Pine Barrens Under Siege

Our Public Lands are Being Devastated

Previously a vernal pool

Previously a vernal pool

When you think of our state forest, wildlife management areas (WMAs), Green Acres properties, private conservation preserves you may envision open fields, grassy meadows, tranquil streams, beautiful stands of native trees, all protected and out of harm’s way with the exception of, perhaps, forest fires.  This is not what my colleague and I have found during our recent, and on-going, tours of public lands, all locations visited were within the Pine Barrens.

Construction debris

Construction debris

Our mission was, and is, to record locations damaged by abusive operators of 4 x 4 Jeep type vehicles, dirt bikes, ATV (all considered off-road vehicles) and serial trash dumpers, all illegal activities.

There is pervasive eco-carnage going on day and night in our public lands.  We have begun identifying locations within our public lands that have been vandalized by these land assaulters and what we’ve found is quite astounding. Keep in mind that once we started our project we logged 115 locations that have been violated in a very short period of time. I can assure you this is only the tip of the iceberg. We have an additional long list of locations to visit from information gleaned from state and local officials plus our extensive personal knowledge.

031 05.08.14 site 023

Power Line Right-of-Way

Below is what we have found while conducting our surveys:

  • Hundreds (this could be more like thousands of acres once we calculate the size
  • Mucking up the wetlands

    Mucking up our wetlands

    of the areas damaged) of acres of public lands have been driven over by these motorized bandits as if our public lands are their personal Mad Max movie set. The vegetation, soils and waterways have been damaged, in many cases permanently, by erosion, compaction, crushing and deforestation. Noise pollution and fragmented wildlife habitat are also in the mix.

  • Ecologically valuable wetlands, vernal pools (breeding grounds for amphibians), open meadows, ice age formed hills and sand dunes, and stream beds have been forever damaged.
  • Thousands upon thousands of acres of our public lands are no longer accessible
    Mud Hole/Wallow

    Mud Hole/Wallow

    to the general public because these off-road machines have rendered them impassable to travel by normal vehicles. The mud holes and wallows that have been created by these off-road vehicles are now new breeding grounds for mosquitos.

  • Public utility right-of-ways are almost entirely unprotected and are havens for off-

    ATVs in the Pine Barrens

    roaders, wheelers, mudders and dumpers of trash.  We haven’t found one right-of-way that hasn’t been abused.

  • They practice a form of recreational bulldozing day and night, usually in groups. Consumption of large quantities of beer and open fires are common, even when our forest are under fire restrictions (just about every site we have visited is littered with beer cans and has the charred remains of a fire).
  • Organized 4 x 4 clubs from Maryland to New York routinely visit our state

    Dirt Bike In Pine Barrens

    forest and public lands. They act like a squad of Marines going on a mission, big trucks, big tires, beefed up suspensions (no expense is spared) – their enemy is our public lands. There are organized competitions, many of which are sanctioned by state authorities, with hundreds of

    25126d1288192007t-pine-barren-pics-lining-up[1]

    Organized 4×4 Clubs

     participants. Some of these outings are sponsored by commercial for profit organizations where they pay a nominal permit fee, are not required to post any type of bond or insurance for damage they may cause and take their profits home.
  • Dumping is routinely practiced by contractors, landscapers and the general public.  Often the same areas are used again and again.  You don’t have to travel very far on any back road to find a dump site. I have seen more than one boat discarded in the woods.
Construction and Household Trash

Construction and Household Trash

All of our work has been within the Pine Barrens, a.k.a. Pinelands National Reserve, a most sensitive ecosystem that is recognized as a national and world wide treasure. Our goal with this study is to generate public awareness of this out of control land grab and return our public land to the public and out of the hands of a chosen few who use our lands as their own personal giant sandbox or profit making ventures.

The main reason our public lands have come to be known as a type of motor sports park or arena is that the DEP and the Pinelands Commission have for years issued permits for motor sport events, ORV events. This practice has created a culture among many that only see the Pine Barrens as their personal off-road vehicle (ORV) playground.  It would not be unreasonable to think that many of the off-road vehicles sold in this region are bought especially to off-road in the Pine Barrens.  New Jersey is the only state in this region that allows motor sport activities in state parks and public lands. Maryland, Delaware, New York and Pennsylvania to do not allow ORV events in state parks. Thus the reason So. Jersey gets so much ORV traffic from out of state – they can’t do it in their state.  What is more annoying ORV events are only staged in the So. Jersey Pinelands. These events are not permitted in Stokes State Forest, High Point State Forest, Round Valley Recreational Area or Spruce Run Recreational Area, just to name a few Northern State Parks that seem exempt for this activity.

On this site we will post a “Destruction Site” blog page regularly (see Destruction Sites in sidebar) showing images and/or video of the destruction occurring in one of the many areas we have exposed.  You will be advised exactly where each site is with the GPS numbers and a description of the damage we found there and what types of flora and fauna are located there.

You can get involved, too, by reporting any motor vehicle damage or dumping you observe to 877-927-6337 (carry this number in your purse or wallet). The number is a Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) hotline where you can report violations of dumping and motor vehicle abuse. As shown in the video below.

 

Also, please pass this blog on to anyone you feel is deeply concerned about our public lands. Sign-up to follow our blog so as we update you will be notified of new post while the mission continues.

Upsetting Video – this video is a compilation of videos taken from YouTube.  The people responsible for the damage being done in our public lands are very proud of what they have accomplished, some even call themselves conservationist.

 

 

 

90 thoughts on “Pine Barrens Under Siege

  1. So, what part of this blog contains information about SPIKES??? Have you read this or are you just overly sensitive to the same internet false hype that many others are?

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  2. laying down spike strips to prevent offroad vehicles from exploring is highly illegal and extremely dangerous. if the administrators of this site knew better, they’d realize that the legal activity of most highly outweighs the illegal activities of a select few. the day that someone is hurt by a spike strip or a sever accident caused, the tree huggers of this state will have a fun lesson learned…hope you trip and fall on one next time you’re out trying to stop people from having a little fun, bunch of losers!!!!

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  3. Glad I could help you! I am sure the Park Police will be overjoyed at your arrival. You are right, I don’t UNDERSTAND how people, no matter how little they are tuned into to the world, can just blatantly destroy an international recognized rare ecosystem! Glad I am not part of the team.

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  4. Thanks for the highlight video. I had no idea there was so much fun to be had in the Pine Barrens! Watch out Pine Barrens, here I come!

    I hate when people spend this much time and effort to protest and stop others from participating in activities they don’t understand. The world would be a better place without you.

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  5. “Yes, there is a large concentration of off road vehicles in the Pine Barrens, particularly Wharton, but that is because most other legal places in New Jersey have been shut down, once again by a select few irresponsible people ruining good things for everybody.” Where were these legal places??? Don’t your words …large concentration of off-road vehicles….. mean anything. Wharton can’t take all the supposed good traffic!
    “…..as a means as hauling out trash that the select few dump and to repair and maintain roads to keep them passable by the average person in the average vehicle.” Everyone who cares about the forest picks up the trash there, I personally do it every time in in the woods and have participated in many many clean-ups. It is tiresome to hear that the 4×4 community is so diligent about picking up trash – it is not such a big deal, believe me. And, where are these road repairs that have been done? I sure have never seen them. Do the 4×4 clubs have a front-end loader or HD graders necessary to repair the roads? Or are you calling making more intrusive go-around road maintenance. Nearly all the sand roads in the Pinelands are not usable, unfortunately, by the average person. That is one of the problems. If the average person could get into the Pinelands there would be huge backlash about all the needless 4×4, dirt-bikes and illegal ATV’s traffic. It is not implied that all 4×4’s are causing the damage, and never has been. You need to read more closely.

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  6. Whoever is in charge of this website is incredibly ignorant. I agree that the damage and abuse is completely unacceptable, however the writer of this website skips over one key fact: that this is caused by a select few, most of them riding illegally. The vast majority of 4×4 owners just want to experience the wonders of the Pine Barrens just like the rest of us, and responsibly and legally use their 4×4 vehicles as a means of doing so. The vast majority of 4 wheel drive vehicle owners and legal off road motorcycle riders are responsible and do their best to tred lightly. Yes, there is a large concentration of off road vehicles in the Pine Barrens, particularly Wharton, but that is because most other legal places in New Jersey have been shut down, once again by a select few irresponsible people ruining good things for everybody. You are trying to punish the off road community as a whole for the actions of a select few dumbasses. It is also important to keep on mind that many of these 4×4 clubs that you are speaking so badly of share your view on the matter and are gathering and are using their 4x4s, that you wish to completely ban, as a means as hauling out trash that the select few dump and to repair and maintain roads to keep them passable by the average person in the average vehicle.

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  7. Wondering if the AMA had State approval to call the Pinelands National Reserve a motorcycle park and if they approved of dirt bikers cutting single tracks through the woods, as well. May the truth live on brother!

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  8. I think you should check your records. The pine barrens was listed as a motorcycle park by the American Motorcycle association before you Scumbags took it away from All of us responsible off road riders it was solely used for dirt bikes and dirtbikes only races were held and trails were maintained for decades there was no dumping when we were there and all the trails were made by Dirt bike riders good people that cut trails and cleaned them. You guys came in because of a scumbag named Dick Amper, Get your facts straight ! Everyone knows the real Truth that lives here !

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  9. The pine barrens are public land and people should be able to use the land how they want to in a responsible manner. If people want to ride legal dual sport bike or take their 4X4 trucks four wheeling they should be able to. This types of activities are a way of life and no tree hugger should be able to say otherwise. If you do not enjoy these types of activities don do them, but you have no right to stop other people from doing them.

    From what I have recently seen by the bulldozing of the pine lands it’s all about the money. It appears the it is perfectly acceptable to build houses and strip malls but not ride legal motorcycles or drive 4X4 trucks in the pine barrens.

    In a free society people have the right to do what they want and for a small group of people to say that the majority can’t is wrong.

    The bottom line is that if you do not like dual sport riding or four wheeling that is your opinion and that is fine. But, you do not have right to stop someone that does like those activities.

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  10. Aside from creating excessive noise, running at speeds in excess of the posted speed limit, chasing others off the road, and many members of the fraternity illegally cutting single tracks into the woods wherever they desire, dirt bikes do in fact also damage the landscape. So after I take you to some sites that dirt bikes have destroyed, or assisted in the destruction of, are you going to publish a statement, that I can publish here and release to the press, that dirt bikes do in fact create damage to the environment? Showing you the damage is not a difficult chore it, is what you do with that information to help prevent continued damage from being done to our environment that counts.

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  11. Albert I keep hearing you talk about dirt bikes causing large amounts of damage.
    I am in the pines at least once a week and I don’t see it. So I would like to meet with you at the atsion office and who can take me to the areas that you say are damaged by motor cycles. Please email me with a date and time thanks tony

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  12. Wow! you have lost me with your interpretation of my words! Don’t have a clue where you are coming from. I guess you read differently then I. Also, why don’t you use your name when addressing such serious matters, I would think you would like to have everyone you know realize where you stand.

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  13. To quote you Al from your previous post “As for the roads, they are being destroyed so much that the general public, the people who pay the bulk of the tax burden for these places, no longer have use of them, and won’t for a very long time.” what are you trying to say here? That well to do people don’t drive 4×4 trucks and enjoy the forest? That only people with money are allowed to enjoy the forest? I can tell you this, my funds out way yours so you can take your elitist attitude and put your money where your mouth is. I have supported protecting the State Forest financially numerous times through donating to the PPA but I can tell you that will never happen again, I expect more from a PPA member like yourself.

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  14. This site/video is a joke and making a huge dramatic case out of people enjoying themselves and THEIR land, OUR land, not yours. Would you rather they did drugs or commit real crimes? Since when has Jamima Hill been accessible by anyone other than on foot? Some tire ruts doesn’t stop hikers from visiting. Tire ruts don’t stop a hill that big from being a hill. Since when has anyone accessed some of the areas that these “mudders” access until those of you preservation people found out about them? Quarter mile bog is exactly that, a bog of mud. So it has tire tracks in it now, so what! Angry that people have a hobby that involves enjoying nature? Jealousy that these guys can access areas you can’t? So we block off these areas.. then what, they sit unaccessible forever? When has anyone really spoke of a “vernal pool” until recently? (A MAP supporter term because they have no better offense) Ozone issues, pollution, crime… yes.. lack of vernal pools? Give me a friggin break. Yes the trash and dumping is a problem, but four wheeling and enjoying areas that regular motor vehicles can’t access anyway isn’t! Get over yourselves and find a hobby, just like these people have.

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  15. I find your response rather cryptic. Are you saying to let the off-roads have their fun but charge them a fee to do so? If so how much money do you charge for repairs to damage that you have no idea what it will be? What is the charge for roads that are dug out deep enough to have water in them year around because they have reached into the upper layers of the aquifer? How do you repair the clay layer of a vernal pool that took many many years to form, thus creating the vernal pool. Who is going to monitor all of this. There aren’t enough people in the forest service or the park police now. What is the amount to be charged based on these unknowns. How do you collect the money. I hope I have misunderstood your point and you can clarify. The state does NOT have any areas aside for off-roading that I am aware of.

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  16. I think you miss the point of use of public lands. These Wildlife Management Areas are public areas paid by hunter and fisherman licenses. Except for the state parks where the state has set up areas for off roading. Lets see how that works. They are meant for hunting fishing and nature activities. I cant understand why no one gets this. NO I am not a tree hugger but raised on conservation principals set up by Teddy Roosevelt who most have no idea of who he is. I understand 4 wheeling because I use too in my younger days. But these lands are becoming over burden by use of off road use. Ruts created and trash left behind. This is not use of our natural resources. I see it daily since I walk these areas. The answer is let them pay for the use so they can be managed like they were set up for. We forget that they are set aside for nature and to remain in their natural state. WISE USE OF OUR RESOURCES!!!!!!!!!!!!! Maybe the Jersey Devil will have the last say in all of this…….. Again, this is New Jersey where so few have common sense!!!!!!!! I get it..

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  17. It’s the ideas she actions like these that ruin family and friendly memories that had taken place in areas such as the pinebarrens. Me and my friends and family have lots of connections with the Wharton forest. These include hunting, off roading and camping. All of these have been done responsibly and have never had problems with anything due to any damage in the woods. But since nowadays everybody wants everything to be right and nothing to be fun anymore it makes it harder for us to make more memories due to whiney tree huggers. This plan will fire nothing but make more, and even worse trails in the woods going around the blockades you fun suckers put in place.

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  18. Instead of closing state lands. Nj should do what other states do and issue permits for atv’s and dirt bikes to ride. The state is missing out on revenue because people have to go to pa and other states to ride.

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  19. You want to blame off-roaders for the destruction of the pine Barron’s ? The garbage you show is construction debri most likely from a law breaking local contractor not an off-roader . The boats in 20 years I have never seen someone tow a boat in there to go off-roading with . If you want the real destruction of the pine Barron’s why don’t you point your finger towards K-Hovnanian who purchased thousands of acres to bulldoze and build homes they are the true destructor of the pinebarrons. The people I have wheeled with are responsible people who take their garbage with them when they leave . We would have weekends where we drove around and pulled illegal garbage dumped there and remove it on our dime. You try to make us look bad posting this kind of stuff your a fool. Show me the environmental study done on the property K-Hov destroyed let me give you a tip it doesn’t exist. Do you realize most of the puddles and mud holes are rain water not stream fed ? You should really do your homework before you post stuff like this .

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  20. There are too many people worrying about stupid things. Save the earth, save our parks, save save save. People enjoy the pine barrens with camping, hiking, off roading, dirt bikes, etc. its a part of life. To enjoy the great outdoors. Have fun. You cant ban people from these things. The activists should go somewhere else. To much complaining will not get you any where in life. They should worry about saving the trees, or saving the animals. Get real real, smokey the bear.

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  21. I regularly dirt bike ride the pine barrens and I have a lot of respect and love for nature .
    We ride established fire cuts and right of ways and never cut new trails. All we are doing are keeping those fire cuts and trails open. I have over 25k invested in my hobby and will never just give it up. Nation wide and in NJ its a popular sport that’s gaining ground with younger generations. Its not going to go away. Nature groups need to step up and help create ORV riding areas instead of opposing them every time one is designated . In the end both parties will benefit . As for the dumpers they need more cameras to put an end to this activity . I recently reported dumpers illegal construction debris in an area I frequent. They ruin things for everyone.

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  22. Dual Sport riding is not a crime and everyone riding a motorcycle isn’t doing damage. Catch and punish offenders and leave the rest of us alone. At one time we were clearcut all the way to the Ohio River. Lumbering. Farming. Charcoal industry. Iron furnace and forge. The forest came back…look at the trees…all new growth. The audacity to think that you can save the planet by depriving people the use of certain roads and areas. This planet was here millions of years before you and will be here for millions of years after man is extinct. You should get a hobbie and leave others alone.

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  23. The key word here is “public” lands. State and federal tax money go into maintaing these public lands so who are you to decide how people can enjoy them. Illegal is illegal wether you are in the woods or on the street. You don’t close a road to all vehicles because drivers routinely break the law in that area. It ‘s called enforcement of the law and my access to my public land with my fully legal “ORV” shouldn’t be arbitrarily restricted because it’s easier to just close off sections. Why should I pay the price for people who use Wharton irresponsibly and/or illegally. It’s well know that some groups would love to and are working on banning all motorized vehicles from Wharton so they can enjoy it the way they see fit. I take great offense in being profiled and having my civil liberties violated because I ride a dual sport motorcycle . The state forest isn’t just for hiking and taking pictures.
    See you on the trails ,
    Joel Robert

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  24. To the best of my knowledge nothing has been closed off to walking, bicycling or horse back. I have run into more than a few areas that are favorite photographic locations of mine that are now closed off. I will now plan my day around walking in. Would rather have to do that then watch the next new area of destruction along one of our precious rivers started because they just needed a new place to bulldoze.

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  25. I went to take the family out in the Wharton state this weekend only to find out that our usual spot is now closed off. After trying several spots we turned around. I stopped at the ranger station and was told it’s due to the ORV abuse and a map is in the works????? I know my Saturn Vue is all wheel drive but it’s hardly an ORV. I think the only time these roads have puddles on them is when it’s actually raining. I’m not sure who to be more angry at. The idiot four wheelers tearing up somewhere in the woods or you and your self righteous volunteers closing roads with little to no damage. And to top it off on our way home down 206 there was a truck pulling a trailer out of the woods loaded with a quad and dirt bike. ON STATE LAND!!!!!
    Sally, it’s good you live in Vermont. Growing up I enjoyed the woods much like you did. Now to give my family the same experience I have to break the law.

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  26. You know Al,I don’t know you and realy don’t care to.Your an extremist!because of people like you the country is like it is! Yep,I have one of those big tire illegal trucks that as you say are destroying the pinelands!!!You say that most of the roads are not passable by a stock 4×4.So how do the rangers get through these so called impassable roads??I have been 4wheeling in the pines since the mid 70’s and some of the roads are better now then back then, westmill rd is one of them,Yes,there are idiots out there that don’t stay on the road and make there owen way witch makes me crazy!!But you have that everywhere you go.We can’t keep taking things away from the responsible people because of a few bad seeds!!We have to work together not against each other!!!!!! 4wheeling has been around for many years all over the country and it’s not goin away! I can’t see how driving through the woods goiin through some mud holes that been there for 30 years plus is destroying
    the pinelands.You should start at the water runoff of rt 206 of all the oil from that comes out of the asphalt evertime it rains and gets washed in to the wet lands!!You have a few good points but like i said,we need to work together!!!!!!!

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  27. Thanks for the thoughtful comments. Your ideas are exactly what I would like to see happen, but, unfortunately, this is the hardest piece of the puzzle to put in place. There is a lack of will in law enforcement, at the present, and lack of personnel. Thankfully that can and, I think will, change in the future.

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  28. The only thing I have ever seen work initially in these circumstances is fining people who are actually doing something unlawful. Money Talks. I know education is ultimately the goal but hitting the responsible people in the wallet in a decent start. If we can just fine those who are doing illegal activities then all those who claim innocence within this blog need not worry. People should be judged by their actions as anyone can say anything–we all have brains and mouths. So if you are not doing anything wrong, you need not worry–If we just make it our beginning goal to go after and fine those who actually are.

    SugarSand Sam

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  29. Why do you care about the power line right-of-ways? The power company routinely kills all the vegetation along those stretches every couple of years to keep them open, so what if people drive along them? Some of your pictures of “devastation” are power line roads that would be cleared anyway, not forests that have been destroyed.

    I do agree with you that much of the forest is no longer accessible, but I don’t agree that the main problem is deep puddles made by Trucks. State and local governments have been putting up barricades and setting huge fines for trespassing as a result of people like you complaining. Mud puddles are easily fixed; government taking away people’s access to the land is not. Your efforts to keep people you don’t like out of the forest are going to result in all of us being shut out.

    As for the trash dumping, that is not a recent phenomenon. The pinelands have been a dumping ground for stolen cars, old boats, contractor trash, dead bodies, and so on since at least the 70’s, probably long before that. I really wish government would put more resources into catching the people responsible for dumping rather than chasing kids on ATVs.

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  30. Can’t wait to go mudding this weekend. Hope to bury my truck in a nice deep thick gooey mud hole 🙂

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  31. Many of the motorcycles you show in the video are street legal. It is not illegal for a motorcycle that is properly registered to drive through the pine barrens. Also I participated in a “Group Trail Ride” last year where we spent the entire day cleaning up the trash and dumping that is a much more bigger issue than 4×4 travel. You may feel like you know a lot of what is going on but you really have no idea.

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  32. This is deeply disturbing. I started visiting the Pine Barrens in the late 1960’s with a Volkswagen Beetle and in the early 1970’s a 1962 International Scout. Just to cruise dirt roads to see the natural beauty and to visit historical sites that I had read about. By 1980 I lived in Tabernacle to be closer to the Pines. Then married, my husband and I drove the Pines in one of the new 4×4 Subarus. We spent weekends collecting trash at places like Oswego Lake and many, many “party” sites along the rivers. We took bags full of trash to the Atsion ranger station. The rangers got to know us.

    At day’s end of our trash collecting expeditions we parked at a river spot to drink beer and swim. The rangers never bothered us.

    By 1986 the Pine Barrens destruction was beginning as more people bought 4×4 trucks. Here and there one could see sensitive bog land torn up by big trucks. We finally moved to Vermont in 1986 partly because the Pines were overrun by obnoxious people, and our wonderful beauty spot was becoming a disaster.

    I still love the Pines. A few years ago we rented a cabin at Atsion Lake for a week to visit family. I was surprised to see park police. I also saw hordes of off road trucks gathering at the Atsion ranger station and much ruin in the forest. It’s tragic. Our “neighbors” in the next cabin arrived and paddled over to us as we sat lakeside. they said they were there for a week and invited us over for beer. ( we didn’t). My family came to stay. Included were my 3 year old and 5 year old great nieces.

    Our neighboring group were 15 people in a cabin meant for 8 people. They partied 24 hours a day. Not our business, but their music played at top volume, much shouting, loud laughter and liberal using of the F word. Someone had a pit bull (of course) that constantly ran through our area. After 3 nights we asked them to quiet down late at night. They didn’t. By the 4th night we called the park police, who threw out half the mob. (Due to the restriction of the number of people per cabin). Those asked to leave came back later at night and burned their tires in front of our cabin.

    The next morning we saw a thick, long trail of burnt rubber on Atsion Road. We called the park police again. They saw the skid marks as well. The police told those remaining that they would be removed if they (police) received one more complaint.

    This sort of “I don’t give a f**K” attitude belongs to the ilk who despoil the Pinelands.
    I don’t like a lot of rules and laws but when our very ecology is being destroyed and our peaceful enjoyment of our forests is ruined by those who can’t govern themselves, laws need to be created and enforced.

    There are a lot of comments made here in defense of 4 wheelers. Maybe YOUR club abides by common sense and respect, but clearly many don’t. And one bad apple spoils the bunch. If you want to defend the good 4 wheelers you can help by taking photos and license plate numbers of the cretins who don’t care, and turn them in to the authorities. I know I would.

    By the way, when 4×4 trucks were getting off road in the Pine Barrens we were off roading in our Subaru. We did not destroy anything, but Old Stokes Road was part of our route. And we drove through a 60′ stretch of road that was flooded. Water up to the windows. A group of 4 wheelers witnessed one of these crossings-they had their big mudders, all pumped up, and here we came with a small car. Very impressive. No penis envy on our part.

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  33. Thank you thank you thank you thank you!
    Thank you SO much for putting together this extension list of places to go Off Roading, convenient maps and directions on how to get there! I can’t wait til this weekend so I can start exploring these new sites in my new jeep! I would have NEVER known about these places without you!

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  34. Fairly difficult to assess what is going on here unless you “read” the blog and look at all the post and the many more to come. Get yourself out here and I will personally give you the tour.

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  35. I’m not in NJ but the other side of the country and we have many of the same issues and same types of groups/parties involved. I agree that it is horrible that the destruction happens – but there is a reason that so many of the 4×4 people/groups are so adamant that they are not doing these things.
    It is because they do not destroy the environment!
    Most of them will document/report/stop/chase off anyone that they do catch destroying the public lands. Remember this is their land too – and they don’t like seeing that abuse any more than you.

    Don’t believe me? Go find one of the local groups and ask to do a ride along with someone in the group. Most of those groups will welcome you and invite you to participate. If the group is anything like mine – you will hear the same anger at the issues you discussed above.

    So why is there so much evidence of out there when you go out actively documenting bad behavior?
    It is merely a matter of persistence. If some idiot dumps a bunch of stuff on public land – that stuff is there till someone removes it. If some fool goes driving across a swampy meadow and tears up the land – that damage will exist for years unless someone repairs that meadow.

    You brought up the big groups of 4×4 in organized clubs being destructive. I honestly believe you have this backwards. The bigger group runs I have been on are far more conservative – in many ways just out of the logistics. Except in areas where the purpose is “mudding” on private lands or certain areas of off road parks – these groups are focused on overland travel and seeing beauty of the environment. There are exceptions out there – but go spend some time with the people you are demonizing. You will find your perceptions are off.

    You criticized our built up trucks as having a purpose of destroying the land.
    Many of us build our trucks beyond stock – not because we want to go driving over the countryside without regard for the environment but because many of the roads we travel over would be cost prohibitive to maintain for normal vehicles. And we are very sensitive about damaging those roads – because they can quickly become impassable.

    As some others have stated here – you want to focus on a constructive solutions:
    Reduce barriers for these groups to help maintain the land.
    Provide permits that reduce the cost of cleaning up the dump sites. (It costs for us to pick up a dump site and take it to a disposal site – a cost club members usually just pay out of pocket.)

    Work with law enforcement to educate users of the land on how to enhance “citizen” based enforcement of the rules. Teach people how to document and report those who are doing the damage – so that they can be penalized for the damage they cause. (This is a deterrent that has drastically reduced violations because violators caught by anyone (not just a ranger) can be fined for the damage if we provide enough evidence that they can be prosecuted.)

    Talk to you elected representatives about funding for enforcement and maintenance. (The road and park maintenance of national and state lands has not been properly funded in nearly 15+ years as the government has been funding foreign wars and a faltering economy) The last few years out here the national forests have been systematically shutting down 80% of the forest service roads as part of a balanced budget exercise due to the lack of proper funding to maintain them. There are areas of our national forest that will soon be sealed off entirely from public access.

    I guess in the I ask that before you go demonizing the 4×4 and overland community as a whole – reach out and spend some time with them. You were passionate enough about the environment to go out taking pictures to document the damage – I would hope you are passionate enough about the problem to make sure you are identifying that the problem you think needs to be solved is indeed the right problem.

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  36. It is interesting that so few people who do enjoying driving/ riding legally and “responsibly” through the Pine Barrens are willing to acknowledge that there’s a problem. The “hey, it’s not me” and “I pick up trash at least once a year” is not a reasonable response. Presumably the same people who drive responsibly through the Pine Barrens are also thwarted by the destruction, which has made so many areas impassable to even those with basic 4-wheel drive vehicles. You should be f#@king pissed about this and willing to do something. Why isn’t anyone willing to stand up against the destruction? At least Al has the balls to actually shine a light on the issue, even with knuckleheads threatening to assault or kill him. Putting a Tread Lightly sticker on your car isn’t going to do it. Demands for additional law enforcement resources, much heavier fines, new rules for access, and, unfortunately, closing off areas will be required. A relatively small number of off-roaders have ruined it for the majority (the case with so many things in life). So many areas are completely inaccessible to not only the public, but to the Forest Service (to fight fires) and Park Service employees themselves. It’s nonsense and simply wrong. It is not tolerated in other parks and natural areas in NJ and other states. It should not be tolerated here.

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  37. The above remarks from dirt bike and 4X4 riders sounds like the 4 year old caught standing next to a broken cookie jar with crumbs all over their face, “no Mom, I don’t know how the cookie jar got broken.” Every dirt biker I’ve ever talked to denies they would ever go off road and heavens no they would never take chain saws and cut illegal trails all through the woods. Must be the “Jersey Devil” doing it.

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  38. Albert- in response to your reply to Shane- don’t you think if you don’t manager or police ANY area well enough, people will come in and ruin it? whether it be a nice town or a beautiful forest? I can tell you from the hours and hours I’ve spent in Wharton state forest, I have never once seen a ranger patrolling. literally, not once.

    Also, I would hope you would leave out the name of groups that you don’t know about. For the good that Misfits does, it really is sad to see a member having to defend themselves.

    I can tell you right now, most of those groups are your FRIEND not your FOE in this fight. The good some of these people are willing to do to conserve land and help people out is admirable. Most of those dumbasses out there are not part of official clubs at all. Or are part of “groups” started by idiot kids. A lot of what they’re doing in their cars on the actual roads is illegal anyway (drinking, underage drinking) so how about we enforce the law… or did our lack of effor there put us in the position we’re in, now we have to just ban everyone from driving the roads?

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  39. Well Albert, Again, i can agree with what you are TRYING to do here. The idiots that are tearing up off road areas and damaging the ecosystem in the Pines and Wharton State Forest should, and really need to be stopped. But that does not include everyone in a 4×4 vehicle. you yourself are going to the areas in a 4 wheel drive vehicle. What exactly are you hoping to accomplish? There is no legal way to restrict some vehicles and not others. Your efforts will result in simply banning any motorized vehicles throughout the forest completely, yourself included. It will make it impossible for people to take their families or themselves to their favorite swimming spots, fishing spots, hunting spots, etc.
    Again, i back you up fully in an effort to preserve this land, but with the sweeping generalizations that you are making, you are only going to make enemies with every individual in a 4wd vehicle that enjoys the pines . . . and that is almost everyone that goes to the pines including yourself. You will get much farther if you change the tone and nature of your site and posts, and try to partner with those in the 4×4 community that actually enjoy and want to preserve the nature in this area as well. The reason why many groups are saying it is not them, is because most 4×4 groups are run and attended by mature, responsible individuals that don’t want to ruin this for themselves, others, and their future families. The very much understand and promote treadlightly.com and they do not permit people in their group to step outside of the public roadways. The bigger issue are smaller groups of people, or just one offs that unfortunately are reckless. These are the same types of people that speed on a public road, or perhaps drive while intoxicated, or other types of rude destructive ILLEGAL behavior. But we don’t make driving illegal. We don’t outlaw alcohol. We simply have to work together to enforce as much as we can and breed a respectful attitude. Making out every off road enthusiast to be a beer toting, mud ripping, redneck out to destroy as much wildlife as possible is not a respectful attitude. it is simply inaccurate and i think that you know that. Calling individuals “Motorized Bandits” or people who “worship mud” is only going to insult and make enemies with those who are responsible in the offroad community, and going to motivate the idiots, with idiot mentalities that are destructive to be even MORE destructive. you are giving them attention. This is not good.
    Wharton state forest gets very wet, and these roads very often are covered by natural occuring water. the only way to get through is in a vehicle, sometimes that is higher than stock. don’t turn driving through water on a public roadway, into someone that is destroying the eco system. It is a roadway. my apologies that it is inconvenient for you to get places sometime, it is the same for me at certain areas! But that is just what happens. its not a perfect road system. it is covered in water for months out of the year.
    I am simply asking that you take a more reasonable approach, accomplish some good with the help of those in the offroad community that do try to clean this mess up, and don’t get every vehicle, yours included, banned from beauty of the forest. it will become inaccessible. I admire your courageousness for starting this website and protecting this land, just please think about the best way to accomplish this. not just starting a war. nothing good will come from that.

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  40. Shane, thanks for your comments and for following the blog. There are a lot of points to consider here but the first consideration is the land itself. The Pine Barrens is a highly sensitive ecological environment, so much so that the United Nations UNESCO organization deemed it one of 553 heritage biospheres in the world. It is not there to be a motor sports arcade. Certainly there are people who use the area the way that is best for it, driving through it and appreciating its beauty and purpose. Wild areas are for passive recreation and preserved for the greater good. I have spent hours, more like days, surveying areas that have been totally wiped out by off-road abuse and just about everyone who comments on this blog claims it wasn’t them, yet the destruction is there and it was created by someone using a dirt bike, ATV or 4 x 4. These areas were not destroyed by mountain bikes, hikers, canoes, birders, hunters, fisherman, equestrians or photographers like myself. As for the roads, they are being destroyed so much that the general public, the people who pay the bulk of the tax burden for these places, no longer have use of them, and won’t for a very long time. The roads are get destroyed by large groups of dirt bikes, ATVs and 4×4 using them again and again. Many off-roading clubs are caravaning in groups of 5 to 50, or even 60, and it creates a “let me show you what I can do” or ” I bet you can’t do this” attitude. From there the smallest water holes gets opened up becoming a mud wallow that becomes impassable by everyone who does not have a 4 x 4 capable of traversing the sunk/mud hole. It is so bad that major and historic roads in the Pine Barrens are not available for travel. Between the wooded areas and vernal pools that have been ecologically destroyed and the sand roads that have been given the same fate the Pine Barrens, particularly Wharton State Forest, have become an unsightly mess. We should be ashamed of ourselves for letting it get that way. You don’t see this in any of the surrounding state’s forest or wildlife management areas and since it is not permitted there those wanting to wheel and mud and caravan come to N.J. and we as citizens of this state are going to have to foot the bill in the end. We are already paying the price of not being able to enjoy our natural resource.

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  41. If i may . . . i completely agree and respect what you are trying to do here. I agree implicitly with individuals that are ruining land and eco-systems being penalized for such actions. However, your video and many of your posts are not displaying that. The roads that go through the Pines and Wharton State Forest are just that, roads. They are not there for wildlife. they are public roads, no different then the one in front of your house. individuals driving on these are not criminals, they are drivers. The Pines are beautiful and should be protected, but to say that not motor vehicle access to so many areas should be banned is no helpful or realistic.
    As recommended earlier, you may find more success in your cause by partnering with some of these 4×4 enthusiasts. While there are surely some that can be destructive, you will find that most are campers, overlanders, people that enjoy traveling and exploring the country by vehicle. The Pines are a beautiful area with so much to see that wouldn’t be possible by foot. Many of these 4×4 enthusiasts believe strongly in Tread Lightly (also referenced in a previous comment) you should look into them. They are a great group. Most of the forums i frequent for offroad “talk” ban any type of destructive pictures, talk, or anything that involves going off road where it is not sanctioned.
    As i stated before, I am sure there are some that are destructive, that are going off of these roadways and paths, but it is not the vast majority. You do not take away every persons license to drive because there is a small minority that speed on the roadways do you? NO. You work on educating the people that make these indiscretions, and further enforce the area to keep these areas safe. I think individuals that go off the pathways should be penalized. SEVERELY, but you will be punishing a large group of outdoor enthusiasts, people who love that land by trying to ban vehicle access to the Pines.
    We are not monsters, we do not worship mud, the images in your video show very little action that is destructive in any way ( i think i saw 2 clips out of the 20-30 shown). Work WITH these people and i think you will get a much faster action to protect the pines. We don’t want it destroyed either.

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  42. Albert, or to whom this may concern,

    11 seconds into your video. the Pine Lands are being assaulted? That sounds ridiculous. Trash and littering/dumping is one thing, but off-roading vehicles are allowed back there. it’s land that they are allowed to use for their interest and enjoyment. by now you should realize how big of a sport it is ALL OVER THE COUNTRY, not just the pines. If you don’t, I suggest you do your research. I’m an off-road enthusiast myself. I also enjoy the outdoors and the scenery. I can take appreciation for good photography but you can’t say that the land is being “assaulted” by a vehicle that is legally allowed to be back there. Last time I checked the park service did a pretty good job of keep vehicles in check out there. It’s not just about you and your photography being ruined. you need to understand that people enjoy doing this and the real off-roading community only leave tire tracks behind. just like hiking. People use jeeps with lifts and big tires every day to get to new locations for the scenery and taking pictures – not for “destruction” like you think. The world doesn’t revolve around you or what you think is right and wrong. I honestly don’t even think you’re mad at the vehicles. I think you are just upset about the dumping and littering and using off roaders in general to blame for it. That’s not right, It’s ignorant of you to do that. Some people are the ones to blame for the dumping and littering but you can’t blame jeepers and off roading vehicles in general for that. If you really want some good photos, go to Yellowstone. They don’t allow off roading there.

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  43. Your kidding right….seems to me some needed an excuse to ride in the pinebarrens with thier vehicle???? But on another note dumping should be illegal there is no reason for idiots to put trash or leave trash in the pines. That I agree is an issue. Why not use the off roaders to help you report them. Why ask for these clubs to help you in return for the use of the land?? There is always more friendly bees with honey than swatting at them with stupidity. Find another hobby if your not looking at both sides of the pine tree.

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  44. Instead of the attack and generalization, making everyone that owns an offroad/overlanding vehicle seem like a bunch of monsters, you should think about getting all of these people together as a community. Ever hear of “Tread Lightly”? (http://treadlightly.org/). “To promote responsible recreation through education.” Educate, don’t attack. I know of one local pine barrens based offroad group that does regular cleanups of wharton state forest. The land is beautiful, it is our home, its where our trucks roam and our kids play in the bass river on hot days. There are plenty of people that disrespect the land in their vehicles, and in MORE WAYS than that! and there are plenty that drive out there regularly, in groups, that love the land just as much, if not more than you. All street legal vehicles have the right to drive the designated roads. A prius may have to turn around and go the other way when they come upon a puddle, but a jeep could make it through. If you turned this into a positive mission, rather than the extremely biased, attacking negative face it has taken on, you would be surprised how much you could change the way a lot of people treat our home.

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  45. This is a false categorization of off-road and overladning enthusiasts. We love the wilderness as much (maybe more) than some “environmentalists”. We would much rather wilderness lands be used for safe respectable enjoyment then seen then turned into a strip mall. Most of our clubs regularly hold clean-up events for these otherwise forgot places. Most of us also belong to the tread lightly organization which is dedicated to keeping these areas undeveloped and open to public use. Please remove these pictures so that you are using. I am assuming you didn’t ask for the photographer’s permission.

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  46. You need to take our club off your list, Misfits4x4 We do not wheel pine lands. We only wheel privately owned land or off road parks set up for what we do, We are over an hr away from any pine lands that we wheel in jersey, Most of our trucks are to big to be on the street, We do several found raisers a year for MS, CANCER, BOY SCOOTS OF AMERICA, TOUCH A TRUCK FOR JAKE’S PLACE & A few other’s, You really need to do some research on things like this before you slander someone’s name, we have several police officers as Members in our club, You really need to get your facts strait before accusing any one of any thing, What you just did by accusing the misfits club of ripping up pine lands is untrue and illegal and you need to take our clubs name off any thing related to your cause, We do not give you permission to use our club name

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  47. heyyy I’m one of those recreational bulldozers that you call and like pine barrens too and i would love in helping preserve the place i just wanted to let u know that those small dirt bikes and quads don’t do much to the environment unlike trucks but thats not the point in the video their was REGISTERED bike and they WERE STREET LEGAL the even was Pine barrens 500. i apologies that I’m not one of the ppl that likes to stay inside and watch the woods thought the window and then complain about it. i enjoy by riding it. i don’t destroy it i enjoy it theirs a difference well anyway I agree that we should save nature but why do you focus soo much on innocent ppl having fun then contractors etc dumping. if you ask me thats far worse then riding on land and not mentining that rain wind and nature can cover up the trails but trash will stay their for decades. also if anyone cares to show other places to ride that are decent and don’t cost a fortune ill be happy with “all the large groups” to move their except theirs one problem theirs nowhere to ride….. well anyway go outside more then 30 miles away from your home and you’ll see that its not that bad and go on a quad or dirt bike” those bulldozers” and see how enjoyable it is. well anyway thanks
    Kid with a Passion
    speaking for other people with a passion

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  48. Makes me sick! Such beautiful land being abused by uncaring and probably unknowing people. Maybe we need some legislation on the dumping and possible cameras in key locations.

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