Outdoor Club of South Jersey

Wharton State Forest Motorized Access Plan FAQs 

What is the Wharton State Forest Motorized Access Plan?   The Wharton State Forest Motorized Access Plan is designed to make the many activities available in the Forest accessible to visitors driving on-road motor vehicles, while also preserving and protecting the Forest’s precious and irreplaceable natural environment.  

The Plan includes a detailed map that shows the 225 miles of open roads within the Forest and informs both first-time and long-time visitors to the park of the many opportunities to enjoy this beautiful and unique environment.  

Why is the State Park Service implementing this Plan? The State Park Service is implementing this plan to ensure wide and safe access to the Forest while also ensuring that the Forest is protected for today’s visitors and future generations.  

The funding for developing this plan was provided by the federal government to promote better access to the Forest for on-road motor vehicles and to protect the safety of the many visitors using the park on foot, bicycle, or horseback. 

What will the Wharton State Forest Motorized Access Plan accomplish? The new Motorized Access Plan will:  Promote responsible recreation in the Forest.  Increase awareness and interpretation of the impacts motorized recreation can have on the Forest resources.  Improve stewardship and protection of the natural and cultural resources in the Forest.  Focus maintenance efforts on the designated routes.  Promote access to new visitors.

 

 Improve coordination and access for emergency response including forest fires, search and rescue operations and severe storm response.  Streamline and coordinate education and enforcement efforts. 

How many miles of roads are open for on-road motor vehicles under the new plan? Approximately 225 miles of routes throughout the Forest will be OPEN for public motorized access.  That is equivalent to almost twice the length of the New Jersey Turnpike. The majority of all roads within the Forest will remain open for public motorized access. 

How is this new Plan different from previously designated motorized access within Wharton State Forest?  The majority of all routes that have been designated for motorized public use in the past will remain open to public motorized access. See attached maps from 1997 and 2003. They are very similar. 

Are the non-designated routes (or dotted lines) on the M.A.P completely closed to the general public? No.  All non-designated routes will remain open to foot traffic, horseback riding and bicycling.  

How will this plan affect my ability to get to my favorite locations within Wharton State Forest?  No part of the 125,000-acre Wharton State Forest is more than about one mile from a paved road or a sand road that is designated "open" to on-road motor vehicles under the M.A.P.   

Will I still be able to drive to historic sites in the Forest? Yes.  The M.A.P. directs visitors to many sites of historic significance throughout the Forest. 

Will I still be able to drive to kayak and canoe launch sites in the Forest? Yes.  The M.A.P. directs visitors to designated kayak and canoe launching sites throughout the Forest. Parking is available at the Forest’s launch sites that are accessible by motor vehicle.

 

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Will disabled visitors have access to the Forest? The Americans with Disabilities Act and the State Park Service policy regarding Use of Mobility Devices will ensure disabled visitors can access the Forest. 

Can I bring my ATV on these designated routes? No.  ATVs are not permitted on any lands administered by the State Park Service. 

Will approved enduros continue to be permitted in the State Forest? Yes.  Enduros will continue to be permitted by authorizing one-day Special Use Permits.  This Plan will not change the present Enduro Management Plan and the SPS policy regarding Organized Competitive and Recreational Motorized Vehicle Events and Activities. 

Will Forest Firefighters or other emergency responders still have access to the Forest?  Yes, in fact the Plan will improve emergency response.  Focused maintenance and repairs will facilitate quicker response time, access, and safety for first responders.    A secondary and key benefit of the M.A.P. is that these designated routes are also primary fire breaks, thus also improving access to first responders. 

  Was a new law passed to allow this Motorized Access Plan to happen? No, the NJ State Park Service Administrative Code has long authorized the prudent control of motorized vehicles on state lands.    

Where can I find the map online? Please visit the Wharton State Forest webpage at http://www.njparksandforests.org/parks/maps/wsf_motorized_access_plan.pdf  to view the entire M.A.P.   

Will stakeholders have a chance to express their views about this plan? Yes, a series of meetings are being scheduled.  The first ones are anticipated to occur in September 2015. These meetings will provide

 

representatives of various stakeholders and user groups with a detailed presentation regarding the M.A.P. and an opportunity for feedback. 

How can I get notice of when the stakeholder meetings will take place? Invitations will be sent out to the stakeholder groups. Leaders of interested organizations that use the Forest should contact the State Park Service at (609) 704-1964 to be sure they are included. 

Where can I send my comments on the M.A.P.? Individuals can send their comments to whartonmapcomments@dep.nj.gov.

  

Is this M.A.P. ever going to change?  Will more roads/routes be opened? Yes, this M.A.P. is a work in progress. The State Park Service will continually evaluate the effectiveness of the M.A.P. to ensure that it meets the goals of promoting access to the Forest and preserving and protecting the Forest’s environment. 

Will the State Park Service be blocking non-designated motorized recreation routes with trees, guardrails, gates, or other barricades? No.  Many areas may be posted with appropriate signage but access will remain open for enforcement, first responders, forest fire personnel, and other permitted uses.   

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