The PPA was recently alerted to a Facebook post by individuals plotting to cut into and destroy pristine Pinelands ponds with off-road vehicles. We confirmed the authenticity of the post and alerted the appropriate authorities. Notably, the organizer of this activity had come to a recent Pinelands Commission meeting claiming to be a responsible off-roader and asked the Commission not to take any action to manage off-road vehicles in Wharton State Forest. In a Facebook post a month after the Commission meeting, this individual discussed how “with just a hare of trimming I could park a deuce in there”, referring to the pristine pond pictured in the post. A “deuce” is a surplus military vehicle that has been used by some off-roaders to cause immense damage to habitat, especially in Wharton State Forest.
See the video clip below for a demonstration what is in store for this pond if the Commission fails to act. This was a pristine wetland in Wharton State Forest.
Here is the statement to the Pinelands Commission given by the same ORV driver who is plotting to destroy this pristine pond.
“I’ve got a bunch of friends like myself who are avid responsible off-roaders, ATV riders, etc a lot of us have machines sitting at home with flat tires and dead batteries because they haven’t been ridden since before spring time. We get out there just to have a little fun. I stay on fire roads, I’m not cutting trails, driving through swamps, but no one wants to go out because they’re afraid of getting fined”
It appears that this individual was deliberately trying to mislead the Commissioners by giving them a false impression of his own activities and of the DEP’s current response to the continuing reign of destruction. In fact, the state Park Police do not have anywhere near the resources that would be needed to monitor all the places vehicles are harming in Wharton State Forest, much less the rest of the Pinelands’ public lands. They cannot do it alone. One thing they need is an official designation of which sand paths are real roads, where it is lawful to drive, and which are unlawful. Truly responsible drivers and the Park Police need a clearly defined map to guide visitors, enforcement and the creation of signs and barriers to protect the most sensitive sites from damage. Without these measures, some individuals will continue to wreak havoc on critically important habitat in the Pinelands National Reserve and Wharton State Forest. Inaction is not an option and we need to let the Commissioners know the importance of this issue.
We are going to solve this problem, but we need your help. Some of those responsible for this damage are coming to these meetings in an effort to thwart protections and we need you there to speak up for wildlife and habitat that can’t speak for itself.
Come to the Pinelands Commission on December 9th at 9:30am and demand a map to protect critical habitat from off-road vehicles.
Pinelands Commission Address: 15 Springfield Rd # C, Pemberton, NJ 08068