All-Terrain Vehicle Problem

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bobpbx

Piney
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Oct 25, 2002
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You might think that I don’t care about the ATV problem as long as I have access to the forest, but that’s not true. It is a huge problem that requires a new paradigm to control it. Yesterday I was scouting the woods north of Wells Mill Park on behalf of the Forked River Mountain Coalition in preparation of our annual cleanup. The first photo above was taken at the old Home Place, where 50 years ago was a wonderful place for fox hunting and music get-togethers. It has been appropriated by ATV groups, as you can plainly see. The second photo is the kind of trash commonly found at one of the open areas where they pull in and park for the day. Have to go #2 really bad? The third photo is their easy solution to that.

These woods have many owners: Ocean County, Forked River Mountain Coalition, New Jersey Conservation Foundation, Department of Environmental Protections, and private owners. The woods have effectively been taken over by trailers loaded with ATVs all weekend. They park wherever they like, and ride wherever they like. Although some of these people have a conscience and hang up a garbage bag or bring along a trash can from home, the place they hang in becomes a shit-hole. Even NJCF seems to have given up in trying to control them, and I completely understand that. It’s infuriating and frustrating.

On one hand, NJCF and PPA have taken the stance that these groups have no right to access the forest. On the other hand, the ATV users want full access. Stuck in the middle are people who want freedom to leisurely roam on existing roads as they’ve always done. Face the facts; ATVs are not going away as long as they are being sold.

I have been a huge proponent of ATV parks. That would not only ease the pressure on the woods, but would generate income to battle the problem. But we all know that is going nowhere, mainly because it’s nobody’s job to find the land and implement them.

This problem is so critical that a big solution is needed. My suggestion would be to create a sub-agency under the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission, and staff it with qualified people who can implement the sub-agencies goals and responsibilities, which could include:

-Develop clear rules and regulations regarding ATVs and UTVs (utility terrain vehicles (side by sides)).

-Negotiate with land owners for ATV park land. Investigate State owned land that would be suitable for ATV parks. Work with contractors to run parks.

-Maintain a task force of knowledgeable Agency police officers to handle problem areas where ATVs are overrunning private and public land.

-Create agreements with landowners who own large land tracts that will allow enforcement by the sub-agency at any time.

-Determine sources of income for the sub-agency, such as fees at point of sale, fines for scofflaws, and ATV park fees.
 

Broke Jeep Joe

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Mar 8, 2006
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I agree its is completely infuriating and frustrating on several fronts. Its frustrating to new owners of the ATV's who are uneducated of NJ law and purchase them with no guidance from the dealer or seller as to where they can legally be used, which is nowhere in the state forest or adjoining lands. The states broken promise of areas to ride infuriates and frustrates people into breaking the law and thinking that gives them right to do so, which frustrates and infuriates people that do abide the law, do clean up the land and crap that these folks leave behind. It is the main standpoint of organizations such as the NJCF or PPA to soapbox "damage" and push to close areas, roads and access in general which infuriates just about everybody.
I agree with Bob's stance here 100% in that a big solution is needed. Pennsylvania, granted a much larger state, has this down to acceptable terms for their forests, maybe a model of that structure would work, I don't know. I do like the outline above of an agency to admin the whole thing. I think something big is coming and its not a resolve we will all like.
 
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Leewardian

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Jan 2, 2021
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Along the Jakes Branch
The sites of Beachwood Plaza and adjacent former mining/pollution dump known locally as Johnson's Pit, in Berkeley Township, has been a Mad Max-style post-apocalyptic ruined industrial wasteland for two full decades, where ATV and dirtbikes regularly roam. Nobody appears interested or willing to make it a legalized hub for this activity, which would draw the same activity off the also-adjacent Fischer's Pit area that has much more natural and environmentally sensitive aspects (and is now owned by Ocean County open space for future passive parkland).

NIMBYs would plausibly be close to nonexistent since the site is not close enough to any concentrated area of development as it is bordered by Route 9, the Blackbeard's Cave site now being converted to, I believe, a warehouse site, the aforementioned Fischer's Pit and a handful of houses in Berkeley and Beachwood. Any concern there could further be resolved by maintaining a buffer apart from those homes.

With how popular ATV activity is in Beachwood alone - many days, weekends and weekdays, a veritable parade of 'em head down the old CRRNJ trail to get to the two "pits" to zoom around, and when driving through our streets one can see many garages with them inside - this might even be somewhat welcomed (though there will always, as with all things, be those who lament the loss of the "old days" and grumpily prefer when they could do what they want, when they wanted, with little to no regulation or consequence).

This is a simplistic idea to try and resolve some of the issues and would likely not be bothered by most groups coming out of the west to do this, since it's closer to the shore.

Erik/Leewardian
 
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bobpbx

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Towns are eager to put the giant warehouses up anywere in town to grab ratables. They shun ATV parks. I have to tell you, honestly, that when Ocean County picked up the thousands of acres in the Forked River Mountains, I stood up in a meeting and suggested they designate the land below off Lacey Road as an ATV Park. They practically shouted me down, the Pinelands Comission and NJCF reps that were there. The County did not, as they were new to this big land management effort. This is at least 275 acres, and if they just cleared a bit more into an even rectangle it would be 400+ acres.

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Leewardian

New Member
Jan 2, 2021
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Along the Jakes Branch
Having an agency to mark out, manage and collect fees for ATV activity and then use that money to properly (and strongly, to send a message) enforce the activity in unauthorized areas seems like a win for everybody but the small outliers who generally don't like rules anyway and their opposite counterparts who want every grain of sand to be quietly fawned over and preserved. Over time the outliers would likely fade out and the regulated activity would be just like any other in the Pine Barrens, in specifically designated areas.
 

Jason Howell

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Nov 23, 2009
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Bob, your thoughtful approach deserves thoughtful conversation and consideration. I don’t think this is the place that is most suitable for that, however. I would certainly be willing to have conversation with others in the realm who are also persuing practical solutions and will be willing to hear you out on the merits and political realities involved. The latter of course is the main challenge as we can hardly get political support to the fund the good things in the parks let alone make room for the mad max crowd.

this may be a simplistic representation, but it is how I think many view the idea of giving away park land to the mad max crew.
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bobpbx

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Pines; Bamber area
Well, you would feel that way Jason, since you only want things to go your way. But all NJ citizens have a say in how things are run. There is plenty of state and county land to go towards parks. It went fairly well in Chatsworth - I didn't see anybody there like you depict in your post. In fact, many were nice families.
 

TommyP

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Mar 30, 2022
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Bob, your thoughtful approach deserves thoughtful conversation and consideration. I don’t think this is the place that is most suitable for that, however. I would certainly be willing to have conversation with others in the realm who are also persuing practical solutions and will be willing to hear you out on the merits and political realities involved. The latter of course is the main challenge as we can hardly get political support to the fund the good things in the parks let alone make room for the mad max crowd.

this may be a simplistic representation, but it is how I think many view the idea of giving away park land to the mad max crew.
I thought Mad Max was how you all described the situation *now*, so what is the problem with containing it?
 
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Jason Howell

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Nov 23, 2009
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Well, you would feel that way Jason, since you only want things to go your way. But all NJ citizens have a say in how things are run. There is plenty of state and county land to go towards parks. It went fairly well in Chatsworth - I didn't see anybody there like you depict in your post. In fact, many were nice families.
While I was not involved in the effort at Chatsworth, what I am told from those within NJCF who established the area was that It was an abject failure. While there were those who you describe that wanted to use the property and follow the rules, they could not stop the militant ORV users who vandalized equipment, refused to pay, and refused to follow any of the rules. The non-profit organization that was formed by ORV enthusiasts to run the facility was supposed to save a portion of the entrance fees to buy land once the free 10-year lease NJCF had provided ran out. I don't know why they were not able to purchase land before the expiration of the lease.
 

TommyP

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I had no idea it was a private park with a fee. Would you pay to kayak or bird watch at a place that's next door to Wharton where you can get the milk for free? It makes sense now. I thought they put aside land for ATV use. If they put up a use at your own risk sign on an existing sand pit, posted it on Facebook as the place to go, and let tow truck companies leave their calling cards, we might see less destruction elsewhere. Not 0% but less.
 

Wick

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Mar 6, 2016
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The cleared area Bob proppses for use has a lot of positives for a ORV park. First the land is already cleared. There are no water sources within or in the boundries of the property. There are no spungs, swamps, or marshes just lots of gravel, sand, and some pine trees that are slowly growing back.
 
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bobpbx

Piney
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I had no idea it was a private park with a fee. Would you pay to kayak or bird watch at a place that's next door to Wharton where you can get the milk for free? It makes sense now. I thought they put aside land for ATV use. If they put up a use at your own risk sign on an existing sand pit, posted it on Facebook as the place to go, and let tow truck companies leave their calling cards, we might see less destruction elsewhere. Not 0% but less
If they go for the free milk with an ATV, they should be fined.
 

bobpbx

Piney
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Oct 25, 2002
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Pines; Bamber area
While there were those who you describe that wanted to use the property and follow the rules, they could not stop the militant ORV users who vandalized equipment, refused to pay, and refused to follow any of the rules.
I'm treating this as a suspect claim, and in any case I have doubts it was intense enough for those running the place to give up for that reason. If you have one of those who ran it come on and confirm it, then I'll believe it.
 

Jon Holcombe

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Dec 1, 2015
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I'm treating this as a suspect claim, and in any case I have doubts it was intense enough for those running the place to give up for that reason. If you have one of those who ran it come on and confirm it, then I'll believe it.
I've lived in the Pine Barrens for 35 years. I just installed a septic system using Dave Decker Contracting (a great contractor and highly recommended by the way). The system cost $18,000 and Dave finished about a month ago. A week after Dave finished, some nitwit drove a dirtbike over the carefully graded dirt that has been seeded and raked leaving deep ruts all over my backyard. A few days later he drove up my driveway into my backyard again, this time running over one of the 4 corner access PVC ports. I was forced to put a barrier between two cars and along the edge of the driveway.

So if an asshole drove into my backyard, into my newly graded septic installation, in the Headwater Village subdivision, you think ATV owners riding in the woods out of view of everyone but their buddies are going to follow the rules? But I guess, over time, the damage will repair itself, since nature repairs everything.

Hey, maybe my claim is "suspect" too Bob. You are welcome to come to my house and check it out anytime.
 

Broke Jeep Joe

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I've lived in the Pine Barrens for 35 years. I just installed a septic system using Dave Decker Contracting (a great contractor and highly recommended by the way). The system cost $18,000 and Dave finished about a month ago. A week after Dave finished, some nitwit drove a dirtbike over the carefully graded dirt that has been seeded and raked leaving deep ruts all over my backyard. A few days later he drove up my driveway into my backyard again, this time running over one of the 4 corner access PVC ports. I was forced to put a barrier between two cars and along the edge of the driveway.

So if an asshole drove into my backyard, into my newly graded septic installation, in the Headwater Village subdivision, you think ATV owners riding in the woods out of view of everyone but their buddies are going to follow the rules? But I guess, over time, the damage will repair itself, since nature repairs everything.

Hey, maybe my claim is "suspect" too Bob. You are welcome to come to my house and check it out anytime.
Ed
 
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