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ORV Riders Plot to Destroy Pristine Ponds while Commission Fails to Act



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


12 responses to “ORV Riders Plot to Destroy Pristine Ponds while Commission Fails to Act”

  1. Lori D says:

    I recently moved from NJ because of issues going on in the Pine Barrens. My family has hunted in those woods where it is allowed their whole life, I agree about the ATV’s and the motorcycles. But why make it difficult for the people that have been keeping the deer population at bay with no trouble until now. The police should be focusing on the violators not on the men and women who obey the law and use the land they way it was back in the day.

    • Jason Howell says:

      Hi Lori,

      We totally agree that deer hunters and other Pine Barrens enthusiasts should be able to continue to enjoy the land as they aways have. We also need to ensure that we keep these places beautiful, enjoyable, and functional as part of the ecology. This is both for the benefit of the citizens and visitors to the Pine Barrens as well as the ecological community. Hunters are very familiar with the concepts of good stewardship and management and part of that stewardship is defining where motor vehicles should and should not travel. We think they should only travel on roads and not in sensitive wetlands, dunes, or on ancient geological features such as Jemima Mt and others.

  2. Bonnie Finch says:

    The noise and litter are only a few problems. Keep them away.

  3. Gary J. says:

    Trail Cameras will provide the evidence to prosecute!!!!!

    • Jason Howell says:

      Hi Gary,

      Unfortunately, NJ DEP has refused to accept video footage from the public as evidence in these cases. We need preventative measures such as physical barriers and vehicle buffer areas to the most sensitive habitat.

  4. If the off-roaders who are destroying these habitats want to point fingers at the people who are making motorized vehicle bans in Wharton inevitable, they should look in the mirror. These destructive people are ruining a good thing for NJ’s law-abiding taxpayers.

  5. Donna Pfeffer says:

    What happened to teaching our children to respect nature? That goes for all!
    It is a privilege to have a green space, we need to keep it that way!

  6. Jon Holcombe says:

    Nan, do you have any idea how long it would take to walk into remote areas of Wharton Forest? Most areas would become permanently inaccessible to everyone except bikes and horsebike riders, or campers, or people with three days to kill. Driving on legal roads does not destroy the forest. Unless you want to turn Wharton forest into a tree museum, banning motorized vehicles is an extreme idea. And by the way, I drive (legally) into the forest and hike for miles, with a 30 lb photo backpack.

    • Jason Howell says:

      Jon, it is important to note that the policy being pursued here is an effort to keep vehicles on the original roads of the Pine Barrens. Large wilderness areas(where motors of any kind are prohibited) do exist in the United States and have been enjoyed for decades by thousands of hikers, hunters, and photographers, but that is not what we are pursuing here.

  7. Jon Holcombe says:

    Al, I am a recent member of NJPB, but I absolutely do no represent or speak for them. I mention this because I’ve followed this issue on that forum. Having said that, it seems to me that most of the prominent members of that forum seem to agree that ORV is illegal and the people who are driving off-road (not on legal roads), need to get caught. They also seem to think that without strong police presence, all other solutions will be necessarily ineffective. Where I differ with the PPA is a belief that I want continued access to existing roads. Like you, I am photographing the Pinelands National Reserve. But hiking into the far reaches of Friendship and the Tulpehocken, etc, without using existing roads, would make getting to those areas far more than a 1 mile hike. Like you, seeing ORV damage infuriates me. I see the comments made by ORV enthusiasts and “Jeep Jamboree” members on these blogs, and youtube, etc, and feel my hackles rise. I am by nature a conservationist, a former boy scout, who believes in leaving no visible sign that I was ever in the woods. We need a definitive map of legal roads, and more police presence, whether it’s Park Police, State Police, or local police.

  8. Nan says:

    why does every protected area have to have motors ? Can’t there just be one place in New Jersey where motors are not allowed ?
    I find off roaders talk a good game but tear up trails — they should get off there seats and go for a walk in the quiet. Not everyplace needs to be motorized.

  9. This double speak by the off-road community is commonplace. I have never been to any meeting where they don’t portray themselves as just plain old folks driving around the Pine Barrens for a Sunday drive, abiding by all the rules, obeying the guides lines of Tread Lightly, picking up trash and, this is the best part, they are conservationist! The next thing you know they are on Facebook or YouTube showing off their abilities to wreck havoc on the Pine Barrens with their dirt bikes and 4 x 4s.

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