Editorial: ORV Use in the Pine Barrens

Status
Not open for further replies.

woodjin

Piney
Nov 8, 2004
4,274
244
Near Mt. Misery
LARGO said:
On a seperate note, I took a nice couple hour ride this Saturday and in the course of my ride found something very disturbing out by a swamp trail I check out now & again.
G.

What did you find? Not for an open forum?
 

woodjin

Piney
Nov 8, 2004
4,274
244
Near Mt. Misery
bruset said:
Maybe I will go to one of the meetings. Which one are you going to? We can both be heckled and stoned, as I forsee that happening. Defending ORV's is a highly unpopular thing to do. Especially when you have people who compare them to nuclear weapons... :)

I think I will go to the august 19th meeting at the bishop farmstead in Southampton. The PPA headquarters. Should be interesting. I have to check to see which day that is on to know for certain if I can go. If so, I would be happy to attend it with you.

Jeff
 

LARGO

Piney
Sep 7, 2005
1,541
114
51
Pestletown
woodjin said:
What did you find? Not for an open forum?

Thanks for asking and not to be dramatic, not really no. I actually hope it doesn't come to anything.
The example was about just being responsible and caring about what goes on in our environment at any level. While I enjoy the woods no matter how I'm out there I always pay attention for things that don't look right.

G.
 

Ben Ruset

Administrator
Site Administrator
Oct 12, 2004
7,435
1,378
Monmouth County
www.benruset.com
woodjin said:
I think I will go to the august 19th meeting at the bishop farmstead in Southampton. The PPA headquarters. Should be interesting. I have to check to see which day that is on to know for certain if I can go. If so, I would be happy to attend it with you.

Jeff

The 19th seems to be a Saturday. If the meeting is on a Saturday I will go.
 

Ben Ruset

Administrator
Site Administrator
Oct 12, 2004
7,435
1,378
Monmouth County
www.benruset.com
http://sierraactivist.org/article.php?thold=-1&mode=flat&order=1&sid=36540

ORV might as well stand for "one repetitive vexation" in the minds of police, rangers and environmental agencies charged with protecting New Jersey's state forests and parks, and responsible off-road-vehicle riders, who say they are tired of the bad reputation shared by all but created by a few unlawful riders.



Whether the vehicles have two wheels or four, are called off-road or all-terrain, the rules are the same: Riders are not allowed to take those vehicles off roads or marked trails on land owned, managed or maintained by the state, and they may ride on private property only if they have permission from the owner.

State Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Bradley M. Campbell introduced the new policy last October, saying off-road vehicles and actions taken to protect public lands were costing the state countless man hours and nearly $1 million annually.

The department, concerned about the diversion of its resources to enforcement and restoration, said about 343,000 acres of state park, forest and wilderness have been damaged as a result of the illegal activities.

The problem is particularly acute in BurlingtonCounty, where vast stretches of forests and bogs draw illegal riders like moths to a flame. Sixty-three percent of the county's total acreage is in the 1.1-million-acre Pinelands reserve and within the county's borders lie a number of large state forests, including the 26,537-acre BassRiverStateForest, the 34,725-acre BrendanT.ByrneStateForest and the 114,557-acre WhartonStateForest.

The county also is home to the state's only legalized off-road park, which is in Woodland.

While the DEP trumpets the harsher penalties it has instituted for illegal riders and touts plans for vehicle registration and creation of additional, legal off-road parks, neither environmentalists nor landowners are convinced current measures or future initiatives will curb the multiple problems associated with off-road vehicles.

Environmental disaster

"They do a tremendous amount of damage on several levels," said Jeff Tittel, executive director of the New Jersey branch of the Sierra Club, "especially in the Pinelands, where there is very soft soil. They create erosion, kill vegetation, harm wildlife habitats. It's a very harmful practice.

"Also, the type of engine (in all-terrain vehicles) is very polluting. It's an old-style, two-cycle engine, kind of like a lawnmower. The design of the engine is more than 100 years old and is very polluting. More than 25 percent of the fuel that goes into the ATVs gets sprayed out the back and it creates a tremendous amount of water pollution."

Tittel said one quart of the fuel used to power the all-terrain vehicles could pollute one million gallons of water.

"From an air-pollution standpoint, one ATV puts out more pollution than about 10 Honda Civics," Tittel said. "The bottom line is the current ATV engine is very dirty. From an environmental standpoint, off-road vehicles are a disaster."

Greg Langan, a state ranger for more than two decades, has seen it all.

"One ATV, in an hour's time in a fragile area, can destroy that area for a generation," said Langan, the regional chief ranger with the New Jersey State Park Service, which oversees eight state parks. "The other thing you have to understand is the illegal motorcycles and ATVs have an impact on everyone else using the forest. … Other legal users of the state forest are negatively impacted by the illegal use of ATVs and motorcycles."

"If you are on state lands going out to bird watch or hunt, and then here comes a dirt bike or ATV ripping down a trail with the noise and disturbance, it's a problem," said Fred Akers, Sierra Club conservation chairman. "Or, what if you are horseback riding and here comes an ATV on the same trail?"

Lt. Harry Nessler, commander of the Red Lion station of the New Jersey State Police in Southampton, also acknowledged problems.

"We get regular calls with complaints about ATV riders," Nessler said. "It's not our main business, but we get regular complaints and have to respond."

Jerry Schoenleber, a resident of Amasa Landing Road in BassRiver, has experience with illegal riders ripping through his 7-acre property.

"It borders a gravel pit area, and this past spring we observed ATVs back there, and it's pretty disturbing to see the damage they did," Schoenleber said. "It was a problem for a couple of months and we acted on it by calling the police, although, I can't say it's 100 percent resolved."

Schoenleber said the damage included tire tracks, cut trees and trees with bark skinned to mark trails.

"There's a loss of property, there's the financial aspect and you feel violated," Schoenleber said. "It's like someone breaking into your house."

According to the DEP, between May and September, on average, approximately 45 percent of work time by conservation officers is spent addressing illegal off-road-vehicle use on state lands.

Further, the annual increased enforcement costs are approximately $140,000 for the Division of Fish and Wildlife and $757,000 for the Division of Parks and Forestry, a total of nearly $900,000.

Increased enforcement

"Really, there are two groups of riders," said Emile DeVito, manager of science and stewardship for the New Jersey Conservation Foundation. "There is the law-abiding group, who will go to great lengths to get insurance, to get organized and do what it takes to ride legally, and then there is another group who are absolute renegades, who will do none of that."

For those who choose to ride illegally, the DEP stiffened fines and penalties in 2002.

Then, on Aug. 28, Campbell warned violators that regulations prohibiting off-road-vehicle use on public lands would be strictly enforced.

"We have zero tolerance in dealing with illegal off-road-vehicle operators who pose an increasing threat to public safety and are causing extensive damage to protected natural resources," Campbell said. "We are actively conducting area enforcement sweeps to deter illegal operators, impounding unregistered and uninsured vehicles, and seeking maximum fines for all violators."

According to the DEP, between January and the second week of August, conservation officers and park rangers issued 484 summonses resulting in fines of up to $1,000 per violation. A total of 62 vehicles were impounded and 48 individuals were arrested and jailed, during that same time span.

The DEP also has instituted enforcement sweeps, the first of which was conducted over the Memorial Day weekend.

Conservation officers targeting illegal off-road-vehicle use on ForkedRiverMountain in OceanCounty and in the Greenwood Wildlife Management Areas, which straddle Burling-ton and Atlantic counties, resulted in 56 summonses, four criminal complaints, two municipal summonses and four vehicle impounded, according to the DEP.

In addition, Campbell said, the state is seeking legislation that would result in even tougher penalties, as well as require vehicle registration similar to that now required for boats.

At the county level, Nessler said, state police have also responded. Hesitant to delve deeply into the specifics for fear of alerting illegal riders, Nessler said several measures have been taken.

"When we get a complaint, we try to beef up patrols in the area for a period of time," Nessler said. "We are also trying to identify the people habitually riding in these illegal areas.

"Apprehending them is another thing, but we are trying to identify them. We are trying to get names and then approach those individuals. Our station area is covered with state forest and (illegal riding) occurs all the time, so it's an ongoing process."

Michael Tarsia is a longtime off-roader, member of the Blue Mountain Jeep Alliance and participant in a cleanup of the Pinelands in WhartonStateForest last weekend. Tarsia, of Philadelphia, said insufficient funding and lack of rangers also contribute to the problem.

"The amount of money being allocated for the upkeep of WhartonStateForest is poor," Tarsia said. "It's my understanding they have six rangers for more than 110,000 acres.

"Enforcement is definitely an issue here, too. If you are on an ATV in illegal areas, you should get tagged, but without the number of rangers needed to cover the area, you aren't going to stop illegal riding. The rangers just don't have the manpower. Of course, they won't say that because they are state employees, but that is also a big part of the problem."

Legal off-road parks

The New Jersey Off Road Vehicle Park in Woodland open-ed seven years ago. It is the state's lone legal park and has drawn rave reviews from those who use it and others. The park is on land leased to the organization by the New Jersey Conservation Foundation.

"I understand it is a relatively successful, properly run operation with very few complaints," Campbell said. "It's established a reasonably good model for us."

Campbell said the state has committed to a goal of establishing two new areas for lawful off-road-vehicle riding by 2005.

"A subcommittee of our New Jersey Trails Council has reviewed a number of sites, five overall, and are looking at the merits of each with the hope of making a recommendation by the end of the year," Campbell said. "It's our hope that by providing more venues where riding is lawful, we'll (curtail) the amount of illegal use on parks and other public lands."

But are additional legalized off-road vehicle parks the answer?

"I think having more parks will definitely help the issue of illegal riding," said Ann Mac-Rae, who supervises the office and the emergency medical technicians at the New Jersey Off Road Vehicle Park. "It would also reduce the number of injuries to riders out on the streets and in the woods.

"There are injuries here, but we have trained EMTs on site and we also have rules and regulations that riders have to follow or they can get kicked out."

"It's difficult to say whether the (Woodland park is) helping or not because we don't know how many riders were (riding illegally) before or after (it opened)," Nessler said. "Has it alleviated the problem? No, it has not. There are still ATVs in areas they shouldn't be.

"However, I certainly think if there were more areas where they were permitted to ride, it would help."

Not everyone agrees.

"We don't support creating parks, unless along with it there is a program of registration and licensing at the point of sale, so there are no more anonymous riders," DeVito said. "This is the most critical destruction in our protected lands today and we have a very limited ability to do anything because the people breaking the law don't have license plates and are anonymous.

"In no way, not if we had two, three, 10 or 20 parks, would there be a stop to the destruction of protected lands. The establishment of parks is not going to deal with the lawless people. The lawless people are not going to spend money when they can go and ride anywhere they choose with no real risk at all. Right now, it is almost impossible to get caught. If you ride 100 times illegally, you may get caught once."

"Another big question regarding creating parks is, what is the profile of people who own ATVs?" Akers said. "It's all over the board. Some people say it's a family activity, with mom and dad taking the kids out for a ride. Those are the people who would benefit from more legal places to ride.

"But of the people who use ATVs, how many are kids who bug their parents saying, 'I want an ATV,' and then don't get supervised, don't have a trailer and don't have the property to ride? It's just, 'yahoo,' and they're off on their vehicle. Those users aren't going to the legal park. Those are the kids who get injured and ride illegally without supervision."

Akers said the New Jersey Off Road Vehicle Park is "as good as it gets," but that doesn't mean it's the answer.

"The theory that if you had a number of legal parks around the state, that it would eliminate illegal riding is very debatable," Akers said. "The issues for that to work are, one, do you want to go where there is a crowd? Two, do you want to pay? Three, do you have the capability to move your equipment around? So, do you have a trailer and can you even drive to get to the park? And those are just some of the questions."

Responsible riders

It was the last weekend in February 2000, when park rangers on an enforcement operation blitzed Murphy's Pit in Shamong, a notorious off-road-vehicle hotspot. During the sting, rangers encountered some 20 illegal riders, including one who tried to run over a ranger with his vehicle.

That incident quickly became the stereotype of the off-road community.

"You see it all the time. We definitely get a bad reputation," Tarsia said. "I think with the four-wheelers, the Jeepers and SUVers, it's about being in nature and getting the most out of the forest. Most of us follow the law. We are the horseback riders and the guys who stay on the trails and are genuinely concerned about the state lands.

"We hate to see the beer cans, the beer bottles, the cigarette packs and the general trash that litters the forest and we want to work to take care of the land."

Even Campbell acknowledged the negative stigma that hangs over the off-road community.

"There is a place for safe and lawful (ORV recreation), but the law-breakers are creating danger and a hostile climate for the many law-abiding riders," he said.

"It's a shame we are all lumped together," said Jeff Minner, 24, of Moorestown. "I've been riding for 12 years now and very rarely do I see anything positive written or reported about (off-road enthusiasts). But you know, the second someone gets hurt or someone gets caught riding illegally, or someone rips through a wetland, it's all our faults and the (off-road community) gets labeled.

"I'm tired of it and tired of getting painted with the same brush and so are a lot of other people who do the right things and ride legally."

By Andrew Cushman
Burlington County Times - 11/2/2003
 

LARGO

Piney
Sep 7, 2005
1,541
114
51
Pestletown
If I Had Any Sense At All........

I would stay off this thread. But I'm short on sense right now. Interesting article Ben. Couple small points though. I believe the tide has turned regarding the "type" of engines employed in ATV's. More four strokes are being used, produced and the technology is closer to cars while no, of course they don't meet emissions standards of honda civics, (neither does my S-10 or more than half the big crap you see bouncing around in the woods but it seems all ORV's are under attack anyway )they aren't what they used to be.
Fuel polluting water, go after boat motors. There ain't but just kayaks in some of the waterways. Ban the small boats bumbling around if you're worried about water.
Bad reputation, absolutely. Again the few hurt the many. Erosion yes, So does any other mode impact. Anyone walking think they've never disturbed a habitat? Guess I don't have a good argument for that one though. Having more parks and still having problems, yes that sucks.
Kinda like gun control and the bad guys still do what they want. Kids and ATV'S ?? Not mine. It's been asked, I've said no. They can ride with me but there is no way I'm sending a kid out into the woods on an ATV. STUPID !!!
That's a parental issue. Even if they had one, it would never leave the yard without me. I bought my own at 18. There are many points in the article I agree with and all center on the few screwing it up for the many. I've chased and reported many trespassers on my own land. Do not go on private property unless you ask and respect "NO" as an answer. It's tough, I wish I had the right answer but I don't.
Oh, the Beer cans, cigarette packs, food containers, party implements, condoms, blankets, clothes,lawn chairs, etc..... Go to SUV's and big Orv's etc. How much crap do you really think you can bring out and discard on a Cycle or Quad. A Blazer or Bronco Or Jeep full of jerks can party, leave a mess and drive out undetected most times but when I bring along a bottled water and carry it out in a bag as well as some other things I might find, I chance getting locked up due to the bike. Wierd.
I encourage the bring a bag thing to my kids not just because I think I can clean up the whole of the woods, I'm not a damned fool, but I know that this practice will make them less likely if not adamant never to litter.
I guess once again I should stop writing since I made the choice to stop trying and just ride illegally. I must sound quite the hypocrite, opening myself up to more than a few criticisms. I guess if the authorities read this forum I should try to keep my anonymity secure.

G.
 

Ben Ruset

Administrator
Site Administrator
Oct 12, 2004
7,435
1,378
Monmouth County
www.benruset.com
The other thing to throw out here is that every year there is a MASSIVE cleanup in Wharton planned by the Jersey Devil 4WD club that attracts a TON of Jeep/4WD people who all pitch in to help clean up the woods.

I have yet to see a PPA Cleanup scheduled, or get that many people involved.
 
bruset said:
The other thing to throw out here is that every year there is a MASSIVE cleanup in Wharton planned by the Jersey Devil 4WD club that attracts a TON of Jeep/4WD people who all pitch in to help clean up the woods.

I have yet to see a PPA Cleanup scheduled, or get that many people involved.

That's because its much easier to complain about the trash that "those" people leave in the area than to actually go out and help clean up. Besides, it means that they would have to actually talk to the Jeep/4WD/ORV people and thereby finding out that they are not the evil people that the PPA has painted them to be.
 

Trailhead00

Explorer
Mar 9, 2005
375
1
45
Haddonfield, NJ
To the moron from the Sierra Club who said ATV's use older 2-stroke engines like lawnmowers: For one thing I haven't seen a 2 stroke lawnmower in my life, my lawnmower is a 4 stroke. The second thing is almost all ATV's sold now are 4 stroke, this is the last year you can buy the well-known Yamaha Banshee a 350cc twin cylinder 2 stroke. Yamaha, like most manufacturers, have moved on to 4 strokes. I have said before my ATV has dual overhead cams and a 5 valve head. You know what else uses a 5 valve head? Ferrari's and Formula 1 race cars, not exactly lawnmower material. I have ridden both my ATV and my truck in the Pine Barrens and I am sure I have caused more "damage" with my truck. I would love to see "all the harm" that ATV's cause to the Pine Barrens because I simply do not see it. When I'm in the woods I do see big ruts in the sand, in puddles and up hills caused by enormous tires used on "legal" trucks. I guess I might as well put 35 inch mud tires on my truck and start ripping things up. I get SO frustrated with this stuff, it drives me crazy. NJORVP is closing soon as well and where are all those people going to ride?
 

woodjin

Piney
Nov 8, 2004
4,274
244
Near Mt. Misery
It is true that 2 stroke engines are rapidly becoming extinct in dirt bikes and quads. The Seirra club guy made it sound as though these engines (2 strokes) were used exclusively. I've had 2 stroke motocross bikes and they are awsome to ride but are best suited for closed motocross tracks. Interestingly, they are actually losing ground in motocross to 4 strokes as well.

Anyway, the point is, 2 strokes are not a standard and in the next few years maybe obsolete anyway. As Trailhead stated.

Also, 343,000 acres have been damaged by ORVs? Where did they get this #? How do you even begin to figure that out? I think they just make this up. Okay, you can count the pits, but 343,000 acres? Come on! If you look at an enduro trail in the woods, they are about 1' wide. How to you factor that in. How long would a 1' rut have to be to = 1 acre?

Jeff
 

LARGO

Piney
Sep 7, 2005
1,541
114
51
Pestletown
woodjin said:
Also, 343,000 acres have been damaged by ORVs? Where did they get this #? How do you even begin to figure that out? I think they just make this up. Okay, you can count the pits, but 343,000 acres? Come on! If you look at an enduro trail in the woods, they are about 1' wide. How to you factor that in. How long would a 1' rut have to be to = 1 acre?
Jeff

In the case of your 1 foot enduro trail.... about 8-1/4 miles if the chart that I checked is right. C'mon, I can wreck 3 times that in less than half the distance. Give me a jeep and I can cut it down to about an 1/8th. Get me a serious 4WD from like a J-Devil 4WD site and I can really get that fiqure down. If we all get together we should be able to level the pine barrens in a couple days tops. Then these folks would absolutely have to find somewhere else to protect. Problem solved.
 

Trailhead00

Explorer
Mar 9, 2005
375
1
45
Haddonfield, NJ
I stand corrected about 2 stroke lawn mowers, now I'm the moron :eek: I forgot about Lawn Boys usind 2 strokes, I never had a Lawn Boy, but I heard they are good lawn mowers. Regardless my point was the Sierra Club is somewhat misinformed about the engines used in ATV's and motorcycles. If they think ATV's are polluting the air how about all the lawn mowers, weed whackers, trimmers etc etc that are being used everyday in every town? How about boats, many use 2 strokes and besides that you don't think they create havoc to marine life? I don't hate the Sierra Club and I don't hate other groups that want to protect the Pine Barrens. I'm a guy who rides an ATV and also loves and wants to protect the Pine Barrens. I wish there could be some happy medium
 

Ben Ruset

Administrator
Site Administrator
Oct 12, 2004
7,435
1,378
Monmouth County
www.benruset.com
woodjin said:
Also, 343,000 acres have been damaged by ORVs? Where did they get this #?

There are 1,164,025 acres in the Pinelands National Reserve. So they're claiming that 25% of the land has been damaged by ATV's?

Is 25% of that land even accessable without bushwacking?
 

LARGO

Piney
Sep 7, 2005
1,541
114
51
Pestletown
bruset said:
Easy now. The idea of protection is great. They way they're going about it is what I (and presumably others here) have a problem with.

A little dry humor.
I am totally in agreement. There is a lot of damage that needs some
addressing. I love my woods too.
It would be great if we really were all on the same team.
 
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top