Provide your Comments to the Pinelands Commission

The Pinelands Commission is continuing to discuss the issues in Wharton State forest and are considering taking action.  It is critically important that they hear from the stakeholders on this issue to assure that rational voices are heard, and not just those of the extreme, vocal minority.

The Pinelands Commission is considering using the 2014 USGS Topographical map to establish a baseline of roads.  This particular map is invalid for these purposes.  The 1997 USGS topo is the last valid baseline of roads for Wharton State Forest.  You can read more about this here.

Open Trails Position:

  • We support using a USGS Topographical map to establish a baseline of roads, however, the 1997 map must be used as it is last complete baseline of roads in Wharton State Forest
  • We believe that the Pinelands Commission should be an advisor to the DEP and, perhaps provide a recommendation, but not compell the DEP to take specific action.  The DEP is in the best position to develop a plan to protect Wharton State Forest.

To prevent a repeat of the M.A.P. disaster, we must get out in front of this issue and the Pinelands Commission must hear from you TODAY.  Do not wait.  Use the instructions below to submit your comments.

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.

While I agree that USGS topographical maps should be used to develop a baseline of roads in Wharton State Forest, the 2014 map is not valid for this purpose.  In 2009, for cost savings purposes, the USGS stopped tracking unimproved roads, and instead relied on other external sources of data, which is largely incomplete.  “Unimproved roads” are the primary type of roads that traverse Wharton State Forest.  As as result, the last valid documented baseline for Wharton State Forest is contained in the 1997 map, which was before this detail was dropped.
Further, I do not believe it is appropriate for the Pinelands Commission to intercede at this time by compelling the DEP or other agencies to take specific action, but rather, the Pinelands  Commission should act as an advisor to the DEP on this matter.  As a result of the recent issues and firestorm around the MAP, the DEP is now aware of what needs to be done and should be given the time to develop a new plan, which should include increased enforcement and education.  By compelling action at this time, there could be unintended consequences that might actually hinder the DEP and State Park Police from resolving the current issues with forest.  The DEP is in the best position to determine, with input from the stakeholders, the best course of action.

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