Off-road Vehicle Abuse
While there are many miles of paved, gravel, and sand roads in the Pinelands for road-legal vehicles, some are not satisfied with staying on these paths. There is a widespread misuse of off-road vehicles (ORV) on the land and in the waters of the Pinelands National Reserve.
The term ORV generally includes all-terrain vehicles (ATV), motorcycles (enduro, dual-sport, motocross), jeeps, trucks, side-by-side utility vehicles, and even jet-skis. We distinguish between illegal abuse and responsible and legal use. There are permitted enduro events, which are technically off-road at times because they operate on fire plow lines and other paths. Enduro events must go through a strict permitting process and are limited to a seasonal window to prevent harm to wildlife. Dual-sport motorcycles are permitted on the legal gravel and sand roads of the Pinelands just like any other registered motor vehicle. ATVs or other types of ORVs are prohibited because of their widespread misuse and danger to the public.
A wetland in the Pinelands severely damaged by illegal ORV use.
Wetland after barriers were put in place to prevent ORVs from entering.
Pinelands wetland damaged by illegal ORV use before the area was restored.
Wetland in the Pinelands after barriers were created to prevent ORVs from entering.
If you think you have seen an improper use of an off-road vehicle or any other type of vehicle, call 1-877-WARN-DEP to report it.
We conduct stewardship projects to install ORV barriers and signs at a variety of special places, like paleo-dunes, intermittent ponds, and riverbanks.
Because of the vast public holdings in the Pinelands, and the fractured pattern of ownership, there are often cases of private landowners taking or encroaching on public land. Sometimes a private property sign is posted on a parcel actually owned by the state or a nonprofit organization. Sometimes it may be as complicated as a garage built partially on public land, or permanent hunting structures or makeshift cabins occupying public spaces.
We try to sort out these issues by involving the proper authorities.
The dumping of trash on public lands is a perennial problem. Some people choose to use open space as a landfill, instead of paying the fees or taking the time to properly dispose of refuse. We help coordinate or participate in large-scale cleanups where many tons of illegal dumping are removed from the land. We also help to address the core issue when possible, which is often an unmonitored vehicle access point close to a paved road.
Trail Creation and Maintenance
The Pinelands, rich in unmarked paths, has relatively few marked, designated trails. This means there is an opportunity to create great hiking or multi-use paths throughout the Reserve. We are working with the State Park Service and the Division of Fish and Wildlife and NJ Natural Lands Trust to create more accessible trails throughout the Pinelands.
Other important issues
Other issues pop up that are less common but still problematic. Examples include road millings dumped on a rare plant location or rare plant sites get mowed during the growing season. Sometimes direct habitat interventions are needed, like coordinating with the State Park Service or other agency to open the forest canopy over a rare wildlife like the Pine Barrens Gentian. At times, the State Park Service needs help with simple projects, like boundary marking, creation of backer boards for State Park Signs, or other small projects.