Wharton State Forest Update

  On Friday February 23, 2024 members of seven sportsmen’s groups met with Assistant Commissioners Golden and Cecil to discuss our concerns over the proposed road closures and the effects they would have on our constituents.  The meeting was productive in that all of our positions were made clear.  We all had a problem with not being part of the group that has started the plan and produced the current map of road closures. We were told that this plan is just a starting point not carved in stone and there will be modifications to the proposal before final adoption.  We are now going to have representation on the panel moving forward with any new modified plans that come out.  Some of the ideas kicked around were a seasonal closure with most of the roads being open from September 1 through March with special consideration given to the six-day firearms deer season and doe days.  The NWTF would need the same accommodation in spring to allow maximum use by their hunters.  We talked about a valid license being needed by our hunters, trappers and fishermen. There were mixed feelings on this one.  We talked at length about enforcement and enhanced penalties for violators who are apprehended. It was emphasized that effective law enforcement was important if any plan was to succeed. The Attorney General has put together a nine-page document explaining what law enforcement can do which will be very helpful.  We may have been brought into the planning late but now we have a seat at the table. The good thing is that no one is looking for a fight at this time.  I will keep you informed as we move forward but do not go away, I may need your support down the line if we have to go to war. We have met with several key legislators to make them aware of the problem and give them our key points.  If you have not commented on the plan please go on and do so.  We need big numbers to offset the opposition.  Make your comments at: https://www.nj.gov/dep/parksandforests/wharton.  Time is running out.

Ed Markowski, President

New Jersey Outdoor Alliance

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