The state is buying a 224-acre former sand and gravel strip mine in South Jersey to create an ATV park, part of an effort by the Department of Environmental Protection to stop illegal off-road vehicle and dirt bike riding in state parks and in the Pinelands.
DEP Deputy Commissioner John S. Watson said his department has spent $1.2 million in Green Acres funds to purchase the old strip mining tract in the Pinelands in Monroe, Gloucester County. Plans call for creation of a second such park in Ocean County.”
Forests, wildlife and natural areas are suffering greatly because of illegal use,” Watson said, adding ATV use conflicts with other state park uses, like hiking and horseback riding, and is detrimental to the parks.
The project has the support of the Pinelands Commission and off-road advocates, but is opposed by environmentalists. Watson said the proposed Sahara Sands Inc. site is about 60 percent mined and 40 percent forest.The DEP is also in the early stages of locating an off-road facility in Ocean County “east of the Parkway,” Watson said.