Pine Barrens 500 Event

WARNING! WARNING! WARNING!

Our public lands are about to be asked to suffer another bout of erosion, excessive noise, possible destruction of habitat, the possible death of wildlife, the frightening of wild game, the destruction of the interior road systems that we need in order to visit our “Pinelands”, destruction of fire cuts, possible abuse of the forest by the use of illegally cut single track (also known as “trails” by the enduro riders) for use by motor cycles…and the list goes on.

You would be wise to query into the routes being used by the below motor cycle event in our Pinelands in October so you know that you will not be able to hike, go birding, walk your dog, take your children into nature, and hunt unimpeded in the area where this event will take place. You should contact Parks and Forestry Div. of the DEP, The Pinelands Commission, The Superintendent of the Southern Region for Parks and Forestry, and, of course Pine Barrens Adventure School themselves.

Please take notice of the information below and my comments below that:

Pine Barrens 500

EVENT INFORMATION

Fri, October 26 2018, 8:00 AM – Sun, October 28 2018, 4:00 PM [EST]

ABOUT THE EVENT

The 2018 Pine Barrens 500 Adventure Ride.

A Three day, 500-mile GPS guided off-pavement Adventure Motorcycle Ride and Eco-Tour of New Jersey’s Pinelands National Reserve. The course will consist of sand and gravel woods roads with whoops, deep sand, mud and water. Appx 15% of the course will be on pavement. All machines must have DOT Knobby Tires, 96 DB USFS approved muffler, 80 plus mile gas range and be 100% street legal. No Two Strokes or Trail Bikes.

This year we added a full Enduro’s worth of Firecuts to the course.

Over the duration of the three day event, the riders will be challenged with some of the best enduro sections from local enduro events. The Pine Barrens 500 is a challenge to complete most years, and this year the addition of the optional enduro sections will make a great event even better. There will also be the shortened Bike Big Route that avoids the more difficult sections of the Course.
For those of you unfamiliar with Pine Barrens Adventures Events, we try to host “Adventure Vacations” with great food, hotel lodging and excellent routes. We also have a great crew of very experienced riders that man support stations along the routes and also have support and sweep riders on the course to assist with any issues that arise. We also have two full EMS squads on duty in case of emergency’s.
ABOUT THE ORGANIZER: Adventures LLC: Pine Barrens Adventures staff and instructors are champion Enduro, Motocross and Rallymoto racers as well as experienced adventure riders. We have been organizing …in the Pinelands since 2005, and are also officers in local enduro clubs, organizing enduro and hare scramble events. We are a “Grassroots” organization, doing this for the love of the sport.

 

I have some serious question about this event and the decades of abuse cast on our Pinelands for the sake of for profit companies. They pay a nominal fee for a permit and cause serious damage to our public land’s environment. With no recourse!

As the flyer mentions they have “support and sweep riders on the “ but what about a crew to repair the erosion and destruction to the roads that many have to use in order to enjoy the Pinelands, a.k.a Pine Barrens?

I do have some serious questions about the event’s description above that I will cover here:

…..Eco-Tour. What is this? Will you have 150 motorcycles stop at some pristine intermittent pond and look at the grasses, wild flowers and Pine Barrens Tree Frogs? Otherwise, what will they gather of the ecosystem zooming down the sand roads?

….sand and gravel woods roads with whoops, deep sand, mud and water. These are the very roads that other users of the Pinelands need to get to see their beloved Pinelands. After your event will you fix all the problems so that on Monday the 29th we can all get our Pinelands back and do so on the roads you will be traveling over?

…. DOT Knobby tires. These are the very tires that chew up our public roads and fire cuts, forest and wet lands, because they are made to conquer the land. Can’t you require use of a smoother tire that will not present problems?

….Enduro’s worth of Firecuts to the course. The Forest Fire Service don’t want you to chew up their work to conduct prescribed burns and prevent devastating fires. I know many within the Fire Service who are opposed to the use of fire cuts by motorized vehicles. Besides, don’t you have enough in 500 miles of roads to not use the fire cuts? The Tour de Pines is a five-day cycling event and they get along just fine on roads, no fire cuts needed. There will be a hunting season going on at that time in October and hunters walk these cuts to get to their hunting areas. They could be in danger and the game they seek will be long gone from the area once you all ride through it. Not to mention the people who like to hike fire cuts.

….best enduro sections from local enduro events. To me that means using single track that were illegally cut by enduro riders over the many years they have been holding their events. Single track is not permitted to be used during these types of events, but often are.

Since many thousands of forest users preserved these public lands for quiet enjoyment with their taxes dollars they should not be used for the benefit of a few, turning our Pinelands into a motorsports arena, and profits for a company.

END THE PRACTICE OF ALLOWING OFF-ROADING EVENTS TO TAKE PLACE IN THE PINELANDS!!!!

THIS IS NOT A MOTORSPORTS ARENA AND WAS NEVER MEANT TO BE ONE.

Do Our Land Stewards Have Their Heads Buried in the Sand?

Do Our Land Stewards Have They Heads Buried in the Sand?

For at least the last decade, Division of Parks and Forestry, seemly, have been unable to protect the public lands within their charge. The excuses are many and reality seems to be a total lack of concern for the environment. There have been complaints made daily about the abuse Pinelands State Forest are receiving from off-road vehicle (ORV) use. There have been multiple newspaper articles, user group meetings, editorials, videos published on YouTube and downright anger on the part of the low impact recreation community, that being  hikers, birders, hunters, kayakers, equestrians about the abuse the forest and these users are taking from ORV traffic and events. Yet nothing has been done to stop the abuse. The latest straw is the Pinelands Commission’s unanimous vote to designate current topographic maps as the official road use map for Wharton State Forest………Parks and Forestry has done nothing to institute this ruling, ignoring the commission in charge of oversite our Pinelands National Reserve.

By following this blog you are well aware of the damage being done on a routine bas and some attempts to measures used to curtail it: like the Wharton Map plan that was scrapped once it was put into place, in addition to ridiculously confusing warning signs posted at many entries points of Wharton State Forest , beefing up of the Park Police in Wharton, Identifying over 200 damaged sites in Wharton alone by the Pinelands Commission staff and Pinelands Preservation Alliance, clean up and blockading of ORV destroyed areas by volunteers, volunteer watch groups to report abusing being done in real time, reporting the killing or injury of endangered wildlife and identifying their habitat, the list goes on. Still, the ORV crowd roars in and through the Pinelands like a wild west show. They are like the flock of geese that winter on your favorite lake, they may look good but they cause nothing but bacterial decay in the end.

There is a group of volunteers, about 400+ strong, who have at various times come to the rescue of our State Parks and Wildlife Management Areas. In the past this group of forest lovers has removed tons and tons of trash and debris from public lands, blockaded areas that were being damaged on private and public lands, planted trees to replace a grove of cedar trees that was destroyed by ORV usage, and rebuilt snake habitat. Now the volunteer group would like to start carrying out the mandate put in place with the map that the Pinelands Commission instituted. However Parks and Forestry do not seem interested in utilizing the volunteers’ services.

Below is a list of areas that need attention immediately to curtail ORV damage. A lot of the damage you are seeing in these videos that came from YouTube is currently being done even after the steps taken by the DEP. It only goes to show  that a slight increase of the Park Police and new signs will not stop this damage from happening. The two most important steps the DEP can take to stop this ravaging is:

  1. Stop cultivating a culture of persons who believe that Pinelands is just barren land by continuing to issue permits for off road events.
  2. Institute the map set by the Pinelands Commission. It will stop ORV traffic from going anywhere but on the designated roads and give law enforcement the tool they need to summon people who are not obeying the map. This is not all that difficult so what is the hold up?????

Here is a list projects that need to get started right away before it is too late to have the areas recover from the ORV traffic.

1St Beach on the Mullica River. From the video below you can see the damage that has been and continues to be done in the face of the new signs and rules posted. This once was a nice little beach from where you could watch the river, have the kids play, or even take a dip during the heat of the day. Now you take your life into your hands being there when someone wants to run their monster truck through sand. It needs to be blocked off and heavily signed to prevent continue damage. It was not preserved to run trucks and dirt bikes through it.

Cherry Hill Rd just off of Rt. 206. You can see from the video that this is a long stretch of road that is so overrun that its only useable by ORVs now. It is not a road according to the PC map. Most of the area was a push line for a fire break that has been turned into and ORV playground. Paralleling the road are some very valuable wetlands that are also be intruded upon. This location needs to be blockaded to limit access to only foot traffic, equestrians or bicycle.

Maple Island Road – Waterford Twp. This is relatively new destruction of a typical intermittent pond, that is breeding grounds for all sorts of wetlands creatures, some of them very rare, many rare and endangered plants find their home here as well. This needs to be barricaded to stop further destruction.

Quaker Bridge Area. You can see by the video that this has become a huge sand pile because ORV traffic likes to run in and around the area. This is thought to be an historic site, the location of the taverns and hotels that bordered the Batsto River at Quaker Bridge in the 1800’s. This area needs barricading to allow it grow in naturally and keep the ORV traffic off.

Atsion Pond Area. Another area with a road not on the map and it should be closed down. The wetlands here are being overrun by ORVs.

Remember the Pinelands Commission staff and PPA jointly identified well over 200 distrubed areas in Wharton State Forest alone. The rest of the Pinelands is just as bad but Wharton was chosen to be the template for this endeavor to clean up, restore and blockade ORV damaged areas all over our Pinelands National Reserve. At the pace of the DEP and Parks and Forestry are going it will never get off the ground….again! Perhaps the new administration will put knowledgeable people in the DEP and Parks and Forestry , people who love nature, understand the value of this resource, believe in science and just plain give a damn. You can’t manage hundreds of thousands of acres within our public lands without good personnel and budget. We’ll see.

If you would like to be part of a volunteer group that is working hard to keep our forest clean and free from ORV usage contact Jason Howell at jason@pinelandsalliance.org

 

Let’s Return to a Peaceful Forest

johnszurley-jemimamount

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.

kayaking

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.

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http://www.state.nj.us/pinelands/   

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.

potentialnonsensitiveareas_btb_reduced-1

Non-ensitive areas at BTB

Wetlands Intrusions

Wetlands Intrusions

 

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.

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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.

images

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.

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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

Should there be off-roading events in our Pinelands?

April 9th, 2017, a day that will live forever in the minds of conservationist in New Jersey. That is the date of the DEP and the enduro dirt bike clubs have chosen to hold their mostly secretly planned Pine Barons Clock Run that will be the eventual destruction of Brendan T. Byrne State Forest. Here’s a description of the race in their own words:

2017 Pine Barons Clock Run Description

The Pine Barons Clock run is scheduled for April 9, 2017. The event proposes to use roads, fire cuts, and existing enduro trails in: (Remember “trails” equals illegally cut “single tracks”)

BTB forest

Penn State forest

Bass river forest

Wharton Forest

Keep in mind that BTB represents Brendan T. Byrne State Forest and the existing enduro trials means illegally cut single track routes through our Pinelands. Brendan T. Byrne SF has now been divided up into sections, Sensitive and Non-sensitive, at whose discretion I am not sure, or even why. At this time the only approval needed to put this race into action seems to be that of the Pinelands Commission.                                                                  See map below:

potentialnonsensitiveareas_btb_reduced-1

Yellow is considered Non-sensitive areas at BTB – black lines are enduro “trials”.                Isn’t it all SENSITIVE?

This event has been in the planning stages by the DEP personal from Superintendents of the State Forest to the top of the DEP, Bob Martin himself, and the enduro clubs for about a year now. Many of these meetings centered on the enduro club’s wishes to prevent the DEP from imposing a Menu of Options that restricts their use to certain areas of the forest. The plan was first developed in Wharton with the idea that it would be used as a template for future enduro runs in other state forest. Enduro clubs, for whatever reason, have a very cozy relationship with the DEP. No one who would object to these abusive uses of our state forest were invited to the meetings or even asked for an opinion. The route the event will take is kept a secret too, they claim they don’t want to let the entrants know in advance what the route is so no one will ride it in advance (BEST INTEREPTED AS NOT LETTING THE PUBLIC KNOW). I would bet that half of them were the ones who laid out the route and have pre-ridden it as well. Our Pinelands State Forest are being managed now for the sake of a few hundred dirt bike riders, and the 8 million citizens of New Jersey that own the public lands have no say.

Here is a look at what can be expected to happen if this dirt bike race is allowed to take place. These videos and still images below are being seen for the first time and were taken by various participates at various enduro events. THEY ARE QUITE SHOCKING!!!

This is a Typical Enduro Event

Water Invasion

For years the enduro community had said that they do not destroy the Pinelands. Their machines use only a narrow part of the forest and it is self-healing in virtually no time at all! See what you think.

Soil Disturbance

This what these innocent enduro bikes do to the soils in the Pinelands, for hundreds of miles.

Road Destruction and Go-arounds

Our Pinelands roads have been a mess for years and no one is taking blame for their destruction. For the most part that problem is assigned to the 4 x 4 community (that you can read about in many of the other blog post listed here). So now we can thank the enduro community for their efforts to stop the general public from enjoying the Pinelands because you can’t drive on its roads.

Aftermath of Enduros

This is a long video, around 3 minutes, but it is a walk about on SINGLE TRACK trails after an enduro. Please take the time to watch so you can get a good idea of what is left behind by enduros. Believe me, the enduro riders are not coming back to rake over a 100 miles of trails and replant the area with native plants!

Below is a series of never before seen still images that are hard to view – WATCH AT YOUR OWN RISK!

 

 

 

If this isn’t bad enough these people have the audacity to complain to the DEP after a race that they are not satisfied with the destruction they have already reeked on the Pinelands.

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Department of Environmental Protection????

What part of their name doesn’t this DEP understand? Perhaps they need to have a definition of “environmental” explained to them. The DEP certainly needs to be schooled on the meaning of “protection” as opposed to “destruction” They can rightfully be called the Department of Environmental Destruction (DED) in this case, and many other cases.

What to do? Contact the office of Bob Martin, Commissioner of the DEP at:

Bob Martin, Commissioner
401 E. State St.
7th Floor, East Wing                                                                                                                                   P.O. Box 402
Trenton, NJ 08625-0402
phone: (609) 292-2885
fax: (609) 292-7695

and the Pinelands Commission at:

Pinelands Commission
PO Box 359
15 Springfield Road
New Lisbon, New Jersey 08064                                                                                                         Phone: (609) 894-7300
Fax: (609) 894-7330

Tell them that you will not stand to have our public lands destroyed this way. The enduros have been destroying the Pinelands for 75 years (their time frame) it is now time to give the Pinelands a rest by having a 75 year ban on enduros and all 4 x 4 off-roading events.

Change!                                                                                                                                 Here is a link for a petition on change.org. “Stop off-road vehicle races through protected habitat!” https://www.change.org/p/new-jersey-pinelands-commission-stop-off-road-vehicle-races-through-protected-habitat-36f3af3f-d5cd-4471-a954-bccfa5f18f18. Please go to this link and sign the petition to stop this habitat abuse!

Another View                                                                                                                                              What could be better than offering another view. Here is a video produced by enduro advocate Joe Springer offering “alternative facts”. You be the judge….what would like to see and hear in your Pinelands?

http://www.vimeo.com/86267015

Who Really Owns Our Public Lands?

 

Who Really Owns Our Public Lands????

I have long been advocating that The DEP and Pinelands Commission should cease issuing permits for off-road event in our public lands. These permits are first approved by the Superintendents of the State Forest, then on to the DEP and finally approved by the Pinelands Commission’s staff and Executive Director. Now my case has become even more critical. On April the 9th, 2017 an enduro group is planning a race that will encompass Brendan T. Byrne State, Bass River State Forest, Penn State Forest and Wharton State Forest. That is one hell of a race to cover all of that territory. The event is called the Pine Barons Clock Run and will have appx. 150 participants. Just the fact that they are planning this event and the DEP is in line to approve it is not enough – they want to re-open the use of illegally cut “single track” that have been banded for years and have divided the forest up into Non-Sensitive and Sensitive area (see chart below). “Single tracks” are narrow paths chain sawed through the Pinelands by the dirt bike clubs and groups themselves. They were long ago been forbidden to do such cutting but now they want to start using them again. In dirt biker lingo “single track” = “trail”. Keep that in mind when view the videos below – very important, comparable to “alternative facts”, a very popular phase these days.

See What Is Going On YOUR Public Lands!

The videos presented here are taken directly from videos produced by various enduro groups and published on YouTube. First and foremost, I want you to see what an enduro looks like, remember they are doing the filming themselves.

This Is What A “single track” Race Looks Like

This video is what a “single track” looks like. It is a path cut through the forest with chain saws and loppers to open up a trail that can cover a lot of territory. There was recently a new one discovered in Bass River State Forest that was 5 (FIVE) miles long.

This next video tells, in their own words, what these trails are and that they are NOT fire cuts or plow lines.

This video explains, again in their own words, why these “trails” are so important. Not so sure we want to help build their male/female egos by allowing them the luxury of using our forest for their events.

We Should All Get Along?

Why should we all get along as this video voice over suggest? They have no concern for the environment, they cut paths into the forest at random (it is illegal), the noise is disturbing not only to hikers, hunters, fisherman, equestrians and kayakers it also scares the hell out of wildlife. There have been recent incidents of Pine snakes being killed on “single track” routes and as you can tell from the videos these machines are not friendly to any part of the ground they pass over.

Who Is Dividing Up Your Forest?

Somewhat secret meetings, starting around March of 2016, between the dirt bike community and representatives of the DEP have shown that there is a very friendly attitude toward the enduro crowd by the DEP. There have been proposals made to the DEP by conservation minded groups to help protect areas of the Pinelands that are getting constant abuse by off-roading practices but the DEP has yet to respond. They, the DEP, don’t want to accept help to preserve our forest but they will help enduro groups destroy it. Go figure! The map below of Brendan T. Byrne State Forest shows the forest divided up into Non-Sensitive (yellow) and Sensitive areas (green). The black lines in the Non-Sensitive (yellow) areas are routes that have been used by enduros – seems like every inch of the land is being run over by dirt bikes. It is thought that this same plan is also going to be applied to all the other State Forest in the Pinelands, Bass River, Penn State, and Wharton. DID YOU HAVE A VOICE IN THIS DIVISION OF OUR STATE FOREST???????  Most of us know that the entire Pinelands IS SENSITIVE.

potentialnonsensitiveareas_btb_reduced-1

Why just the Pinelands?

There are appx. 20 off-roading events approved by the DEP per year in the Pinelands. None of these event are held in Stokes State Forest, Round Valley Reservoir, or Island Beach State Park. What has the Pinelands become in the eyes of the DEP – a dumping ground for the events no one wants up north?  All of these events are never short lived. After these events participants from all over our state and the adjoining states, where this is not legal, return day after day, month after month and year after year to abuse our public lands because no one is watching. These events have developed a culture that believes our Pinelands is nothing more than a motorsports area – it seems the DEP feels the same way!

 

 

 

Sometimes we need the hear the truth about our Pinelands and its real problems.

Yesterday I received this email from NJOA, NJ Outdoor Alliance (see below), https://www.njoutdooralliance.org/, a non-profit group representing “outdoorsmen and outdoorswomen” and a lobbying group to fight for their represented group’s rights, mainly around hunting and fishing and trapping issues ( a subject for further debate). They also claim to represent forestry and animal welfare groups (? on the latter). In any case, I take issue with the content of this email in regards to the first sentence which claims to have implemented the Wharton State Park,( known to many of us as Wharton State Forest), Motor Vehicle Plan (Wharton State Forest is appx. 125,000 acre State Forest in Southern New Jersey and our state’s largest State Forest). I also have to assume that the word “inpliment” used in their email, which is not a word, was it to mean “implement” (?) which is a word that closely resembles their word but which most directories explain to mean “to put into effect”. When it comes to the Wharton Motorized Access Plan (MAP) the NJOA did NOTHING BUT BLOCK its implementation, after the MAP went into effect, with their money and lobbying power. By some sort of proxy, they really represented Mudders (4×4 off-roaders who abuse the forest), dirt bikers (enduro riders) who have appx. 20 sanctioned events in the Pinelands every year but continue to abuse the forest day in and day out after their events (an interesting note is that the Pinelands is the only part of the state authorized to hold these events, they are not held in Stokes State Forest, Round Valley reservoir or other state parks like Island Beach State Park) , and ATV riders who operate illegally in on all public lands in New Jersey. NJOA claims to have a “voting block of 800,000” outdoor peoples (who knows how each of those 800,00 really vote – they make a large assumption that these people vote in favor of NJOA objectives – and reality is the our lawmakers fall for this type of rhetoric). Yet NJOA doesn’t seem to represent the hikers, kayakers, birders, equestrians and all folks who are interested in the “quiet” enjoyment of our forest, heck, aren’t they outdoor folks too (perhaps it is because they are the quiet majority that like QUIET in stead of uproaring voices, mud, destroyed wetlands, and noise in their forest)? Opposing the MAP was a HUGE MISTAKE by NJOA. They apparently misrepresented that the Wharton MAP was something that was going to close all activities, especially hunting and fishing, in Wharton and was going to be eventually impossed on all of our State Forest in the favor of “tree huggers” (this idea could have stemmed from the possibility some of its management may have friends and family who are, in fact, off-road abusers). Well, the suppossed,”800,000 persons” voting block were possibly  hoodwinked! The Wharton MAP would have given hunters, and others needing access, a permit to do so but in the meantime would have prevented the continued destruction of our State’s largest natural resource. It would have given hunters access to the forest without huge mud wallows that are not traversable, quiet enjoyment during their hunt ( who wants to be on stand waiting for the prized buck when 15 dirt bikes come roaring through your hunting area), and roads that first responders can not use to get to hunters in case of any emergency that may befall them. That is just the stuff that hunters have lost out on because of NJOA’s interference, what about the birders, hikers, kayakers, and parents taking their young ones on a hike to teach them the quiet enjoyment and peacefulness of our forest (the original intent for the preservation of our public lands)? NJOA did not help anyone but the off-road crowd to allow them to continue their relentless destruction of our beautiful public lands. Don’t get me wrong, as a past hunter and serious offshore fisherperson (I made a handsome living as a fishing tackle sales representative for many national companies in the industry), I feel that NJOA has done terrific work in many areas – but they BLEW this one!!!
It appears that “conservation” voting is for the betterment of the people and their natural resources, “conservative” voting appears to be a vote for special interest and money.

njoa-email

Email from NJOA

 

Preserved Environment or Motorsport Arena

 

“It is horrifying that we have to fight our own government to save the environment”, strong words from famous landscape photographer Ansel Adams! Although spoken many decades ago it is a daily fact in our world, here in New Jersey it ubiquitous. Our environment is assaulted daily by either unneeded pipeline proposals, refusal to allow alternative sources of energy to get a foot hold, water quality degradation, or some assault on the Pinelands National Reserve, a.k.a. The Pine Barrens, to name a few. For purposes of this blog I will stick with the Pine Barrens as my area to defend.

                                                           

When you track the evolution the creation of the Pinelands National Reserve you would think that our government would be standing on its head to see that it is maintained and preserved for the original purpose intended by the National Parks and Recreation of 1978, the Pinelands Protection Act of 1980, the Pinelands Comprehensive Management Plan of 1981 and the honor of being named a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO in 1988. Lots of time, money and effort went into preserving our Pinelands now there is no time, money, or much of an effort to continue its preservation.

For me specifically it is the wanton destruction taking place in Wharton State Forest and the massive amounts of destruction being caused by the off-roading community throughout the Pinelands. Personally, I liken it to the Wild West.

4 x 4 Jeep types, dirt bikes and ATVs (ATVs are illegal in all NJ public lands) come and go as they please as if the Pine Barrens is a motorsport arena. We could rename it The Pine Barrens Raceway and it this point it may be appropriate. A culture has developed over decades that our Pine Barrens is just that, barren, and you can run over it with any off-roading machine that you can afford. The off-road community feels that “they” own the Pine Barrens and therefore they can do what they desire there. Even with established laws governing our parks and forest these laws are not well enforced, almost completely ignored by the off-roading public. I am not referring here to the everyday person who owns a Jeep or 4×4 vehicle or dirt bike that loves traveling in the Pinelands to see what is there, enjoying the quiet, the flora and fauna, hunts or fishes, hikes it trails and just loves being in nature. These are the people who park where they should, travel the many sand roads that are usable, obey the 20 MPH speed limit, and leave nothing behind to spoil the visit of the next person. No, the people I am talking about are the ones who operate ATVs in every conceivable corner of the forest because they have a machine that can get them there, operate dirt bikes at high rates of speed, cut unauthorized single tracks into the woods, run up and down fire breaks, create a lot of noise, blow up dust and more or less make the other users of the forest get out of their way, Jeep types that climb every hill that is over 18” high, cut donuts over and over again into paleo dunes, destroy the faces of the ice age gravel hills, run through vernal pools and other wetlands because that is where the mud is, leave behind mounds of beer cans because they can’t get caught with an open container of liquor in NJ, run through the Pine Barrens in large groups (clubs) day and night over the already fragile sand roads, crash through puddles in the roads over and over again until they become mud wallows that have made many roads unusable by anyone but their own kind. Those are the people of New Jersey should all get angry about.

What I have described above does go on every day, especially on weekends, in your Pine Barrens. There are people who travel from New York to Virginia to have the above described fun in our Pine Barrens. Just go to YouTube.com and type in NJ Pine Barrens, NJ wheeling, NJ mudding, or just Pine Barrens and you will get to see hundreds of videos shot by the very people you see in them showing their bravado and the ability of their machines. Just Google “Pine Barrens off roading” and you will see hundreds of still images depicting the culture to which I am referring. There have been ads by Toyota suggesting if you live in NYC you take your Tacoma to the New Jersey Pine Barrens as there is over 500 miles of trails to ride. Companies have run ads showing the use of their after-market off-road equipment performing in the Pine Barrens. Companies exist that teach people how to ride our sand roads on dirt bikes for a fee of $500+ dollars, and others how to use your Jeep in our wetlands. Here is part of an ad for the Pine Barrens Jamboree from Jeep Jamboree, a California based company that annually hold a rally in the Pines, they charge participates $500 per family to ride through miles and miles of our Pinelands: ……..”Water flows from the Kirkwood-Cohansey aquifer – one of the largest on the continent. There is usually an abundance of water, so expect to get your feet wet and your Jeep® 4×4 muddy in the many mud holes and water crossings.” Google “images for jeep jamboree Pine Barrens” and you will get a flavor of what they offer. Dirt bike groups hold enduros, multi-mile one and two day motorcycle races, with hundreds of participants who are charged a fee to participate. Jeep and 4 x 4 clubs hold what they call “runs” through the Pines and many times with 20 to 40 jeeps participating, the activity is unregulated.

Now you can see where the culture comes from and why people travel many miles to “ride” in our Pinelands. What is worse is that has all been sanctioned by the NJ DEP and the Pinelands Commission. They have been doing this for decades. These authorities have to approve the route(s) of each event, assuming they apply for a permit, and charge the groups and fee of $5.00 per mile of the planned route. So, if the route is 100 miles their fee is $500. These groups do not have to post a bond to cover any damage that they may do during their event. I, personally, have never heard of any group repairing the damage they cause, and they do cause damage. Just think of 70 Jeeps or 200 motorcycles roaring over the trails and sand roads hour after hour and over a course of two days. Their machines are made to challenge land, and that is what they do during their contest. These events go by names like Jeep Jamboree, Curly Fern Enduro , Ride in the Pines, there is a Pine Barrens 500 and a 300, and quite a few others. Some of these events have a long history but that does not make them anymore correct environmentally. Authorities have made an error for decades approving such contest. These events are held only in the Pine Barrens, they are not held in Round Valley Reservoir, Spruce Reservoir or Stokes State Forest. In states that adjoin NJ these events are not permitted on public lands and are only held on private property. The worst of it is not the event itself it is the aftermath of the event. Without permission or permit or financial commitment people who participate in these events return week after week, month after month, and year after year. They come back with friends and relatives, they come from neighboring states, the come to make the “run” again. No one stops them. These USERS become ABUSERS!

In a recent time frame Lacey Township in Ocean County developed a task force to corral ATV and off-road vehicle operators because of the abuses that have been reported by property owners, many of them coming from out of state and N. Jersey. At one arrest it was reported that a police officer was run into by a suspect trying to avoid arrest. Winslow Twp. recently had a task force in conjunction with Wildlife Management Area enforcement. Over one weekend of trying to control off-roading in the township there were multiple arrest for trespassing, alcohol consumption, in park after hours, illegal swimming, people with warrants for their arrest were located and motor vehicle violations.http://www.nj.com/camden/index.ssf/2016/08/undercover_cops_target_illegal_off-road_riding_swi.html  New Jersey Conservation Foundation held a tree planting volunteer day along the Forked River to refurbish the stream banks that have been destroyed by off-roading. Within days hundreds newly planted cedar trees were ripped out of the ground and burned in a pile, all protest from off-roaders for shutting down their area. A volunteer group did a watch program over the Labor Day weekend to observe known off-roading areas. In a four or five hour period they observed and recorded and/or videoed 12 off-roading violations in only four locations. Some offensives were committed by youthful unlicensed drivers with unlicensed vehicles. Many of these violations were reported to the Park Police while the actual violations were taking place, but none of the calls were responded to. It was a holiday and the Park Police still don’t have enough manpower and they seem to lack all the equipment they should have, I will give them that, but to my knowledge there was no follow up or call back. And, recently there was a report of a Forest Fire Warden having his truck hit head-on by a dirt bike operator traveling at high speeds on a sand road. The rider got up and fled the scene. The list goes on and on and this Wild West behavior continues.

Last year the DEP developed what was known as the M.A.P. map(motorized access plan) for Wharton State Forest in hopes of using that plan as an outline for future motor vehicle access in other State Forest. The off-roading folks screamed and yelled very loudly about losing their access. After some political maneuvering the group succeeded in having the DEP back off the plan. The DEP’s answer to the problem was to beef up enforcement, and everyone agreed enforcement was sorely needed. Its not working. There are many sites of off-road destruction that have been monitored on a weekly basis and the information indicating that even though enforcement is being stepped up these areas continue to be abused. The weekly information was fed to the DEP and the Park Police but no action has been taken in the monitored areas.

The best hope for controlling access to the Pinelands now lays with the Pinelands Commission http://www.state.nj.us/pinelands/index.shtml . They have the authority to designate areas of closure for many reasons, one of them is motor vehicle abuse. They need to come up with a plan, map, blueprint – call it what you will – to delineate where motor vehicle use is permitted and, more importantly, where is not. The wildlife management areas which fall under the jurisdiction of the Div. of Fish and Game have announced that they will no longer permit off-road vehicles events on their lands. The best way to begin curtailing the culture issue is to STOP issuing permits for off-roading events in the Pine Barrens, period. These events cost the public millions in the long run with no monetary return what-so-ever. More importantly, not one of these events has any ecological benefit for the Pinelands. Off-roading events do in fact scare off the general public because the roads in the Pine Barrens have become unusable, denying many many people access. It is intimidating to have to give way to dirt bikes, Jeeps and ATV s who are speeding and/or creating lots of dust, noise. It is unfair that one user group commands such control over the most wonderful environmental asset we have in this state. What about the wildlife, I am sure they aren’t real happy to have their home invaded by these land destruction machines.

As a parting thought – We have all seen beautiful photographs and paintings, read poems and heard songs about our Pinelands but never have I seen or heard any that include a muddy Jeep, ATV or dirt bike in artful depictions of the Pine Barrens!

Help for Wharton????

A Short Update

The waning months of 2015 and the beginning of 2016 been very trying times for Wharton State Forest, New Jersey’s largest State Forest.  In the summer of 2015 the DEP gave the “all ahead full” to a unique plan to manage Wharton’s resources, resources that were being depleted rapidly by excessive off-road vehicle use. As the M.A.P. (Motorized Access Plan) got underway the very people who use the forest as their Motorsports Park became alarmed that they would be losing the testing ground for their very expensive off-road vehicles, Jeeps, dirt bikes, and ATVs (ATVs are illegal on all public lands in NJ) that challenge the land. I might add that this culturally embedded idea that the Pine Barrens is a motor sports arena has been fostered by many decades of the DEP and The Pinelands Commission issuing permits for off-road vehicle events for both 4 x 4s and dirt-bike enduros. (There are perhaps 20 such events every year in the Pine Barrens. The irony of this is these events are not permitted in Northern New Jersey parks like Round Valley Reservoir, Stokes State Forest, Spruce Run Reservoir,or any of the other Northern parks. These events are only held in the Pine Barrens). Off-road vehicles events are not staged in any adjoining state’s

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parks (this has also created a lot of traffic from out-of-state sources). So, several Facebook groups were started to oppose the closure of any of the roads/trails in Wharton SF. The off-road groups found a helpful and well-financed partner in a hunting and fishing lobby (some of their ranks are off-roaders), neither group wanted to lose their supposed open access to Wharton SF, or any of the many Pinelands areas they use to challenge their vehicles or hunt and fish. With a prominent lobbying group already in place the hunting and fishing lobby, with their new allies, gained access to the Governor’s office by claiming tens of thousands of voters (one can assume almost all the hunters and fisherman in NJ more than likely don’t appreciate the noise and chaos that off-road vehicles cause in their natural world. You can also image they may have been hijacked into thinking all of the State Forest are going to be closed!would not stand for any closures in Wharton SF. So the environment be damned! selfish suppossed voters win, the DEP caved and rescinded the very management program they already backed 100%, one that took years to develop. The DEP hop scotched around by holding a series of meetings, stakeholder meetings as they referred to them, and without hesitation (oh, perhaps a little pressure from the Governor’s Office) they officially rescinded the M.A.P.

We skip now to what is going on in today’s world.

Mutual Cooperation

At a Stake Holders meeting in March the DEP agreed with all concerned that the major issue creating the destruction of Wharton was the total lack of enforcement by the NJ Park Police. So, they announced the assignment of seven officers to the Wharton office in Batsto. They are assigned to just patrol Wharton, 24/7, unless something that needs more attention in another area required their participation. Also, the DEP had new signage made to post environmentally sensitive areas, eleven or twelve specific spots, IMG_0133and they were waiting for large metal signs to be placed at about 50 entrances to Wharton. _L0A0981The metal signs are to warn that there are restrictions to motor vehicle usage in the park and it cited all the codes that could be enforced. Once the new signs arrived they requested volunteers to install them. There are claims to many violations being charged against errant off-road vehicle users since the addition of officers and the installation of new signage, but it seems no one wants to give up the information. Attempts to obtain the violation information, which would help determine how successful the new enforcement program is working, have apparently met with a lot of resistance because groups have tried to OPRA the

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information but so far no success. In April the DEP received the metal signs and over a two morning period volunteers from various groups collaborated to install them. A job well done. At this point most of the paper Environmentally Sensitive Area signs have been largely ignored, some ripped off the trees and some even burned. To the best of my knowledge the metal signs have held up and only a scrapthemap3small amount of graffiti collected on them.

The Pinelands Commission

In the midst of all of this The Pinelands Commission started looking into what was going on the Pinelands, specifically Wharton State Forest. I understand that a couple of the commissioners have visited various destruction sites and, of course, where not pleased by what they observed. Who would be! They , the Commission, announced they where going to look into the problem. Public testimony was no different from normal, the group opposed to motor vehicle travel restriction in Wharton suggested that the DEP has it all under control and there was no need for them to upset the proverbial apple cart and the group insisting the damage stop before the whole of Wharton is destroyed begging the commission to get involved. Recently, several Commission members have voiced their concern about the issue, one commissioner located over 170 wetlands areas that have Wetlands intrusionbeen effected by off-road vehicle abuse and another has suggested perhaps there should be a law that an impounded vehicle that was caught abusing the Pinelands not be given back once a fine is paid but sold to recoup cost to repair the damages done. The Commissions staff is looking into validating the various destruction sites. So it appears the Commission is moving forward to deal with the problem.

Some Solid Results

This past weekend, Sunday June 5th, the major surviving Facebook group opposing the restrictions on travel by motor vehicle (no area was to be restricted to hiking, biking or horseback riding only motor vehicle traffic) in Wharton, Open Trails New Jersey (OTNJ), installed three

The first gate installl

The first gate install

gates they manufactured at their cost to completely

block off the Jemima Mount Area (see accompany map) (my major fear is that the users of Jemima Mt. will now travel to Colliers Mill WMA area in Jackson where the destruction of a beautiful rolling hill forest is being carried out at a very fast pace)

These gates could be opened temporarily for seasonal events like hunting.  Prior to this installation OTNJ was vehemently opposed to closing any trails/roads/paths that had previously been used by motor vehicles, regardless of whether it was even a legitimate road or just a push line created by the Fire Service to stop wild-fire. It took some time but OTNJ seems to have come to the understanding that you cannot protect Wharton, or any other Pinelands public lands, unless restrictions are put in place. Restricting vehicle access is very common practice in every state, it is even done in many of the Northern New Jersey Public lands.

Area surrounding Jemima Mt. no longer accessible by motor vehicle.

Area surrounding Jemima Mt. not accessible by motor vehicle.

In the recent past one of the founding members of OTNJ has asked me to work in conjunction with them, to paraphase…. “since we all have a common interest in the forest” on some project to help Wharton. I could not help with the gate installation because my strength is still limited from my surgery but I did photograph the event for DEP usage.  As you can see from the images here

OTNJ gates at Jemima

OTNJ gates at Jemima

the gates are super and OTNJ did a wonderful job with their manufacture and installation.

I would like to suggest there is another project we can work in tandem on that will not cost money or volunteer time in the field. It is common knowledge that the culture of viewing our Pinelands as a motor sports arena is a result of the decades of the DEP and The Pinelands Commission issuing permits for off-road vehicle events in the Pine Barrens. Let’s face it, there is no motor sports event that includes off-road style vehicles that can do anything healthy for the Pine Barrens.  It is common sense, it just can’t be beneifical. Also, there is no financial reward to the Pine Barrens, for the repair of damages that these events cause, and the minor fees that are collected to issue these permits is purely chicken feed to the States coffers or any of its commission.  Folks in other states that forbid this type of public land use also own off-road vehicles and they find appropriate areas to use them without burdening their State Forest. There is no good reason, financially or environmentally, to stage such events in the Pine Barrens. So here could be our mutually cooperative goal:

Press the DEP and the Pinelands Commission to cease issuing off-road vehicle event permits in our Pinelands.

Jeep Jamboree 2016 – WOW! IT IS FINALLY COMING!!!!!

Whoopee its coming again!!! I know everyone has been waiting with bated breath.

Jeep Jamboree 2016 – March 17 – 19, 2016  New Jersey Pine Barrens

Jeep Jamboree 2016 advertisement

Jeep Jamboree 2016 advertisement

One of the synonyms for Jamboree is bash.  The only bash going on here is the Pine Barrens getting bashed. The above image that Jeep Jamboree used for its ad is from an area that has been off limits to motor vehicles for years, 1/4 Mile Bogs. 1/4 Mile is a highly sensative ecological area that was destroyed via off-road vehicle abuse, obviously some of it by Jeep Jamboree. The 2015 Jamboree was not staged, supposedly, because video taken during their 2014 event was not representative of where they were permitted to travel. This event will be their 22nd year of tearing up our Pinelands. Think about it, a company from California comes all the way to NJ to stage an event for 50 to 70 Jeeps to ride around our forest and wetlands on a Friday, Saturday and Sunday in March, the wettest period in the Pine Barrens, and then returns to California on Monday with a pile of cash.  They “ain’t” doing this for free, especially since they are charging nearly $500 per vehicle to ride around our State Forest.  They have nomial permit fees and no bond to post for damage that may be done during their event. Seems like a pretty good profit margin to me.

On two recent occasions I had the privilege of being present when Jeep Jamboree’s local representative, Jim Justice, spoke at the Hammonton stateholders meeting in November 2015 concerning the Wharton M.A.P. proposal, conducted by the DEP, and a recent Pinelands Commission meeting were he spoke of the virtues of the Jeep Jamboree. Here is some of what he said, most of this is paraphrased but you’ll get the picture when you watch the videos below.

…..We look for areas of historic significance.  …..guides point out the history of places like Hampton Furnace, the cranberry bogs and the railroad tracks ( I have never seen any of that on any of the many videos posted on YouTube by many  Jeep Jamboree participants).  …..We educate with a 101 offroading course for safe and responsible offroading (safe may be true but responsible to the environment it is not)  …..Our intent is not to damage the forest and to keep it open to everyone (well, the roads, part of the forest, depicted in these videos are not now open to anyone but those who have a Jeep)  …..teach sane responsible offroading  – don’t speed though the mudholes so you don’t get stuck, go through them slowly (the videos don’t bare that out because there many people towing each other out of the deep waterholes (wetlands).  …..We get permits from the Pinelands Commission and we do everything in our power to stay within the permitted route (what would stop them from staying on a permitted route. Many scenes in the videos are from 1/4 MIle Bogs which is posted and I am sure was not part of the permited route).  …..some past videos were proven to not be our people (the videos below clearly show their Trail Guides in the video)  ….. we stay on the route and don’t use go-arounds and we have prosecuted people for going in the meadows (what about the go-arounds used in the videos and who is it they have prosecuted?)

The videos below represent three conscutive years of Jeep Jamboree 2012, 2013, 2014 and a video that shows what happens after an event and people return to ride again and again without a permit and, of course, with their friends.  All videos were taken by participates in the various Jeep Jamborees.  All are edited to take out the boring parts and the loud music that the videographers seem to like, it could damage your ears.

2012 Jeep Jamboree – Lined up to go through a vernal pool and using the mud wallow on a Right of Way instead of using the road right next too it.

2013 Jeep Jamboree – Clearly taken at 1/4 Mile Bogs, which has been off limits for several years.  Note that the first vehicle is registered in Virginia.  Many of the vehicles that participate in this, and many unpermitted events, are from out of state because they can do here what they can’t do in their home states.

2014 Jeep Jamboree – Many wetland intrusions and the last section of the video shows a road that would take 100’s of thousands of dollars to repair.

This last video is a great example of what happens after an event.  People return, without permits, with their friends and make the “run” again for weeks, months and years to come and it causes even more damage to our delicate sand road infrastructure.

The mystery here is why the agencies in charge of our public lands, especially our Pinelands, the DEP and the Pinelands Commission, continue to issue permits for these events. There is certainly no ecological or financial advantage.  If they are trying please a user group what about the other user groups that enjoy our public lands for quiet recreation. If you are on a road that Jeep Jamboree is using you will either have to challenge 20 or 30 vehicles (they split up into two groups so you could encounter this twice in one day as I have) or move over and let them through.  If you have been in the area of a dirt bike enduro then you know you have to get out of the way, put up with the noise, speeds over the posted limit, and hide from the dust.

Decades and decades of issuing permits for motorsports as given the impression, locally and to all the off-road enthusiast in the Delaware Valley, that our public lands are open as a motorsports arena, 24 hours a day, permit or no. If there are going to be permits issued these motorsports events they should be chaperoned by Park Police so the event does not harm the environment or distrub those that want quiet enjoyment of our public lands.

The Pinelands was preserved by forward thinking governors of the 70 and 80’s and I don’t think they envisioned a motorsports park when they decide this area was worth preserving. Even with todays budget restrictions there seems very little reason not to keep our public lands just as we found them.

Here are some photographs taken right from the Jeep Jamboree website.  It is a clear indication that their concern is not for our environment but for their bottom line.

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Destruction Site – Whitesbog Area – Brendan Byrne State Forest

Historic Whitesbog Area Being Destroyed 

Appx. 117 acres of wetlands destroyed

Location: Browns Mills, Burlington Country, Brendan Byrne State Forest

GPS location:   East end: 39.963704/-74.529273

West end: 39.962333/-74.516465

 

Lou’s Lake

Local name: For this image “Lou’s Lake”

Type of Area: Open wetlands/forest wetlands/vernal pool

What is going on at this site: The mudders have the audacity to name a destroyed wetlands after themselves, the sign in the background of the above images says “Lou’s Lake”. Also, they have provided all their mudder friends with a place to dispose of their trash (usually beer cans – cheap beer too). They should provide equipment for restoration of this vernal pool instead of a trash receptacle! This site was pointed out to me by my friends Jason Howell and Emile DiVito.  All images were provide by Jason Howell.  As you can see in the Google Earth shot above this area is laced with multiple roadways through a sensitive wetlands area.  The fact that this encompasses appx. 117 acres is not surprising as there are many areas in the Pine Barrens destroyed by mudders that can range from 25 acres and up.  The images below are explanation enough about what is going on here.  Also, at the end of this post is a video shot while tracking a mudder and calling into the DEP hotline 877-927-6337.  This is something we can all do, I have done it several times in the past.  If you see any illegal off-roading going on or trash dumped in the woods, anywhere in New Jersey, call the above number and report it.

The DEP and Pinelands Commission have made very little effort to correct this problem but have it all tied up in a neat bureaucratic package right now.  By the time they make up their minds on a course of action our forest will have been destroyed by 4 x 4 Jeep types, dirt bikes or ATV’s (which are illegal to operate on all public lands in NJ). This is happening before their very eyes, day by day, minute by minute!

The loudly shouting masses trying to hold off managing our public lands with motorized access plans are the very people who are creating the problems.  Look at the images below and you can see that roadways are cut by 4 x 4 vehicles, they are not authorized roadways.  People drive on them all the time and think it is okay because the road is there, but the road is illegally forged through the wetlands.   These problems are not being caused by just “renegades in the night” or “miss guided youth” it is an entire community that includes young and old, male and female, from all walks of life.

What is there: This is prime habitat for all Pinelands flora and fauna.

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The video below is a great example of reporting the problems we all see when we are enjoying the forest.  Please, if you see something like this going on please report it to 1-877-927-6337

 

Exciting “NEW” off-roading video

Off-roading at its best!!!!

This is a new video compilation of the off-roading experience. If this doesn’t excite you enough to call the DEP and demand that this activity be stopped on our public lands I don’t know what will.  This stuff goes on all the time in the Pinelands, day and night, and almost totally unabated.  The Pinelands is viewed by this group of users as a motor sports arena, it is the WILD WEST out there. It has become the playground for 4 x 4 trucks (Jeep types especially), dirt bikes and ATVs (all ATV use on NJ public lands is forbidden). Let the DEP know that you wish to have our public lands returned to their original purpose of preservation and passive recreation.

Wharton M.A.P.

Wharton M.A.P. (Motorized Access Plan)”

A Personal Opinion

What is the M.A.P. – It is a plan to, first and foremost, protect Wharton State Forest from the ravages of excess off-road vehicle use that has gone on for years, nearly unabated, and has taken its toll on the forest’s resources.  This abuse has destroyed prime wetlands, forest habitat, wildlife habitat, all forms of infrastructure, cultural and historic sites and has turned many miles of sand roads into impassable muddy mires that prevent use of the forest by citizens who do not have, or intend to obtain, an off-road vehicle.  Many roads are so poor that first responders and Forest Fire Service vehicles can not use them either.

Who developed the M.A.P. – The Stewards of the forest and the Forest Fire Service, the professionals that we hired to preserve and protect our public lands, have spent years gathering information that form the basis of the MAP that will preserve our natural heritage and allow full access to the Wharton State Forest. Every trail, path or road has been tracked with GPS to insure accuracy of the developing map.  The plan takes into account the preservation of wetlands and forest habitat balanced with access to motor vehicles.  Where motor vehicles will not be permitted under the plan access will still be available to hiking, biking and equestrian endeavors.  Under the plan people who enjoy passive recreation in the forest will not have to be run off roads by enthusiastic off-roaders, will be able to have areas that will be free of noise and dust, making their experience much more pleasurable. Wildlife will have homes that are less disturbed by noise and habitat destruction. Our State Forest were never intended to be motorsports arenas even though the activity has been going on for years.  Recognizing this the M.A.P. is in development in order to return the forest to a more natural state, one that everyone can be proud of.

Video

Please watch the video below.  The activity you see here has been going on long before this video was produced by a large organized Jeep group, and has been going on ever since up to the present.  There are many off-road clubs and groups that run through the forest like it is the WILD WEST! I recently encountered a couple of groups from Philadelphia using ATV’s (illegal in all NJ public lands) in a Wildlife Management Area (WMA), none of the vehicles were registered and when asked if they knew it was illegal to operate their ATV’s there they said “yes, so what!”  Please turn down the sound on the video as it is rather painful to listen to.  After watching please continue with the text below.

Opinion –  some of the very people you observed in the above video are fighting tooth and nail not to have Wharton’s M.A.P. put into place.  You can understand why…………they will lose their playground.  All of the off-road groups, ATVs, dirt bikes and 4 x 4s have a lot of money invested in their equipment, some of which I am sure was purchased just because they could go to Wharton or our other public lands and test it against our precious Pinelands and get away with it. Once the MAP was introduced the social media world lit up with keyboard jockeys typing back and forth to each other into the night until they came up with reasons that they felt they could use to prevent the MAP from going into effect.  Much of the information was fabricated in their own minds because they did not go to the source to find out what the MAP is really about.

Some of the current major complaints –

The MAP was done in secret without public input – the secret part is nonsense. Many groups and clubs along with other State agencies were informed that it was being worked on, including Jeep Jamboree.  The Forest Fire Service worked hand and hand with Wharton personnel in developing the proposed MAP to insure public and fire fighter safety. When has it become necessary for the Superintendent of the Forest or the Forest Fire Service to consult the public about how to save the forest from abuse and fire prevention?

The MAP is closing too many roads – NOTHING is being CLOSED!  Every trail or path proposed for closure is available to hiking, equestrian pursuits and biking.  There will 225 miles of roads going through all the major parts of the Wharton Forest that motor vehicles will have access to.  Some of the numbers quoted by those opposing the plan are erroneous and over stated. An interesting fact is that Yosemite National Park with its 761,266 acres and $70,000,000 (this is 70 million with an M, Wharton’s maintenance budget is roughly $40,000 a year, that is thousands with a T for TINY) budget has just 214 miles of motor vehicle access.  Many of the so called “roads” are not roads to start with, they are fire push lines and old logging trails.  For years the off-road groups called everything in the forest “trails” now they have renamed them all “roads” so their cause looks more impressive.  Many of the areas discussed for closure to motor vehicles lead to nowhere or go to highly sensitive areas like wetlands, endangered species habitat, river access that has been abused and needs protection.  There is only one case, that I am aware of, where the trail slated for closure is a mile long. There is no state or federal forest that I know of that does not have areas closed to motor vehicles to keep the areas more natural for enjoyment of the public and the wildlife.  Hunters like those areas because the game is not spooked by noisy off-road vehicles and it limits access giving them a more enjoyable hunting experience. In such areas horseback riders do not have to be worried about horses being spooked by off-road vehicles traveling in their riding areas. 

The MAP was developed so certain groups would control the forest – Nonsense! All organizations that work within the State Forest have to have permits and obey guidelines set by State Forest regulations. There are no exceptions. 

Roads that are being repaired are being done improperly – Since when did everyone become an engineer?  The roads are being repaired with local materials and the materials that are needed to do the job correctly. The Fire Service is in charge of doing the repairs and they are making the roads safe for use by the general public and for first responders and fire safety. So many roads have been damaged beyond normal use that it is going to take quite some time to get them open and in usable condition and, then, maintain them.

The people who are not responsible for the damage to the forest and its roads are being punished for the work of a few – I would first disagree that the damage is being done by the work of a FEW!  But……..YouTube is absolutely covered with video after video of 4 x 4 jeep  types, ATVs and dirt bikes raising holy hell in the Pinelands and Wharton State Forest in particular.  That is not a FEW, that is called MANY.  That being said how do we tell the bad guys from the good guys.  If I put 1000 off-roaders of all types in a room and on a table we had 500 white hats and 500 black hats and asked everyone to pick the hat they should wear we would be short 500 white hats. We can’t tattoo them either. So with all the experience everyone claims to have in the woods they must have seen some illegal activity going on at one time or another.  The best bet is to report it immediately.  Get a license plate number, take some photos or video and call 1-877-927-6337  and report the incident and your location (necessary as Wharton is a large area).  Even if they cannot get there in time to stop the problem there is a record of that call and the location can be monitored in the future.  Another alternative is to gather the information and file a complaint against the person doing the damage in the township in which it is occurring.  It is not an easy process but it can be, and has been, done, if you are concerned enough you will make the effort to do so yourself.

They are cutting down trees to block off areas – Yes, a small amount of trees have been cut to block areas, it is standard forestry practice for areas where there is no other choice.  Also, there has been some suggestions that the volunteer group that helps Wharton State Forest cut trees down.  Not true! I started the early initiative for volunteers and was present for every volunteer day but one (when trails were remarked for hiking) and no volunteer cut down a tree nor even touched a chain saw.

What to do?  There several areas that just about everyone can agree on.

  1. The forest has been abused and is in need of serious repair.
  2. Not everyone using the forest is creating the problems.
  3. There are currently all the laws needed to prosecute abusers.
  4. The forest is not adequately patrolled by the NJ Park Police.

Hopefully the volunteer group will be able to address  #1 where possible.  So others are invited to apply to be part of the volunteer group. # 2 and #3 watch for and report problems as outlined above. #4 present your proposal to the New Jersey Park Police on how they can more adequately protect our forest.

Once the M.A.P. becomes part of the landscape in Wharton I hope similar plans will be put in place with all of our public lands.

Someone once said if you are not part of the solution you are part of the problem.  Or as I would say – :show me your plan!” (about the same as “show me the money”).

If you are not willing to sacrifice a little of your privileged use of our State Forest then you are SELFISH.

 

 

Destruction Sites – Greenwood Wildlife Management Area Rt. 72 Burlington County

“Greenwood WMA” – Rt. 72 –  Burlington County

About this blog: 

WMA stands for Wildlife Management Area, at this site, which I will call the “Staging Site”, WMA should stand for Wild Maniacs Area!

Several months ago I started exploring areas within Greenwood Wildlife Manage Area and was amazed at what I saw.  This area, in particular, has one of the most astounding locations of trash in the Pine Barrens that I have seen in a long time.

Location 39.838067/-74.437075 is located .8 miles off of Route 72 in Burlington County, the road on Google earth is called Laurie’s Rd.

On two occasions when visiting this site I found trailers parked in the area with Pennsylvania registrations, one had a dirt bike and an ATV, neither registered in PA or NJ. The one with the machines on it was being searched for by two fellows from Philadelphia.  I ran into a women on Laurie’s Rd who told me she was waiting for her boyfriend and brother who were looking for the trailer they left there the day before.  She was about 100 yards from the entrance to the gravel pit. IMG_0871 IMG_0863

The last occasion was on a Tuesday afternoon when myself and Ryan Rebozo from PPA were surveying the area.  This trailer was empty and all seven riders came barreling down Laurie’s Rd from the direction of Hidden Lakes (subject of another blog). I stopped the first adult rider, there were two adults and 5 kids, and asked if he realized that ATVs were illegal to operate on NJ public lands.  His answer -“yes, so what?” – and off he sped. Here is a video of his trailer.

This area is a small gravel pit that appears to be used to park their trailers and trucks and then take off for the hills (what hills?) and ride and ride some more.  Absolutely no one using this area ever had a trash receptacle in their home, you would think they would have learned how to use one if they had.  Here every conceivable item they don’t have a use for is tossed on the ground.  Every square foot of the margins of this place is a trash heap.  Some of the items found there are matching pairs of boots, shoes and sneakers, clothing of all sorts, beer cans, whiskey bottles, beer cartons, plastic bags, feminine  hygiene items,  condoms, food wrappers, bags of household trash, oil and transmission fluid cans – the list could go on and on.

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Of course there is the usual campfire and cut down trees to fuel it. What is most amazing that is this obviously goes on, unabated day and night during the weekends.  There is a very minor road leading into the place and in one swoop the entire place could be locked down and blockaded.

Here is some more video I shoot, trash and more trash.  Please read below the videos for my request for a guest blogger. Still no takers.

This is a test to see if anyone out there has read this far!!!!!   If anyone who enjoys this type of activity would like to guest blog a post on this site please forward a Word Document to Albert@pinelandsimagery.com, no more than 500 words, and some good jpeg images that show how much you enjoy this activity.  Your text should explain the reason you enjoy running around in your vehicles on ground that is nearly flat and obviously not at all challenging to even a Subaru Forester, and also why you believe its okay environmentally to do so.

Special Post

“A Special Post”

About this blog: Not only are the Pine Barrens under siege by the off-road vehicle devastation it is being threatened in many other ways as well.  A recently released on- line investigative article by The Asbury Park Press, wonderfully written by Todd Bates and graphically captured in photographs and film by Tom Spader is a most read for anyone concerned with not only this environment but any environment.  It is very telling and a warning to us all that we have to stay vigilant if we want to protect our natural heritage. It is possible the print article with be in this Sunday’s edition of the APP.

Please follow this link and feel free to come back and comment here – Good reading!:

http://www.app.com/longform/news/premium/2015/06/22/new-jersey-pinelands-stress/28894731/

Albert

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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901 Cherry Ave, San Bruno, CA 94066

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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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