s toys (yes, this a family location for fun that is cheaper than going to Disney World).
  • At one location there was a 13’ to 15’ fiberglass boat that was dragged out there who knows how? – it was eventually set ablaze within the next couple of weeks

This was a pristine Pineland area reduced to a motorsports mudding tracking abused day and night by literally hundreds of off-road vehicles of every type. Here is a list of endangered plants that exist, or did exist, in the area:

Long’s Wool-grass A characteristic Pine Barrens plant. The NJ Pine Barrens is one of the global strongholds. A single plant found next to a denuded area with tire ruts. Possibly a remnant of a formerly significant population.
Hirst Brothers’ Panic-grass Known to be extant in only three states. A candidate for federal protection. In NJ, known from Atlantic County since 1959, but only a few plants have been found in recent years. New population discovered in Burlington County in Wharton State Forest in 2003, within a few hundred yards of active off road vehicle traffic at The Scar.
Crested Yellow Orchid A characteristic Pine Barrens plant. Known from the general vicinity and likely to have been there before the habitat was destroyed.
Yellow Fringed Orchid Best populations in NJ are in wetlands of the Pine Barrens. Known from the general vicinity and likely to have been there before the habitat was destroyed.

There are quite a few other species of flora that have been destroyed in the area.

Vernal pools exist because of a layer of clay that holds the water in shallow pools and these pools are a breeding ground for many amphibians because the pools evaporate in the summer and no fish live there to eat the eggs laid by the amphibians.  The clay layer at these vernal pools has been destroyed to never be re-created.

The mud that makes up a large portion of the ¼ Mile has a rancid smell to it, a mixture of Pine Barrens swamp mud, oil, gasoline, transmission fluids and whatever garbage was dump near-by.

After viewing this environmental disaster I wrote my first blog, out of pure anger, and it was called “The Scar” because this was certainly a SCAR on the Pinelands. I did videos on YouTube as well.  I had to give up the blog after about a year and a half because of the threats made to me.  Here are some of the emails I received:

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bnunes50 has made a comment on Destruction at the Scar:

hey fag public land is for the PUBLIC not just the hippie tree loving scum.

do us all a favor-

  1. eat a bowl of dicks
  2. drink bleach
  3. wash your mouth out with buckshot
  4. get a girlfriend, or a hobby and stop getting in other peoples business

feel free to send me your address if anything i have said has offended you, (i hope it has) and we can have a face to face “chat”

You can reply to this comment by visiting the comments page.

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sowawoodenboats has replied to your comment on Cherokees wheelin at Wharton

Your 2wd hybrid was never meant to drive back into these woods. Its funny that people have been wheeing in these woods for so long and now you people are starting arguments, why are you so unhappy that you have to ruin someone elses form of enjoyment, please MIND YOUR OWN BUISNESS there are only several spots i can think of that have been “changed by four wheelers the pine barrens are vast theres space there for you and me!!!!

You can reply back by visiting the comments page.

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MrFreak0naleash has replied to your comment on Cherokees wheelin at Wharton:

@hornerad2 U know what, if I ever met you I’d fuckin shoot you with my 12 guage and throw u in the woods. Go fuck yourself loser. This isn’t ruining anything dirt isn’t alive.

This is only a small faction of emails I received but that was enough for me.  You want to answer these people but for what purpose????  I took down the blog (here I am doing it again though).

This area was used annually by a group called Jeep Jamboree up to 2013 (videos verify this).  A California based company, Jeep Jamboree, charges a fee for people to join them on off-road “adventures”, something like $500 for a family (great family fun destroying an ecosystem). These events are offered to Jeep owners and their NJ Pine Barrens Run attracted 50 to 70 jeeps with their owners and families.  Can you image 50 to 70 jeeps running through a highly sensitive area of the Pine Barrens over a weekend of activities???? Jeep Jamboree has helped destroy our Pinelands and has never offered, to the best of my knowledge, any reparations.  They take their profits back to California, profits I estimate to be $20,000.00 just for the Pine Barrens event.  Not a bad gig with no responsibility.

So What Has Happened Since My First Discovery of “1/4 Mile”

I blogged, the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Press of Atlantic City wrote wonderful articles, The Newark Star Ledger did a video post that was great, too, and NJN News did a very thorough report about what was going on.  Still nothing happened to stop the carnage!!!

A couple of years later a volunteer group posted the area advising No Motorized Vehicles permitted.  All of the entrance roads to “1/4 Mile” were clearly posted.  Within days most of the signs were torn down.  Everything was reposted and the Park Police, the law enforcement group responsible for the state parks of New Jersey, started to issue summons to the people exiting the area past the No Motorized Vehicles signs. Now there are a bunch of laws to prevent the destruction of our public lands but the Park Police would not summons anyone unless the area was clearly posted (go figure).

Traffic started to slow, but not stop completely.  This was their area and they were not going to give it up easily.

More recently the area was posted on the outside entrance roads and the interior of it, and the traffic slowed even more.  A lot of the signs were torn down, as they always are, but the message seems to have gotten out for the most part. If you walk back to the area now, about  1 mile from High Crossing along the road on the southern side of the abandon Central Jersey R.R. tracks you will still see some tracks from 4×4, ATV and dirt bikes, but much less than the past.

Where Have All The Off-Roaders Gone? That is not such a hard question to answer.  The have major money involved in their vehicles and, remember, this is their true love for leisure time (they will even tell you they are conservationist).  All over the place is the best answer.  There are hundreds of places they have violated so they can move on to anyone of them and just extend the area that they have previous played in.  Here are a few places that they retreated to:

An area along Sandy Causeway in Waterford Township in the western edge of Wharton State Forest, I called it “Little ¼ Mile” when I first saw it.  A wonderful little vernal pool that is now a mud pit.  Fortunately they area has been block off, twice, by concerned volunteers.

Little 1/4 Mile

Little 1/4 Mile

Another area, that I think is been being used for some time now, was recently pointed out to me by a concerned citizen who is appalled by what he had seen. Greenwood Wildlife Management Area (WMA) is being overrun with off-road vehicles making a mudding area out of a pristine piece of Pinelands.  This area is huge, probably 500 acres. The off-roaders have completely destroyed an “I” beam gate to get to an area that I suspect was a grassland dedicated to quail hunting (hunters have paid, through their license fees, for this type of area, if your favorite trail was overrun by these vehicles you could empathize with the hunters even though you may not agree with hunting).  Also in Greenwood is a staging area just off of Route 72 where the liter is so thick you would swear it was a trash dump.  I have found trailers parked there from Pennsylvania, twice, with unlicensed ATVs and dirt bikes on them. On one occasion I stopped an ATV operator, who was with his young children, also on their own ATVs, and asked if he know it was illegal to operate his ATV on public lands in NJ.  He looked me right in the eyes and said “yes, so what” and sped on his way.  This staging area is set up to ride to an area called Lost Lakes.  Lost Lakes has been around for years as a partying area and off-road vehicle hang.  But it was heavily posted once and the traffic was really curtailed.  You would not know that now.  The place is an ATV and 4×4 haven.

The Aftermath of “1/4 Mile”

This past March a biologist and I hiked back to ¼ Mile to see what was going on.  Believe me there was plenty to observe!

We had a rainy end of winter and a wet beginning of spring in our area.  The Pinelands were drenched in water.  Normally the sandy soil just soaks up the water and runs into the aquifer, not the case this year.  The water sat on the surface for a very long time because it had nowhere to go.  Here is some of what we found:

  • Compacted soils that the water just runs off. Nothing will grow in this soil for decades to come.
  • The roadways at ¼ Mile were challenging to walk because they were so full of water and mud. We spent most of our time walking in the dense woods parallel to the roadways.
  • Some of the water holes are have now inched into the aquifer because they are below grade in wetlands areas.
  • All of the waterholes/mud holes in roadways were now connected and formed a sort of stream. Water was running everywhere, I thought we could go trout fishing in them. Well, there were no trout but we did see three fish fry (not the first time I have seen this in one of these mud wallows) in the pools and one hole had a 4” pickerel in it. Based on that these pools have been around for some time since they are not connect to any native stream. Of course, an off-road aficionado would tell it is part of their conservation program.
  • All of the connected water holes/mud wallows had streams running from one to the other and they were all running into the Batsto River watershed area, which was less than ½ mile away. The Batsto River is one of the purist streams is in the Pine Barrens and now it was receiving thousands of gallons of water laden with gasoline, motor and transmission fluid, and who would guess what else. This is the destiny of all the areas that are over run by off-road vehicles enjoying a day of fun. Well the question is at whose expense?

Opinion

First and foremost we need to stop this destruction of our public lands. Thousands of acres of pristine Pinelands are being destroyed before our very eyes.  Access road to the Pinelands are so abused they are no longer useable by the general public unless they have a monster 4×4 vehicle. I don’t know about you but I don’t think I should have to have one of those type of trucks to visit the place I have paid taxes to preserve. As a result of the road destruction by these off-roaders there are now tens of thousands of acres of Pinelands that are no longer accessible to the general public.

How do you stop all of this – GET ANGRY!!!!   GET ANGRY AS HELL!!!!

Demand that the federal, state and local laws that govern the public lands and our Pinelands National Reserve be enforced.  The laws are already in place they are just not being enforced! Please speak out to anyone who will listen.

Destruction Sites – “A Larger View”

“A Larger View” – Much of the Northern Pinelands National Reserve

About this blog: After my last post I thought it best to take a larger view of the areas being destroyed by off-road vehicle enthusiast.  The Google Earth map view below is from Rt. 37 to Rt. 70 to Rt. 206 and from there to Rt. 30 then on to the Garden State Parkway.  All of the red lines and circles are clearly defined areas that are currently being used and destroyed by the off-roaders who enjoy destroying our public lands. I have personally visited many of these sites, but not all.  I have not spent a lot of time in the Southern sections of the Pinelands but believe me when I say the destruction there is just a bad as what you are seeing in the Google Earth image below.

Along with this post I have a images of the signs that are so ubiquitous in our state forest that you would have to be blind to miss them.  Under the sign image I will outline what is not legal in the state forest.

The video I have posted is from the Greenwood Wildlife Management Area.  One video is of a gate that was constructed from “I” beams and completely destroyed by people wanting motorized sport access to the area.  The other video is of vast grasslands that are currently being used as mudding arena. This was once used to release quail into the wildlife management area, thus the reason for the gate.

A vast area of the Pinelands being destroyed

A vast area of the Pinelands being destroyed

Rules posted in our state forest

Rules posted in our state forest

In our State Forest it is illegal to:

Litter or dump trash – residential or commercial (this is readily and routinely done)

Consume alcohol (every site that I have visited is drowning in beer cans and bottles.  It is probably the number one litter item in the Pinelands.  We have laws that forbid open containers of alcohol while driving so they are discarded into the forest)

Burn open fires (again, almost every site I have visited has the remains of a bonfire or campfire that are present even in the season when everyone is warned not to burn any fires in the forest)

Cut down trees or damage plant life (trees are routinely chopped down for use as firewood)

Abuse the environment (it goes without say that everything thing these people do is destructive to the environment)

Target Practice (many of the sites have shotgun shells and .22 casing at the locations)

Swimming only in unauthorized areas

All motor vehicles must be properly registered, insured. (many are not, especially dirt bikes and ATVs)

All motor vehicles must operate only on established roads and parking lots.

Operation of ATV, Trail Bikes, and off-road vehicles is prohibited. (you can see these type of vehicles in use daily)

Travel on dirt and gravel and sand roads is limited to 20 MPH. (dirt bikes have only one speed – FAST)

The current N.J. Motor Vehicle Code reads:

Dirt Bikes and ATVs are prohibited in State Forest

Here is some recently shot video that was taken in Greenwood Wildlife Management Area:

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Destruction Sites – “An Overview”

“An Overview” – Wharton State Forest

About this blog: I thought it is time for an overview of how vast the destruction problem is within the confines of just Wharton State Forest.  Recently I found some other spots in Greenwood Wildlife Management Area that were so disturbing I cut my day short and went home.  That experience told me it is time to show the magnitude of this problem focusing on Wharton State Forest alone.  What you are seeing here can be multiplied by 10x and would probably not truly represent the problems state wide.

There are two Google Earth views here, the first a rather tight view of Wharton S.F. and the second a more zoomed out shot showing it’s place in a broader state perspective .

The red areas are areas that I personally have visited to see the abuse the off-road vehicles have done. Some of them have be reported here, but most of them are smaller areas that I have not been able to get to, and probably will not, because there are so many areas report. The smaller areas when added up become a lot of area! If you are interested in trying to identifying areas of abuse for yourself go to Google Earth and zoom into an area you know.  Look for the sandy areas and vernal pools (green areas with no trees for the most part).  Zoom in even further and you will actually see tire tracks that have been left by the off-roaders!

Soon to come with be a report on the infamous “1/4 Mile” the number one spot that has been destroyed by the off-road vehicle crowd. Although, one of the areas I just visited could replace its status because, at the very least, it is the future “1/4 Mile”.

I beg you to leave comments on either the home page or any of the blog pages that describe the destruction.  We need to attack this head on and the we need more people willing to stand up to the challenge of this destruction.  In other words, show how upset you have become over this problem.

Close up view of Wharton S.F. from Google Earth

Close up view of Wharton S.F. from Google Earth

A Larger view of Wharton destruction

A Larger view of Wharton destruction

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Destruction Site – “High Crossing”

“High Crossing” – Wharton State Forest

Location: Shamong Twp., Burlington County, Wharton State Forest

high crossing

GPS location:   N 39.76869/ W 74.64397

Directions: Carranza Road south, just beyond Carranza Memorial to the abandoned N.J. Central R.R. tracks, make a right just before the tracks, Park Road.  Follow till you come to the squalor at the end of the road, about a mile, you can’t miss it, the road in front of you will be historic Old Tuckerton Stage Rd.

Local name: High Crossing

What is going on at this site: This is an historic site at the intersection of Old Tuckerton Stage Rd and the old N.J. Central R.R. Line.  From here you use to be able to get to Hampton Furnace, Batsto or back to Carranza Rd., but you can not travel beyond this point now.  Two of the roads lead to a most popular off-roading site (to be blog about at a later date) called “1/4 Mile”.  High Crossing is an off roaders play ground in miniature.  In all directions at this site there is nothing but water holes and mud holes to play in.  The roads in all directions are impassable unless you have a max’d out Jeep.  This area is in the heart of the Pinelands and normal people can no longer visit here.

What is there: Upland pine forest

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Pinelands Under Siege Video

This video is a compilation of videos taken right from YouTube.  If you go to their site www.youtube.com  and just type in Pine Barrens you can find hundreds of videos of 4×4 trucks, ATVs and dirt bikes literally destroying our public lands.  This group of motorized recreationalist do not even stop to think that they are destroying a world recognized biosphere (UNESC0 1988).

Destruction Site – “Jemima Mount”

“Jemima Mount” – Wharton State Forest

Face of Jemima Mount

Location: Washington Township, Burlington County, Wharton State Forest jemima mount GPS location:   N 39.71231/ W 74.61662

Directions: Rt. 206 to Quaker Bridge Rd. at the end of Atsion Rd, Quaker Bridge Rd. to Sandy Ridge Rd., right on Devious Mount Rd. to Jemima Mount Rd.  About 6 Miles from Rt. 206 in the heart of Wharton State Forest.

Local name: Jemima Mount

What is going on at this site: This location is a remnant from the end of the ice age, approx. 12 thousand years ago.  It is a 100′ + gravel ridge that extends about 1/4 mile in the middle of the typically flat Pine Barrens.  THIS IS A MONSTER TRUCK WANTABES HEAVEN!!!  The 4 x 4s and dirt bikes have scarred the face of this Pinelands anomaly beyond repair.  On weekends large groups of 4 x 4s race up and down the hill to challenge their vehicles.  Historically there is no road along the top of the ridge but one has been made over the years so there is no part of this beautiful ridge that has been left un-damage. The original scar on the face is so deep now it can not be traversed any longer so new roadways are being forged on the face of the hill, there are about five. Of course, there is the typical beer can debris and fire sites at the top of the ridge.

What is there: A magnificent oak and pine forest.

Video: Here is a video I pieced together from several, out of many, that are available on YouTube.  These videos were made by the operators of the vehicles abusing Jemima Mount.  They are so proud of their work they are willing to show it to the world.

Photo Gallery:  This photo gallery will give only a mild sense of how horrible this area has been abused

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Destruction Site – “Friendship (Settlement)”

“Friendship (Settlement)” – Wharton State Forest

Foundation at Friendship

Location: Washington Twp., Burlington County, Wharton State Forest – Rt. 532 to Carranza Rd. in Tabernacle.  South on Carranza to its end at Speedwell Rd.

Friendship foundation

Friendship foundation

GPS location:   N 39.75121/ W 74.58486 Local name: Friendship or Friendship Bogs What is going on at this site: This is an historic site.  For a site map of the location when it was a viable cranberry operation see “Ghost Towns: and other quirky places in the New Jersey Pine Barrens”, by Barbara Solem, Plexus Publishing, page 135. This site was established in 1869 and was a 3000 acre cranberry farm. The 4x4s and ATVs are making a mess of the old foundations here driving into and around them causing the walls to collapse. All of the sand roads and fields around the area are disturbed by excessive use of off-road vehicles. Comment:  It is difficult to understand what enjoyment anyone  gets from driving their 4×4 or ATV into abandoned cellar holes and through the fields of an historic site!!!! Isn’t it enough that some of the off-road crowd have already reduced many areas of our public forest to nothing more then mud holes and denuded forest laced with hundreds of miles of unusable roads?

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