DEP ANNOUNCES VIRTUAL PUBLIC MEETING TO LAUNCH WHARTON STATE FOREST VISITOR AND VEHICLE USE SURVEY

TheChairman

New Member
Aug 16, 2022
21
19
Browns Mills
Attendance was abysmal. Teams is also abysmal.

It sounds like requiring permits to use the "unimproved roads" (whatever they are) are almost a foregone conclusion on the State's end. This isn't going to end well for we, the proletariats. :(
This is New Jersey.

Im not sure if you caught it in the beginning, but he specifically used the word "products" when speaking about this moving forward.

Trenton would turn Wharton into a 100% Pay-To-Play ORV park if they could get away with it. They do not care one iota about any endangered species, critical wetlands, or granola eating hippie who wants to be able to walk around and look at trees. They care about finding revenue streams to feed their machine. That's it.

Those permits are already done. You WILL be paying to wheel in the park. It is NOT a hill worth dying on. If we try and do so, we're going to leave our flank open to those same people who will get them to make obtaining and maintaining that permit almost impossible. You can look no further than the Firearm Purchaser Card for proof. The only difference is, we don't have a federal document for lawyers to point to when fighting for our right to reasonable access. They can charge what they want, and put whatever requirements they want. THAT is the conversation we need to have with them, not whether or not we have to pay at all.

They are fully aware that we as ORV enthusiasts will pay for the right to engage in our activities, but hell will freeze before a birdwatcher will.
 
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Scroggy

New Member
Jul 5, 2022
9
14
Delaware
It had occurred to me that a permit system more or less encourages a shift in use from those who view driving on unimproved roads as a means to an end, to those who view it as an end in itself--not necessarily an act calculated to improve the condition of the roads! It hadn't occurred to me that it might be deliberate.

I am still meditating on my legal theories. I am well aware that attachment to pet legal theories is a sign of incipient mental decay in the lay person. Nonetheless, it's hard for me to reconcile language like "...the interest of the public in such highway may be lost only upon a formal vacation or abandonment by a duly constituted authority, in the mode and manner prescribed by the law" with the absence of any statutory authority for the DEP, rather than the appropriate municipality, to vacate the public interest.

It's bad form to assume your counterparties don't know what they're doing. But it would also be a very Trenton thing to go "Look, the township doesn't maintain those roads, we can do as we please with them!" without bothering to see if you have the legal right to shut up a highway that the public has been using since William Richards first made iron. I would like DEP to show their work before I'm convinced they have the authority to impose this system.
 

stiltzkin

Explorer
Feb 8, 2022
166
234
Medford
I am conflicted on how to approach the survey. Leaning towards not using the mapping tool at all and providing my grievances with the plan in the free text submission, although it really does seem like you can draw a polygon over the entire forest, which makes a statement:

wharton.PNG


I guess there is a full month to think about it. Curious what others think.
 

smoke_jumper

Piney
Mar 5, 2012
1,257
706
Atco, NJ
It had occurred to me that a permit system more or less encourages a shift in use from those who view driving on unimproved roads as a means to an end, to those who view it as an end in itself--not necessarily an act calculated to improve the condition of the roads! It hadn't occurred to me that it might be deliberate.

I am still meditating on my legal theories. I am well aware that attachment to pet legal theories is a sign of incipient mental decay in the lay person. Nonetheless, it's hard for me to reconcile language like "...the interest of the public in such highway may be lost only upon a formal vacation or abandonment by a duly constituted authority, in the mode and manner prescribed by the law" with the absence of any statutory authority for the DEP, rather than the appropriate municipality, to vacate the public interest.

It's bad form to assume your counterparties don't know what they're doing. But it would also be a very Trenton thing to go "Look, the township doesn't maintain those roads, we can do as we please with them!" without bothering to see if you have the legal right to shut up a highway that the public has been using since William Richards first made iron. I would like DEP to show their work before I'm convinced they have the authority to impose this system.
The same occurred a few weeks ago. For the last couple of years they closed several WMA’s. Now they are offering a location to go if you purchase a permit.
 

popeofthepines

Explorer
Mar 8, 2006
201
68
Atco
Did anyone who watch pay attention to when they said that the permits are for 'unimproved roads'? That covers so many areas.

And the permits are free from what I heard. And the 'taking' of them is the leverage they want. And if they catch you without one, I am sure the penalities will be steep to make the money.

In the group I watched it with last night, we thought that the deck is stacked against the resistance of this and that since the 2015 MAP went down because of no input from stakeholders that this is 'their' answer to that.
 

TheChairman

New Member
Aug 16, 2022
21
19
Browns Mills
In the group I watched it with last night, we thought that the deck is stacked against the resistance of this and that since the 2015 MAP went down because of no input from stakeholders that this is 'their' answer to that.
By resistance, what do you mean? Environmentalist? ORV? Government?

I got the impression that the state wants to allow ORV use to create a revenue stream, but they know there's opposition. I feel like they're almost going through the motions to make ORV opposition think they are getting something or have a voice at the table. By ORV use, I mean plated, insured, whatever,

I feel like they know that they have something there that can be sold, and thats why he mentioned "products" that can be offered. I dont believe he meant harvested timber.
 

Scroggy

New Member
Jul 5, 2022
9
14
Delaware
If they're giving out the permits for free, that sort of puts paid to the "they're doing this because they need revenue" theory...if they were that hard up, they'd at least be levelling some nominal charge to cover the cost of issuing the permits. (And not withstanding the legalities, if the underlying problem was road maintenance costs eating the forest budget, I'd be sympathetic, but I don't think it's been presented that way.)

I still don't understand what problem they think they're solving with the permit system. Do they think most abuse is being done by impulsive people on a whim (who won't do enough planning to get permits before going off to tear around Wharton)? Are they trying to get more information on who is actually interested in using the forest?
 

bobpbx

Piney
Staff member
Oct 25, 2002
12,946
3,219
Pines; Bamber area
If they're giving out the permits for free, that sort of puts paid to the "they're doing this because they need revenue" theory...if they were that hard up, they'd at least be levelling some nominal charge to cover the cost of issuing the permits. (And not withstanding the legalities, if the underlying problem was road maintenance costs eating the forest budget, I'd be sympathetic, but I don't think it's been presented that way.)

I still don't understand what problem they think they're solving with the permit system. Do they think most abuse is being done by impulsive people on a whim (who won't do enough planning to get permits before going off to tear around Wharton)? Are they trying to get more information on who is actually interested in using the forest?
I'm just thinking out loud; but if a permit were only given to people who present the road legal vehicles they will drive under the permit, won't that be an easy way to kick out people who don't have one, and could not obtain it for their ORV? Maybe they are betting on the psychology aspect too; those without a permit don'e want to risk an immediate fine without the normal roadside haggle over what an ORV is. By the way, do I think most abuse is being done by impulsive people on a whim who won't do enough planning to get permits before going off to tear around Wharton? Yes.
 
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Teegate

Administrator
Site Administrator
Sep 17, 2002
24,530
6,789
If almost 1 million people visit Wharton in a year, and maybe one hundred thousand drive the roads, do you think the state is going to be able to handle that many permits? Is someone who comes to the Batsto County Living Fair or other events at Batsto or Atsion going to buy a permit to drive the dirt roads afterwards which some do? Are hunters who come from out of state and don't know about getting a permit going to turn around and go home when they have driven all the way here? And if you think that is not something that would happen then would any hunter from out of state go to the trouble to get a permit?

Are the enemies of the conservationist or even you going to constantly report them/you to try and get their/ your permit revoked? This may be why at least one of the members of the PPA is against permits. They are a target and so are any of us.

Does your family or friends sometimes drive you or your kayak to a starting or ending point of a trail or launch? They will also have to get a permit.
 
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bobpbx

Piney
Staff member
Oct 25, 2002
12,946
3,219
Pines; Bamber area
If almost 1 million people visit Wharton in a year, and maybe one hundred thousand drive the roads, do you think the state is going to be able to handle that many permits?

Yes, they issue millions of car registrations a year. They can do it.

Is someone who comes to the Batsto County Living Fair or other events at Batsto or Atsion going to buy a permit to drive the dirt roads afterwards which some do?

Most will turn around when they see the signs telling them a permit is required. They'll get a permit for the next year.

Are hunters who come from out of state and don't know about getting a permit going to turn around and go home when they have driven all the way here? And if you think that is not something that would happen then would any hunter from out of state go to the trouble to get a permit?

They need a NJ hunting license, so they'll get the permit at the same time 'if' they wan to hunt in Wharton.
 

TheChairman

New Member
Aug 16, 2022
21
19
Browns Mills
If they're giving out the permits for free, that sort of puts paid to the "they're doing this because they need revenue" theory...if they were that hard up, they'd at least be levelling some nominal charge to cover the cost of issuing the permits. (And not withstanding the legalities, if the underlying problem was road maintenance costs eating the forest budget, I'd be sympathetic, but I don't think it's been presented that way.)

I still don't understand what problem they think they're solving with the permit system. Do they think most abuse is being done by impulsive people on a whim (who won't do enough planning to get permits before going off to tear around Wharton)? Are they trying to get more information on who is actually interested in using the forest?
The permit system creates a bigger list of things to cite offenders for, is my assumption. It might also mean they are considering allowing actual ORVs into the park, since it would give some sort of data about them.

I dont see the permits being free, unless its like a trial thing. Free this year, but at a cost next year. I could see it as a way to "sell" the concept to people. People like free, and once they get a permit for free, they'll be likely to pay for it moving forward. At least many will, anyway. In the world of access to off-road areas, access fees/permits are very normal and accepted.
 

Teegate

Administrator
Site Administrator
Sep 17, 2002
24,530
6,789
All,

Open Trails NJ has produced a webpage to help you "Contact your Representatives" in regards to the DEP future policy on permits. It will walk you through the process of contacting your representative. I encourage everyone to check it out and use the info as best you can.

 

SuperChooch

Explorer
Aug 26, 2011
370
379
46
If they're giving out the permits for free, that sort of puts paid to the "they're doing this because they need revenue" theory...if they were that hard up, they'd at least be levelling some nominal charge to cover the cost of issuing the permits. (And not withstanding the legalities, if the underlying problem was road maintenance costs eating the forest budget, I'd be sympathetic, but I don't think it's been presented that way.)

I still don't understand what problem they think they're solving with the permit system. Do they think most abuse is being done by impulsive people on a whim (who won't do enough planning to get permits before going off to tear around Wharton)? Are they trying to get more information on who is actually interested in using the forest?
When we met with the state earlier in the year, they told us then that it wasn’t about the money. It was so they could take them away. It wouldn’t surprise me though if they start out free and then charge a small fee and gradually start jacking it up from there. By then, no politician would be willing to give up that income….
 

Teegate

Administrator
Site Administrator
Sep 17, 2002
24,530
6,789
The NJ Outdoor Alliance knows about this and has contacted all of their members. Hopefully, they will address that issue. If they don't have to pay nobody should have to pay.
 

smoke_jumper

Piney
Mar 5, 2012
1,257
706
Atco, NJ
If they're giving out the permits for free, that sort of puts paid to the "they're doing this because they need revenue" theory...if they were that hard up, they'd at least be levelling some nominal charge to cover the cost of issuing the permits. (And not withstanding the legalities, if the underlying problem was road maintenance costs eating the forest budget, I'd be sympathetic, but I don't think it's been presented that way.)

I still don't understand what problem they think they're solving with the permit system. Do they think most abuse is being done by impulsive people on a whim (who won't do enough planning to get permits before going off to tear around Wharton)? Are they trying to get more information on who is actually interested in using the forest?
This is just my opinion but a permit system whether it’s free (for now) or not is the only way to be able to have an enforceable map. When you get your permit you will also get a map. This whole interactive map is so they can take all the information and make sure most of the locations “reasonably” acessable and close the rest. Then crossing those little brown signs mean you can lose your privilege to driving privileges can be revoked.
 
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