Illegal riding of off-road vehicles is damaging over 300,000 acres of state park, forest and wilderness each year, and is costing the State and taxpayers almost a million dollars each year in damages without the ability to assign that loss to the responsible party.
[+ ZOOM] ORV damage at Black Run Preserve in Evesham Township © PPA
The term ORV is all-encompassing of all-terrain vehicles, motorized sportbikes, motorcycles, minibikes, motor scooters, go-carts, swamp buggies, mopeds, snowmobiles and any other motor-driven vehicle which is not authorized to be licensed by the New Jersey Department of Motor Vehicles for use upon the public highways.
As the popularity of ORV recreation continues to increase and the conflicts between enforcement officials and riders are occurring more frequently, the public needs to be aware of what options are available to prevent ORV use on public and private land. The public and illegal ORV riders also need to understand the destruction that occurs on private property, including farmland, and in some of the rarest and most beautiful wildlife communities in New Jersey.
See latest updates about the siting of a new ORV park in Woodbine, NJ.
ALERT - CLASS I VEHICLES CAUSING DAMAGE IN WHARTON STATE FOREST AND ON OTHER STATE LAND:
NJN News highlighted the damages caused by illegal off-road vehicle (ORV) use in Wharton State Forest in a segment broadcast on August 18, 2010. The damages that continue to scar the Pinelands are a result of the illegal operation of ATVs, dirt bikes and Class I vehicles such as street legal jeeps and trucks. PPA released a comprehensive plan (see below) for addressing Class I vehicle traffic on state lands.
It is important that DEP issue a policy directive to address this class of vehicles and the State agencies and the Pinelands Commission implement the measures as outlined in our plan to curtail the damage.
Check out the Aug. 18, 2010 segment on NJN-TV News, featuring PPA's Russell Juelg:
Off-Roaders Destroy Pine Barrens Habitat
NJN Interviews PPA's Russell Juelg about destruction of Pine Barrens habitat by off-road vehicles.
Dry, upland areas that are habitat for pine snakes and pickering's morning glory are being continually disrupted. Trails have been transformed into dirt bike racing trails. On many farm fields, ORVs are cutting up fields, causing farmers to lose equipment, crops and. of course, money.
At the federal level, congressional hearings were held to discuss the damaging effects of off-road vehicle use on public lands and what action needs to be taken to deter the illegal use and destruction of private and public property. You can read the transcripts from the hearings here:
ORV parks are not the answer to illegal ORV riding. Legislation that requires registration and tagging and increased enforcement is necessary to deter illegal riding and protect private properties and conservation lands from trespassing and destruction. According to a study done in Pennsylvania, illegal riding continues to occur even with hundreds of acres and trails devoted to off-road vehicle riding.
Senator Bob Gordon and Assemblyman Reed Gusciora were the key sponsors of bills S2055 and A823, respectively, which passed the legislature in 2009. Additional sponsors on these bills included Senator Turner and Stack and Assemblymen Wisniewski, Moriarty, McKeon, Greenstein, Rodriguez, and Ramos.
[+ ZOOM] ATV on Private Property in Ocean County © PPA
Bills A823 and S2055 will establish mandatory registration and tagging of off-road vehicles in order to help conservation officers, law officers, and residents hold illegal riders responsible for their damaging activities. The legislation increases fines for illegal riders, creates stricter penalties for repeat offenders, and helps to establish a fund that can be used for the creation of additional ORV parks and maintaining these parks to support those legal, responsible riders.
The provisions of the bills do not take effect until one off-road vehicle park has been "designated". The bill's provisions will take effect three months after this designation, and then two additional parks must be sited within three years. Ideally, these parks should be located in the northern, central and southern parts of New Jersey. The bills also call for siting of these parks on lands owned by the State and not land within existing state parks, forests or conservation lands.
To read the full story about the legislation, visit our newsletter article:
Inside the Pinelands - March 2010
What's at Stake and What You Can Do:
The DEP has purchased a site located in Woodbine in November 2011. You can view the site and read more about the location here. It is now officially designated and open for use.
It is important that DEP Commissioner Martin hears from the public about the urgent need to implement the provisions of the law which includes registering and creating an identification for all vehicles. Please take the time to call DEP and ask them to work diligently on completing the tagging and registering requirements within the 3 month time frame mandated under the law- (609) 292-2885.
If there are concerns in your community, NJDEP has provided a model off-road vehicle sound ordinance, and PPA has a model ordinance for increasing enforcement.
Please feel free to contact PPA with any questions or additional information on off-road vehicle use.