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Pinelands is urging responsible off-roading


Peter Vahry:
Deep in the Pinelands, Albert Horner's SUV brushed against huckleberry bushes and low-hanging tree limbs while bumping along a narrow sandy road toward Jemima Mount - a once-picturesque hillside in Wharton State Forest.

On the way, Horner navigated through scarred, battlefieldlike landscape, past massive ruts, water-filled holes, mud wallows, and felled trees.

"You feel like it's the Wild West out here - just insanity," said Horner, 69, a longtime Medford Lakes resident and member of the board of trustees of the Pinelands Preservation Alliance (PPA), a nonprofit advocacy group.

Beyond tall pine trees in the distance, he spotted the disfigured, craggy Jemima Mount - favorite haunt of off-road-vehicle enthusiasts. Fresh imprints of large tire treads were everywhere, along with beer cans from partygoers who sit around bonfires while four-wheel-drive SUVs claw their way up the hill.

The site in Burlington County is one of more than 100 damaged tracts in the Pine Barrens, which is visited on weekends by off-road vehicles from across New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York, Delaware, and Maryland, state and preservation officials say.



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