Provide Your Comments to the Pinelands Commission (MAP Resolution)

The Pinelands Commission is continuing to discuss the issues in Wharton State forest and are considering a resolution at the upcoming meeting on 7/14 @ 9:30 AM.  It is critically important that they hear from the stakeholders on this issue to assure that your voices are heard.   Please read the following and quickly and easily submit your comments to the Pinelands Commission. 

Open Trails Position:

In summary, OTNJ has the following concerns with this Resolution:
 
  • In a previous meeting, the Commission discussed consulting the forest stakeholders before proposing the resolution and this was not done
  • It is not clear how this Resolution would affect events covered by Special Use Permits. 
  • It is not clear that this Resolution will have the desired effect and, in fact, may undermine the progress made by the DEP in gaining the support of the stakeholder groups who, for the most part, currently support the DEP’s protection efforts. 
  • Most importantly, the resolution does not indicate how future changes to the map will be evaluated and adjudicated.

We believe that the Pinelands Commission should table this Resolution and consult with the DEP to see what, if anything, the Pinelands Commission can do to help the DEP better protect the forest.  You can read our more detailed position here

How to submit your comments:

  1. Copy the text below
  2. Click here to go to the Pinelands Commission comment page
  3. Fill out the form, paste the text and modify as you see fit.
  4. Click Submit
  5. That’s it!

Below is some text that you can use to paste into the comment box and modify if wish.  We believe this text reflects the position of a reasonable user of the forest.

I am concerned about the proposed Resolution that is being considered at the upcoming Pinelands Commission meeting on 7/14.   While the maps that are being proposed are the USGS Topographical Maps and are widely recognized as the most comprehensive baseline of roads that exist, nonetheless, I see several unresolved concerns regarding this resolution. They are as follows:
 
In a previous meeting, the Commission discussed consulting the forest stakeholders before proposing the resolution. This stakeholder group includes various outdoor enthusiast groups, environmental groups, and the Pinelands Municipal Council. To our knowledge these groups have not been consulted.
 
It is not clear how this Resolution would affect events covered by Special Use Permits. Even some of the forest’s seemingly most insignificant roads are actually essential for the safety and successful running of these legal and approved events. Support crews, emergency vehicles and spectators count on these roads in ways it would be difficult for those unfamiliar with the events to contemplate.
 
It is not clear that this Resolution will have the desired effect. The DEP is solely responsible for enforcing any and all restrictions to motor vehicle access. Since the failure of the 2015 M.A.P. program, the DEP has taken on a more successful approach of enforcement, education and targeted protection projects. It is not clear that this Resolution will improve these efforts and, in fact, may undermine the progress made by the DEP in gaining the support of the stakeholder groups who, for the most part, currently support the DEP’s protection efforts. Further, the DEP has stated they do not need this map to be able to enforce motor vehicle related violations in the forest.
 
Most importantly, the resolution does not indicate how future changes to the map will be evaluated and adjudicated. The Pinelands Commission clearly does not have the resources to properly assess any kind of significant volume of proposed changes that may come in the future. It is not clear how the stakeholders would be engaged in this process. Further, some groups will undoubtedly view this as an opening to assail current, legal, responsible access, setting up the potential for a continued and protracted battle for access, which will further consume resources that the Pinelands Commission does not have. 
 
I believe that the Pinelands Commission should table this Resolution and consult with the DEP to see what, if anything, the Pinelands Commission can do to help the DEP better protect the forest.  

 

 
 

Solving the Problems Facing our Forests while Maintaining Access for Responsible Recreation