The Pine Barrens 4×4 Clean-Up is a volunteer event that has been taking place in the New Jersey Pine Barren since 2001. For the 15th anniversary of the clean-up, several dozen 4-wheel-drive enthusiants gathered at Whitesbog Historic Village in Brendan T. Bynre State Forest on October 24 to offer their time, energy, and 4-wheel-drive vehicles to the effort.
In spite of existing laws and fines against illegal dumping, the volunteers are always able to find something to keep them busy, from random beer cans to boats that were dragged into the woods and left there. This year was no exception.
The volunteers met at the Whitesbog General Store at 10 A.M. and then broke out into several smaller groups to search the networks of trails for trash.
This wooden fence was the first thing we found.
Most of it was broken into easy-to-move pieces, but it all fit in one pick-up truck.
This pan and cloth were what was left over after someone apparently performed an oil change in the woods. We wrapped it in two trash bags to keep the muck from spilling.
The next pile we found looked like 2x4s and 4x4s that came from a deck.
While cleaning up the timber, someone also found a tire.
In another area not far away, we found bags full of leaves. We went through them and pulled out the bags and any trash, like a discarded hose nozzle.
We got word that someone found a massive dump site, so we returned to two dumpsters that were stationed behind the general store at Whitesbog Village. Everything we picked up was taken back there and unloaded.
Back at the dumpsters, we met up with another group that found several tires, planks, and filled up several bags of trash. They teamed up with us after unloading for the largest pile yet.
When we saw this mess, we knew we were going to be there a while.
It looked like the contents of a small house were just dumped by the side of the trail.
We couldn’t jump right into cleaning it up because we had to wait for a detective to photograph the scene and look for any name or address evidence that could lead to a charges against the person who dumped all the trash.
After the detective left, the clean-up work began.
The pile included clothes, unopened food, furniture, photos, various collectibles, books, tax papers, bank statements, small appliances – an elderly couple’s entire life.
We had a good group of people, but it seemed like the pile was never-ending.
After a few hours, we filled up our trucks and trailers and had to send them back to the dumpsters to unload and come back for more.
Eventually, we started to see ground as we reached the bottom of the trash heap. A local resident came by with a backhoe and he pushed all of the smaller pieces into a pile, which we were able to scoop into the backhoe’s bucket.
With all the trucks filled up, we headed back to the dumpsters to unload one final time.
This was the same area once this group was finished. Several other groups headed out to various other locations in Whitesbog and Brendan T. Byrne State Forest.
As the vehicles from various groups pulled up to the dumpsters with trash, everyone pitched in to help unload them.
The tires could not be placed in the dumpsters, so a separate location at Brendan T. Byrne was set aside for them.
This is what one dumpster looked like at the end of the clean-up.
The volunteers are to be commended for all of their hard work. They received nothing but thanks for their time. There was no press there to take their pictures. No reporters there to quote them. No TV cameras to put them on the news or the websites of New Jersey media. No politicians or lobbyists there to use their work to advance any agendas. Most of them came out to the clean-up with very short notice because they care about the Pine Barrens and are more than willing to give back to an area that plays such a large role in their lives.
No single organization is responsible for the clean-up. It happens each year as a result of several individuals and 4×4 clubs that come together to make it happen.
The Pine Barrens 4-Wheel-Drive Clean Up takes place on the 4th Sunday of every October. The meeting time and lcoation of the 2017 clean-up are to be announced.