Can our Pinelands handle the abuse it is being dealt?
Nearly a decade ago I made a very concise decision, a wise decision I might add, to record the photographic beauty of the New Jersey Pinelands National Reserve, a.k.a The Pine Barrens. Not long after making that choice I realized that perhaps my images could help to raise awareness of the Pinelands and preserve this internationally recognized ecosystem (UNESCO World Heritage 1988). As the portfolio of Pinelands images grew it became clear that a book of Pinelands images, no one had published a fine art photographic book dealing with the Pinelands, could be invaluable. That dream came true in April of this year.
Since the original concept of preserving the Pinelands back in the late 70's there have been numerous threats to its existence and future. Most of these threats many of us have heard, development, pipelines, habitat destruction, over use of water, just to name a few. One of the largest problems, in my eye, is the destruction caused by off-road vehicles a.k.a dirtbikes, ATVs and over muscled 4 x 4 Jeep type vehicles. The purpose of my images has always been to expose the beauty of the Pinelands. Off-road vehicle users consider the land to be a motorized sports arena, that mindset is causing irreparable damage to our public lands. I don't believe anyone would entertain having 25 or 30 4x4 trucks, ATVs or dirt bikes running through their lawn, garden or private wooded sanctuary. So why is it okay to run these vehicles through OUR state forest? What good comes from the noise, mud, grease, rutted roadways and destroyed wetlands? This is all quite the opposite of the beauty I attempt to share.
Recently there has been a ray of hope in exposing this problem to the public and a volunteer effort to help rein it in. Asbury Park Press reporter Todd Bates recently wrote a very informative and wonderfully written three part series on the problems existing in the Pinelands, one of problems cited was about off-road vehicle destruction. Earlier this week I worked with The Philadelphia Inquirer reporter, Edward Colimore, on the same issue. Hopefully the Inquirer article will appear as soon as Sunday. On the volunteer front I have been working along with Rob Auermuller, Supt. of Wharton State Forest, with a group of Pineland Lovers to help with issues needing attention in the forest, one of which is off-road vehicle destruction. Pinelands Preservation Alliance was recently awarded a grant to fund a permanent volunteer group for Wharton S.F., provide needed tools and equipment, and do restoration work to 22 areas within Wharton that have been ravaged by off-road vehicle assaults.
So, this is what has been occupying much of my time most recently, it is a cause worthy of my attention. The focus is needed to turn around a really hideous situation and preserve the beauty I find in the Pine Barrens so I, and others, can have it in the viewfinder for years to come.
I now have accounts with Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. If you use any of these social media platforms please follow or friend me.
Facebook:@ Albert Horner and my book as a page as well, Pinelands: New Jersey's Suburban Wilderness
August 4th, 2015- Margate City Public Library, 8100 Atlantic Avenue, Margate, NJ 08402, 609-822-4700
6:30 PM Pinelands talk and book signing
Sept 11th, 2015 - Medford Memorial Community Center, 21 S. Main St., Medford, NJ 08055, 609-654-2598
This is a major exhibit produced with renowned Pinelands watercolorist Terry Schmidt.
Reception - Sept. 13th, 1 to 5 PM. Refreshments will be served. Hope everyone within range of Medford can attend. I will be showing new work and Terry will have a wonderful selection of her Pinelands watercolors.
That's it for now. Thank you for your support and hope to see you in the woods or at one of my events.