DEP Announces Virtual Public Meeting to Launch Wharton State Forest Visitor and Vehicle Use Survey

RednekF350

Piney
Feb 20, 2004
4,985
3,188
Pestletown, N.J.
I watched the attendance tally closely. At 5:38 there were 267 and 36 minutes later the highest count I saw was 352. With a million visitors a year in Wharton this has to be alarming for the DEP.......
I wouldn't say that the low attendance numbers would be alarming to the NJDEP. I would say that they would find those numbers to be emboldening and encourage them to keep moving forward with their plan.
 

NJPinesExplorer

New Member
Sep 14, 2016
14
41
Mount Laurel, NJ
I have photos of the slides which were called out during the meeting and created a picture comparing them that points out the incorrect values on the summary slide which made it look like the survey had much higher support for restricted access than in actuality.

Wharton4.jpg
 

Attachments

  • Wharton1.jpg
    Wharton1.jpg
    113.5 KB · Views: 85
  • Wharton2.jpg
    Wharton2.jpg
    132.6 KB · Views: 80
  • Wharton3.jpg
    Wharton3.jpg
    228.2 KB · Views: 78
Last edited:

bobpbx

Piney
Staff member
Oct 25, 2002
14,419
4,541
Pines; Bamber area
I watched the entire thing. The things that mostly bothered me:

1) Right off the start, they said many people selected the entire map, so they threw those out so as to not skew the data. (!!!!)

2) Two people blatantly indicated they wanted roads and trails closed. One of them said the state should, over a set period, slow down the enduro permits to a point where they could be dropped and nobody would notice or mind.

3) I think they should have given legislators and mayors double the time limit to speak.

4) They came out with a lot of statistics regarding how the surveys were answered; what people do, where people drive, etc. But, did they have a map presentation showing where the damage is? No. That should have been number one.

Thing I liked: The score was about 95% for leaving things be, and those people were mostly measured and articulate when discussing their points.
 

TommyP

Explorer
Mar 30, 2022
197
185
Clementon
thomaspluck.substack.com
They didn't address anything except to show the results of the surveys and to say "whoops lol we aren't gonna charge $115 like at Island Beach"
I am so glad that they made that mistake, because it enraged a lot of people and got them organized against a permit system.
Even a DEP Employee said, essentially, "why are you wasting money and not spending any on ENFORCEMENT? There are only two (2) park police for ALL of South Jersey!"
Which is basically it. They want to spend money turning Batsto into a theme park but don't want to pay for police, or to maintain roads. I'm not sure how permits will stop tourists from getting stuck. I bet they could buy a tow truck for the park police, brand new, at a lower cost than printing permit stickers.
 

TommyP

Explorer
Mar 30, 2022
197
185
Clementon
thomaspluck.substack.com
And yes, I am tired of hearing "Rampant Destruction" and then a photo from 2017 with one tire track as evidence.
One fellow said "did you notice all the chimneys disappeared once ATVs came in?"
Where's the evidence? I highly doubt dirt bikers were carting away bricks. I wish I could have seen the old chimneys, too. But I don't think you're hauling them away in a side by side. There's a cultural divide here.
I too get frustrated when I see a 300-truck event organized on Facebook because we run 12-20 car events and those are difficult enough to manage with a pre-planned trail on the well-maintained roads. I'm glad the rep from Tread Lightly showed up. And that someone asked if Pinelands Adventures would be exempt, with their Magic School Bus That Can't Hurt Wildlife(tm).
 

NJPinesExplorer

New Member
Sep 14, 2016
14
41
Mount Laurel, NJ
I was happy to hear an almost universal repudiation of a permit system last night. My only fear is that the focus on the permit system may overshadow other intentions of this proposal, such as limiting access by road closures. Right on the summary slide under Key Vehicle Use Findings they stated "Areas of known illegal off-road vehicle activity were not identified as important driving routes" and "Most popular driving area identified from at the data received was Atsion through Quaker Bridge to Batsto." That sounds like justification to close a bunch of roads and say "people only really care about driving between Atsion and Batsto." I may be getting ahead of myself, but I just worry that the permit discussion may distract from other moves by the DEP to restrict access through closing established roads to everyone, regardless of a permit. It almost feels like they threw the permit in there to get everyone up in arms so they could close a bunch of roads and then say "Well at least we backed off on the permit idea. See, we compromised!"
 

stiltzkin

Explorer
Feb 8, 2022
495
717
Medford
I have photos of the slides which were called out during the meeting and created a picture comparing them that points out the incorrect values on the summary slide which made it look like the survey had much higher support for restricted access than in actuality.

Just to play devil's advocate: it could be the other way around - in other words, the numbers on the data slides could have been the ones swapped and the summary slide is the one that is correct. But I think that is less likely. Hopefully this was just an innocent mistake either way.

Right off the start, they said many people selected the entire map, so they threw those out so as to not skew the data. (!!!!)

I thought they were saying that they had to throw out data from people who put a small circle on the center of the map and then annotated "all of Wharton," because clearly they didn't literally mean to delineate just that small circle. But I'm not sure, I may have misheard. I really want to watch the playback but they haven't put it up on their YouTube channel yet. If anyone has a recording let me know.
 

bobpbx

Piney
Staff member
Oct 25, 2002
14,419
4,541
Pines; Bamber area
I thought they were saying that they had to throw out data from people who put a small circle on the center of the map and then annotated "all of Wharton," because clearly they didn't literally mean to delineate just that small circle. But I'm not sure, I may have misheard. I really want to watch the playback but they haven't put it up on their YouTube channel yet. If anyone has a recording let me know.
That's the way I took it, they meant all of Wharton should be driveable.
 

Boyd

Administrator
Staff member
Site Administrator
Jul 31, 2004
9,658
2,865
Ben's Branch, Stephen Creek
1) Right off the start, they said many people selected the entire map, so they threw those out so as to not skew the data. (!!!!)

Guess they didn't want the dataset to be "polluted"... :D

We should just absolutely swamp the "interactive mapping tool" mentioned in the press release. Collectively mark every single road and site as important. Pollute the dataset.
 

enormiss

Explorer
Aug 18, 2015
592
385
Atco NJ
And as one viewer pointed out they made a mistake on one of their graphs that contradicted the other. I may have taken a photo of it and will post later tonight. It is obvious that most people want the permit system idea eliminated.

I'm glad that was noticed and it was pointed out. I thought it was wrong as soon as I saw it but wasn't positive.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Teegate

enormiss

Explorer
Aug 18, 2015
592
385
Atco NJ
I watched the attendance tally closely. At 5:38 there were 267 and 36 minutes later the highest count I saw was 352. With a million visitors a year in Wharton this has to be alarming for the DEP.

Someone made a good point last night, if they are including swimmers at Atsion [Batsto visitors etc] we really don't know the number of actual vehicle trail users.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Teegate

bobpbx

Piney
Staff member
Oct 25, 2002
14,419
4,541
Pines; Bamber area
I have photos of the slides which were called out during the meeting and created a picture comparing them that points out the incorrect values on the summary slide which made it look like the survey had much higher support for restricted access than in actuality.

View attachment 19248
Do you know if anyone called them out on this yet? I know a guy that I can ask at state if not.
 

NJPinesExplorer

New Member
Sep 14, 2016
14
41
Mount Laurel, NJ
Do you know if anyone called them out on this yet? I know a guy that I can ask at state if not.

Someone mentioned it during the public comment section of the virtual meeting and the DEP folks said they would take a look and confirm everything was correct. They just posted the summary slide to the Wharton State Forest Facebook page with the values flipped so that it's 132 for "access RESTRICTED" and 396 for "more ENFORCEMENT." Here's a copy:

Wharton5.jpg
 

TommyP

Explorer
Mar 30, 2022
197
185
Clementon
thomaspluck.substack.com
I was talking to some birders and photographers at Friendship, who were angry about the DEP Teams meeting.
According to them, the current DEP head "gave them free rein to turn Brendan Byrne into a dirt bike park."
He said Enduro riders make "secret trails" in the middle of the forest using chainsaws, and make new "single tracks" for every race.
Is there any truth to this? I know Enduro riders have used the Pine Barrens for decades, and were allowed to use it after the Preserve was made. I've seen dirt bikers here and there but I have never seen an Enduro race or any tracks like they are mentioning.
Is it the usual hyperbole or is there some truth?
Because the same guy was complaining that Jeeps drove over the gravel piles near Friendship. Sneering about it. "they say it's FUN!"
I really don't get people. This same person puts on waders to go through bogs for photos. He probably thinks that is fun.
I don't get why some people just can't say "to each their own." ...
Driving over a gravel pile may be goofy, but it's not killing any wildlife. I wonder if these people think actually think endangered salamanders live in the sand pits at Funtown? Or if they just think all offroaders are stereotypical rednecks and hate them for that.
 
  • Like
Reactions: auto
Top