DEP Releases New Plan for Wharton State Forest

The DEP released their new plan at the stakeholder meeting last night, which OTNJ and other stakeholder groups were a part of.

The plan consists of stepping up enforcement and protecting environmentally sensitive areas. Technology and equipment, including cameras, helicopters, drones and new vehicles will be brought to bear to enforce rules that already exist and are in place.

The plan does not include mass, indiscriminate, closures of roads. Entrances to the forest will be marked with signs that warn that the area is patrolled and the laws will be enforced. Violators will face stiff fines including possible impoundment of vehicles. The signs posted will help charges to be able to be upheld in court, a previous serious impediment to enforcement. Focus on maintenance will be increased, however, it is acknowledged that there is a shortfall between what is wanted and the funding available.

This plan was forged with input from thousands of stakeholders including environmental groups, hunters, hikers, kayakers, horseback riders and 4×4 enthusiasts. In any compromise, not everyone will be 100% happy, but this is a plan that no reasonable person could disagree with.

We aplaud the DEP for their efforts and we are hopeful that all groups, including those that originally supported the MAP, can now unify support for this reasonable and effective approach.

We will continue to provide updates as we get them.

OTNJ has teamed up with Tread Lightly!

Tread Lightly! is a national organization that promotes responsible
recreation through stewardship, communication and education. Recently, some of the OTNJ staff attended a Tread Lightly! “train theTL-OTNJ.001 trainer” course and our own Pola Galie will be giving a Tread Lightly! talk on Sunday, 4/17/16 at the Lighthouse Center for Natural Resource Education, Waretown, NJ at 3:00 PM (More details to follow) We are excited about the new opportunities this relationship with Tread Lightly! will bring!

 

Update on Pinelands Commission Meeting / OTNJ Membership!

The Pinelands Commission meeting this past Friday was well attended. Due to our rapid response we were able to head off any immediate resolutions regarding the invalid 2014 topographical map, but the battle continues. The Pinelands Commission has resolved to look at areas within Wharton that require protection. Open Trails will follow this process every step of the way, assist where possible, and fight against any overly restrictive policies. Open Trails NJ has been fighting to protect your rights for 8 months and we will continue to do so for as long as it takes. Today, we are announcing OTNJ membership! You can support OTNJ by volunteering, becoming a member or both. Our yearly membership price is $25, however, for a limited time, we are offering our memberships for a discounted price of $20! By joining you Open Trails, you will get the following: Our exclusive Open Trails decal, Open Trails Membership card and a Quarterly Newsletter. Additional member benefits will be added over time!

Click here to Join!

Get Involved with OTNJ!

_DSC2650As you enjoy this spring like day, remember that spring is right around the corner and will be bringing with it more volunteer opportunities with OTNJ. We need your help! If you haven’t already,
please sign up to volunteer with us. You can contribute as much or as little as you like! Please click here for details and sign up today!

Click here!

 

 

Update on Pinelands Commission Meeting

The meeting went extremely well. Thanks to all who came out to support and especially those who spoke. Everyone made thoughtful, intelligent, and reasonable comments and it was clear the Commission was listening to us. The MAP opposition significantly, and visibly, outnumbered the MAP supporters. There was no action taken today and the Commission committed to reviewing the comments from today as well all the feedback that came in leading up to the meeting and decide what, if anything, they may recommend. OTNJ will continue to monitor this situation and alert you if any action is required.

Pinelands Commission CMP Policy and Implementation Committee Meeting

Your help is needed! There will be a meeting of the Policy and Implementation Committee of the Pinelands Commission on Friday, 1/29/16 at 9:30 AM. On the agenda is a “Discussion of DEP’s Motorized Access Plan for Wharton State Forest.” That discussion takes place right before Public Comment. This meeting is open to the public. It is important that the Pinelands Commission hear from the members of OTNJ. If you are able, please plan to attend this meeting.

When: Friday, January 29th 9:30 AM

Where:
Richard J. Sullivan Center
Terrence D. Moore Room
15 C Springfield Road
Pemberton, NJ 08064

Meetings:
http://www.nj.gov/pinelands/home/meetings/index.shtml

Agenda
http://www.nj.gov/…/home/mee…/documents/012916p&i_agenda.pdf

Article on Wharton State Forest

This article should serve as a reminder that continued vigilance is needed on this matter.  The state has continued to confirm that there is no timeline for a new plan.  They also mention enforcement and technology as part of the solution (which is also OTNJ’s position) and don’t mention mass closures.  However, the fact of the matter is, there will be a new plan at some point.  OTNJ will continue to represent the rights of responsible users of the forest and help make sure the new plan is fair and will actually solve the issues in the forest.

Courier Post Article

Volunteer Activity at Double Trouble State Park

Date: January 23, 2016

Time: Tentatively 9:00 AM, temperature permitting.

Location: Double Trouble State Forest

The State Park Service asked OTNJ to pass along this important volunteer opportunity. Note: this is not the OTNJ activity we mentioned in an earlier post, more to follow on that as soon as it is approved.

There is a project in Double Trouble State Park to thin about 10 acres of forest. The purpose is to remove stunted Dog Hair Pine trees, which will allow the larger trees to flourish and to prevent the invasion of the Southern Pine Beetle in that area. About 100 volunteers are needed to cut down the small, pre identified, Dog Hair Pine trees with bow saws. What is cut down will be left in place and will be eventually burned in a prescribed fire rotation. With a 100 volunteers, at about 10 volunteers per acre, quick work could be made of this important project!

This is a great opportunity to show that this community wants to make a difference in helping our state forests!

We will post more specifics in this event as the date approaches. Feel free to share!

Note: exact time is TBD, 10:00 AM is an aproximation.

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