ATV riders destroy hundreds of trees planted by kids from a Jersey YMCA

Mike Dougherty
August 24, 2019 - 6:00 am
Cranberry bogs in the Pine Barrens, New Jersey

Lisa McCabe/Getty Images​


PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) —  A group of young people planted hundreds of trees in the Pine Barrens earlier this month in partnership with a YMCA in Medford, New Jersey. Unfortunately, it seems that their hard work to preserve the area has gone to waste. 

We planted 400 Atlantic White Cedars today with @ymcaofthepines in a wetland area that was severely degraded by off-road vehicles. #pinelandsnationalreserve #pinebarrens #savethesource #newjersey #southjersey

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Jason Howell with the Pinelands Preservation Alliance says the trees were destroyed by people who drove ATVs over them. He says the land is unsupervised, so it's known as a free-for-all.

"It's an area that used to be farmed. It was a cranberry farm, then it was a blueberry farm, and then a developer bought it and essentially abandoned the property," Howell said. 

About 400 trees were planted as part of a plan to create a wildlife preserve there.

Howell says state officials wouldn't allow any building on the site, which has turned into a dumping ground. His group has been trying to clean up the place, but they can't keep up. He says it was very obvious the trees were just put into the ground and the off-roaders didn't care at all.

"Where these vehicles are coming in from, it's totally unmanaged, unpatrolled, unregulated state forest property, which is Brendan T. Byrne State Forest."

He says the area has essentially become lawless.

A representative from the YMCA told KYW Newsradio that the kids were disappointed to learn all of their hard work was ruined in a matter of minutes.