The Christie Administration on Sunday Jan. 13 will hold a special public preview to mark the opening of the first state-owned all-terrain vehicle park, a mostly wooded tract in Woodbine, Cape May County, that once served as a sand mine and later as a private motocross track.
The administration is inviting riders to join officials from the Department of Environmental Protection and local officials in taking a test run of the new Mount Pleasant State Off-Road Vehicle Park, the first regional ATV park to be designated by the DEP. ATV use remains illegal on all other state-owned lands.
“We are very excited to showcase this new park,” said DEP Commissioner Bob Martin. “The Christie Administration is committed to developing managed parks in the state that will provide fans of all-terrain vehicles a safe environment in which to enjoy their sport. Just as important, this park will take pressure off environmentally sensitive lands that are damaged by illegal use of ATVs.”
The DEP is currently developing requests for proposals from bidders interested in running the park under a 10-year operating agreement. Following Sunday’s preview, riders may use the park free of charge until a contractor is hired later this year. The park will be available to riders seven days a week during normal operating hours set for Belleplain State Forest, located nearby. Those hours are currently 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
The DEP worked closely with Woodbine Mayor William Pikolycky and the Borough Council in scouting out the site.
“This new park is going to mean a lot to our borough and surrounding areas,” said Mayor Pikolycky, who also serves as Chairman of the Pinelands Municipal Council. “It’s wonderful that we will have a facility that provides legal recreational riding opportunities for enthusiasts of off-road vehicles. We will look to possibly expand the riding area in the near future. But for now, I look forward to announcing ‘Start Your Engines,’ on January 13th.”
Those interested in participating in two preview riding sessions at 9:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. must obtain a permit at the Belleplain State Forest. The DEP will issue permits on a first-come, first-served basis to the first 25 riders for each of the sessions.
Riders for these sessions must complete an application form and provide validation of identification, current registration issued by the Motor Vehicle Commission, and proof of insurance. For directions to Belleplain, visit: www.njparksandforests.org/parks/belle.html
The DEP purchased the site of the former Mount Pleasant Sand and Gravel operation, located at the intersection of County Routes 550 and 610, in November 2011. The DEP acquired the 63-acre property with $393,000 in Green Acres Program funds.
Ten acres of the property, including an existing 3/4-mile ATV course, will be used initially for the park, with future expansions planned. The park consists of sand pits, sand roads and sandy areas left over from the former mining and motocross operations that provide ideal tracks for off-road vehicles. It is suitable for beginners to intermediate riders.
“With its existing ATV track and sandy moguls in a pine woods setting, this park will provide a great riding experience for many years to come,” said Richard Boornazian, Assistant Commissioner for Natural and Historic Resources. “This also should reduce illegal ATV riding in our state parks and natural lands, which damages sensitive natural resources such as forests, streams and wetlands, and harms plant and animal species and their habitats.”
State Park Service personnel and State Park Police will patrol the park. Rules for use are posted at the park. Users of the park must adhere to the following:
- The park is to be used by ATVs, dirt bikes and snowmobiles only. All vehicles using the new park must be equipped with headlights, taillights, brakes, reflector material and muffler.
- Operators must wear a protective helmet, motorcycle/ATV goggles, over-the-ankle leather boots, long-sleeve shirt, long pants, gloves, wrist guards and kneepads.
- Park users must be at least 14 years old. Anyone less than 16 years of age may not operate an ATV with an engine capacity greater than 90 cubic centimeters.
- All users under the age of 18 must complete an ATV safety education and training course established or certified by the Motor Vehicle Commission, which they must have in their possession.
Legislation enacted in 2009 calls for the DEP to site three regional parks for the use of all-terrain vehicles, dirt bikes and snowmobiles to provide riding opportunities and reduce pressure from illegal and improper use of ATVs, dirt bikes and other off-road vehicles.
The DEP had been searching for suitable sites for regional off-road vehicle parks for a number of years. The DEP is currently working to identify municipalities in central and northern New Jersey willing to help with the development of similar parks in those regions. Under the ATV legislation, the DEP must purchase new land for the parks and may not use existing state park lands.
ATVs must be registered in New Jersey. Registration can be obtained at any of the Motor Vehicle Commission’s 39 agencies for a fee of $17 for in-state residents and $19 for out-of-state riders. Proof of ownership is required.
Logo courtesy New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection