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Pine Mud

In the vast Pinelands National Reserve of southern New Jersey, powerful vehicles topple protected sand dunes and drive circles through ancient ponds. “Off-roading” has grown more popular in the reserve, especially now that smartphones can help anyone navigate the winding trails of the deep forest. But to lump all off-roaders together would be unfair. In addition to those who use their vehicles for illegal destruction, others drive carefully on hundreds of miles of unpaved sand trails, an activity that remains perfectly legal. “Access vs. conservation” is the classic quandary here. The conflict has become bitterly contentious as the destruction of habitat for threatened and endangered species increases and the trails themselves start to deteriorate. Pine Mud takes an intimate look at this trouble in the pines, as seen through the eyes of a gritty but good-natured conservationist.