The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection has embarked on a new process to learn how park users recreate in Wharton State Forest, the single largest tract of land within the New Jersey State Park System.
Welcoming over 800,000 visitors a year from around New Jersey and from across the country, it is vital that park managers hear from you, the park user, about your recreational experiences in Wharton State Forest, especially the places within the forest that you enjoy driving.
This process launched on Tuesday, September 27, at 6 p.m. in a virtual public meeting that outlined a Visitor and Vehicle Use Survey.
Take the Wharton State Forest Visitor and Vehicle Use Survey by clicking one of the two links below. This process will aid the Department in developing a new map of Wharton State Forest which identifies sensitive areas and designates motorized routes of off highway roadways. Upon completion, these efforts to define vehicle access will serve as the model for other protection of state-managed lands throughout the Pinelands region.
Submissions to the survey will close at 11:59 p.m. on October 28.
Wharton State Forest is within the New Jersey Pinelands, a more than 1 million acre region that is recognized for its unique natural resources and is classified as a National Biosphere Reserve of national and international significance.
Located within Wharton State Forest is Batsto Village, a former bog iron and glassmaking industrial center from 1766 to 1867 that reflects the agricultural and commercial enterprises that existed in New Jersey during the late 19th century. The forest is also home to Atsion Recreation Area, which is a popular destination for picnicking, swimming and exploring. Wharton State Forest contains multiple rivers and streams for canoeing, hiking trails, miles of unpaved roads for mountain biking and horseback riding, and numerous lakes, ponds and fields ideal for wildlife observation. Nine campgrounds are dispersed throughout the forest, two of which are only accessible by foot or paddle.
Wharton boasts some 575 species of plants, including wild orchids, sedges, grasses and insect-eating plants. Rare plants include the bog asphodel, swamp pink and Pine Barrens gentian. The predominant trees are the pitch pine, various oak species, and Atlantic white cedar.
Learn more on Wharton State Forest's webpage.
While no date is currently set, the State Park Service expects the next virtual public meeting to take place in early 2023.