Driving Into the Pine Barrens, NJ Barry Casseli
March 29, 2009


I was trying to think of short subject line for this post that conveys what I'm about to discuss, and that was the best I could come up with.
I live just south of the vast Wharton State Forest, the largest unit in New Jersey's state parks and forests system, at 114,000+ acres. Surrounding Wharton there are other state parks and forests- Bass River, Penn, and Brendan T. Byrn (formerly Lebanon). Besides that there are the state Wildlife Management Areas, some of them quite large also. And then there are Nature Conservancy preserves, New Jersey Natural Lands Trust preserves, etc. And this is just the north-central part of the Pine Barrens.
Wharton State Forest, all by itself, has between 400 and 500 miles of dirt or sand roads within it.
Okay, that's the background. Since I've lived here for 24 years, and have driven my truck on sand and dirt roads in the woods for over 20 years, I've gotten to know what kinds of people drive in the woods. I've come up with a list of 5 types of people that drive their cars or trucks into the woods (or ATVs). In no particular order:
1) Those with a genuine interest in nature or local history, and those who want to commune with nature. (This is me.)
2) Those who may, or may not, have an interest in nature or local history, but are really just curious about where the road goes, or what they might find at the end of it. They see cool things and have no idea of what they are, and probably don't have enough interest to learn about them later. This type may turn into type #1 or type #3 at a later date.
3) Those who drive out there just to have fun with their truck (or SUV or ATV), and beat the heck out of it, with not a thought or care in the world, about what they are doing to the sand roads or the environment out there. It is of no concern to them. This type has no interest in nature, the environment or local history.
4) Those who drive out there just to get rid of some trash, construction debris, old furniture or appliances, or what have you (illegal dumping). This type may or may not participate in the activities of type #3 as well.
5) Those who go out there just to party, i.e. drink beer and have a good time. When they go home afterwards they invariably leave their trash behind. This type may or may not participate in the activities of type #3 as well.

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