Author Archives: jdruding

Take Action: Comment on “Outside, Together”

Take Action Today! The state recently released “Outside, Together”, the Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan (SCORP).  This effort is separate from the survey that was releases last fall and the plan to develop a new map or a permit system.  That being said the state is asking for feedback and we should take this opportunity to voice our values on responsible motorized recreation.  Please follow the link to review the document and submit your comment.  We have read the document and included some suggested talking points that you can use.   Please take 5 minutes to click the link and copy and paste the test below or write your own feedback.  

Let’s get started!

Step One- (Optional) Review the “Outside, Together” information

Review the Outside, Together Webpage:

Step Two – Submit Your Concerns

1) Write your own comments or copy and paste the suggested comments below:

I support Principle 1, “Expanding high-quality open space and recreational opportunities for all New Jersey residents and visitors” as it pertains to New Jersey’s forests.

The roads in our forests, and Wharton State forest in particular, have been important to the citizens of NJ dating back to the Revolution. Wharton is a 120,000 acres and any sort of recreation in the interior of Wharton requires road access. This access is especially important for those with children, the elderly, and the handicapped. We have experienced the beauty of our forests and we want our children and  grandchildren to be able to have the same experiences we have had. I am against any effort to restrict motorized access to the roads in our state forests.

I am concerned about Principle 6, “Continuing commitments to stewardship and the conservation and restoration of biodiversity”

While I support protecting our resources from abuse, I’m concerned about the goal regarding the “removal of abandoned roads and trails”. Who is to say that a road or trail is “abandoned” and what will the definition of “abandoned” be? I am against the closure of any road or trail identified on the 1997 USGS Topographical maps, as this the most comprehensive baseline of roads known to exist for New Jersey.

2) Click on the link to submit your comments:

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.

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:

Click here to read the press release:

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:

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.