Author Archives: jdruding

Contact Your Representatives

Concerned about new permits and roads being closed? So are we. Let’s ask our elected officials to help! We created this page to help you with finding and contacting your elected representatives. (Governor, State Senators, Mayors and the DEP) If we don’t ALL act, we shouldn’t be surprised by the results. Post below to let us know you contacted them. We have 6,000 followers, we need to see 6,000 comments!

Wharton Usage Survey Released

The Wharton usage survey has been released! There are only 30 days to submit your input (Closes 10/28). PLEASE take your time and be as detailed as possible with your submission. Important Tips:

Mark as many locations as possible but DO NOT just “circle the whole map”

Do you record your tracks in a GPS app? Submit it with your survey!

Don’t want to use a computer or know someone who is not tech savvy? You can download a paper copy and mail in your survey (on the same page)

Tell everyone you know about this survey. Share this post, talk about it in your clubs. If you do not respond don’t be surprised by the results!

The survey closes 10/28!

Coming up next: OTNJ will begin a campaign and will release a web page with talking points and tools for contacting your representatives. It is time to get serious. Your legal access is at stake.

https://nj.gov/dep/parksandforests/wharton/

Recording of 9/27 Virtual Meeting has been posted

The recording of the stakeholder meeting has been released. If you have not seen this, you need to watch it and get ready to provide feedback within 30 days. In the coming days, OTNJ will provide some guidance and resources on how you can help. Keep an eye on our page for details. We also heard a lot of people had technical issues getting access to the meeting. If you had an issue getting into the meeting, let us know below.

New Wharton State Forest Stakeholder Meeting Coming Up!

As we have heard over the last several months, the State is beginning a stakeholder engagement process to evaluate changes to access to Wharton State Forest including a map and permit system. OTNJ is considered one of the stakeholders and we will be keeping everyone informed of what we learn and how the public can get involved. The first step is a virtual meeting that will be held on 9/27 at 6:00 PM. Every single follower on this page should register for this meeting and participate in the subsequent survey. This is the start of your opportunity to provide feedback on how you access Wharton State forest and how you feel about these potential changes. Click here to register for the virtual meeting:

https://nj.gov/dep/parksandforests/wharton/

Click here to read the press release:

https://www.nj.gov/dep/newsrel/2022/22_0036.htm?fbclid=IwAR1NEyJ9cg32-qfllkLrsSc444eF2N-XhzEAusLt64KoiThgf7YFyC_YbJc

Wildlife Management Area Closures

OTNJ is disappointed to hear about the recent actions by the DEP regarding closures within certain Wildlife Management Areas. OTNJ as well as other stakeholder groups have been in recent contact with the DEP, and in those discussions, they stressed they were planning to be open and transparent and to engage the public in their future plans regarding access. We have no doubt that these WMAs are experiencing stress from illegal activity, however, closures are the worst possible outcome from the perspective of a law abiding citizen. Unless enforcement is stepped up, all this will accomplish is preventing law abiding citizens from gaining access while the offenders will continue unabated. These types of actions make us wonder if the DEP is really planning on engaging the stakeholders and if they learned from previous mistakes in this area. If this action is impacting you, please contact NJ Fish and Wildlife at 609-292-2965 or email them by clicking here: https://www.njfishandwildlife.com/contactform.htm

https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=4214494631906124&id=769563899732565

Pinelands Commission Update

The Pinelands Commission held their Policy and Implementation meeting today and discussed a potential resolution to create a map using the USGS Topographical Maps as a baseline of roads. Learning the lessons of the DEP MAP, they instead decided to set up a sub-committee and solicit inputs from the stakeholders on next steps. OTNJ is satisfied with this result. While the USGS map is very comprehensive and would not restrict legal, legitimate motor vehicle access, OTNJ is concerned with how this map could be maintained over time considering the very limited resources the Pinelands Commission has. OTNJ will continue to monitor this situation and will alert our membership for action if we foresee a negative impact to legitimate motorized recreation.

 
 
 
 

Open Trails NJ Participates in DEP Protection Project

Open Trails NJ staff participated with other groups in a small volunteer activity to protect four sensitive intermittent ponds in Wharton State Forest. This activity furthers the protection of sensitive areas without requiring mass road closures. We are thankful to the DEP for continuing to forge relationships with the stakeholder groups in their mission to protect the forest and look forward to participating in future protection projects!

Read the DEP Press Release for details.

 

 

Wharton State Forest Hunter Vehicle Access Program

The DEP has announced that they will be allowing vehicle access to two of the Enivronmentally Sensitive Areas (ESA) during hunting season this year. A pass can be picked up at Atsion or Batsto offices. The passes are valid from 9/24/16 – 01/01/17. The specific ESAs that will be accessible have not been identified, but we will seek clarification on which will accessible and update you.

Full detail provided by the DEP is as follows:

2016 WHARTON STATE FOREST HUNTER VEHICLE ACCESS PROGRAM

In 2016, the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) designated areas on Wharton State Forest to be environmentally sensitive areas (ESA’s) for plants or wildlife. As a result, the State Park Service installed signage to advise motorists accordingly as to the locations of these ESAs and State Park Police have vigorously enforced off-road offenders.

The DEP is providing limited, off season vehicle access to licensed hunters into two specific areas. No cost vehicle access passes shall be issued as part of in-person registration at Wharton State Forest’s Atsion or Batsto park offices during normal business hours. One pass shall be issued to each hunter holding a valid automobile driver’s license. The pass must be carried in the vehicle while driven within the two specific ESA’s and left in plain view in the windshield whenever parked with the hunter afield. Additionally, the vehicle access passes are non-transferable.

State Park Police may issue summonses to any driver operating within the two specific EASs who fails to possess the hunter vehicle access pass. Additionally, motorists may NOT operate vehicles off the roadway. No entering fields, bogs, swamps or adjacent woodlands.

Passes will be available at 9:00 A.M. on Saturday, September 24, 2016, and will expire on January 31, 2017 coinciding with the duration of the Winter Bow Season. The program will be evaluated throughout the fall and early winter for next year. Hunters must abide by established seasons and regulations while afield.

Questions regarding the program should be directed to the Wharton State Forest Superintendent at 609.561.0074

Erosion Prevention at Jemima Mount

Now that the heat of summer is breaking, we plan to get back out to IMG_2322Jemima Mount to complete the project we started there. We will finish filling the trenches with deadfall to prevent further erosion. We will also be extending one of the railings to prevent go arounds. The first part of the project that we completed in the spring has been a great success so far, proving that we can create solutions to problems without mass road closures. Let’s keep up the good work! Please join us!

Event Details:

You can meet us at Atsion Ranger Station and 9:00 AM 10/2. If your vehicle is not able to make the trip, we can carpool. Alternatively, you can meet directly at Jemima around 9:30AM. Any questions, please post in the comments.

-We will be dragging nearby deadfall into the trenches so it is recommended you wear a good pair of work gloves.
-Wear long long pants and bring plenty of bug spray to prevent chiggers and ticks
-This is a family friendly event but all minors must be accompanied by an adult
-If you are attending, please RSVP to this event so we can get a rough headcount.