DEP BEGINS STEPPED UP PATROLS AT SPLITROCK RESERVOIR
(10/P76) TRENTON - State Conservation Officers and State Park Police are launching expanded patrols of the Splitrock Reservoir in Rockaway Township to assist local police in combating swimming, diving, littering and other illegal activities in the area.
“These steps are necessary to protect the safety of the people who are engaged in these illegal activities,” said Timothy C. Cussen, Chief of the Bureau of Law Enforcement in the DEP’s Division of Fish and Wildlife “We are working closely with the Rockaway Police Department to make sure these activities stop. In addition to extra patrols at the boat launch parking area, we will be sending officers onto the trail around the reservoir. They are prepared to enforce the law to its fullest extent.”
Car top boats such as canoes and kayaks and fishing from boats are permitted in the reservoir. Swimming and diving, however, are not permitted.
The DEP has routinely patrolled a state-owned boat launch and parking area at the reservoir but has not had the authority to issue citations for swimming and diving. The DEP and Rockaway reached an agreement with Jersey City, which owns the reservoir, to allow them to patrol and issue citations.
The agreement allows the Conservation Officers and Park Police to enforce state Wildlife Management Area regulations as well as criminal trespassing laws.
The popularity of the reservoir for swimming and its rocky cliffs for diving has soared recently as the result of videos on the Web, leading to concerns by Rockaway officials who recently placed barriers at the parking area to prevent its use. The barriers have been removed.
The DEP does not believe that the people using the parking area are the same ones who are swimming, diving and littering. However, the DEP wants to help local authorities as much as possible in patrolling the area while working on a long-term management solution for the land around the reservoir.
The DEP officers will be keeping a close eye on anyone who uses the parking area to launch boats and gain access to the reservoir for swimming and diving. Law enforcement presence will be heightened on weekends.
Anyone found in violation of the law can be subject to summons and civil penalties as high as $1,500 and even criminal trespass penalties that could result in jail time.