lost-lizard-trans

With considerable discussion and reluctance, the SDORC Board of Directors has decided to cancel this year’s Lost Lizard Off Road Fun Run because, well, you know. We are hoping to have some sort of fundraiser late in the season; stay tuned for more.

Please be aware the Fun Run is our major fundraiser; this cancellation will have a significant impact on our budget. If you can afford to donate (www.sdorc.org/donate-to-sdorc) or become a member ($25 for one year: https://sdorc.org/join-sdorc) now would be a good time. Thank you for your support!

President’s Message

September Update

Big news at Oceano Dunes: The county supervisor who opposed off-roading in the dunes, Adam Hill, whose office was recently raided by the FBI, has committed suicide. While it is a human tragedy, now we may never know why he was being investigated. It was alleged he was taking bribes, possibly from marijuana people and, some believe, Shea Homes, the developer who built homes near Oceano Dunes and has two more subdivisions planned. We are supporting Stacy Korsgaden for replacement. She ran against Hill in the recent election, supports OHV in Oceano Dunes, lost the election by fewer than 600 votes and was a guest on SDORC Radio last month.

After more than a year, our state parks off-road vehicle program has a new deputy director, Sarah Miggins. Sarah has been on the Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Commission for a few years now. She has experience running several environmental organizations and is a Democrat. Before you get upset about the appointment, you should also know she owns a Jeep and is OK with responsible off-road vehicle use. While on the commission we never saw her look toward off-roading in a negative way. She is a governor appointment and given that our governor is a very left-leaning Democrat, we should be pretty thankful to have gotten a very reasonable deputy director. I believe she will serve us well and I plan to interview her for next month’s issue.

We had our first outdoor meeting last month in the park by Lindo Lake in Lakeside and it was pretty nice being outside. Thanks, Audrey, for bringing the pizza, and we just may be there a few more times on the first Tuesday of the month until restaurants are reopened.

Congratulations to our longtime supporter and treasurer Rob Smith for making it to the other side and retiring. Rob has been essential to the success of our Lost Lizard Fun Run for many years and I hope to continue working with him in the future.

There has been activity with the two bills we are watching in Sacramento. SB1024, the bill that would allow red sticker racing motorcycles and ATVs to continue to be used on public land (with the operator carrying a racing license) has been moving. Bills have to pass through committees in both the Assembly and Senate and this bill, which has already gone through the Senate, is now in the Assembly. It recently was heard in the Assembly Transportation Committee, where it passed through on a 10 to 2 vote. I was able to call in and tell the committee that SDORC supports this bill. Next, the bill moves to Assembly Appropriations.

The bill we are actively opposing, AB3030, is also moving. It passed through the Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee on a 6 to 2 vote. This is the bill that would “protect” 30% of California’s land and water. This bill has been amended several times and, while there has been some improvement, it is still not satisfactory to us. I thought this amendment would help: “The International Union for Conservation of Nature has established guidance related to access, resource use, and visitation in protected areas, providing that if activities are compatible with a protected area’s objectives, and they are permitted within the terms governing the protected area, the activities may be allowed.” The problem is with the word “may”. We would prefer that word be changed to “shall”. With the word “may” we have no assurance that our areas will remain open for our use. What may ultimately kill this bill is that it has some costs involved and with the State having greatly reduced tax revenue, every unnecessary cost will probably be denied.

From the Americans for Responsible Recreation Access Newsletter: “On July 22, the powersports industry and off-highway enthusiasts nationwide welcomed the passage of the Great American Outdoors Act (H.R. 7092) in the House by a bipartisan vote of 310-107 and the President signed the bill into law.” And Erik Pritchard, MIC President and CEO, said: “On behalf of the U.S. powersports industry, thank you, Congress, for passing the Great American Outdoors Act (GAOA). It not only boosts recreation opportunities across the U.S., but it also supports the nation’s economy. The GAOA addresses the $20 billion maintenance backlog facing our public lands and waters, and will provide infrastructure for the recreational community, improving public lands for motorcycle, ATV, side-by-side, and snowmobile enthusiasts across the country. This funding will ensure that adequate infrastructure for all types of recreation on U.S. public lands and waters can support rural communities and economies.”

This bill will send money to the Bureau of Land Management and National Forests and should directly help San Diego off-roaders.

August Update

There is a variety of topics affecting off-roaders this month and, surprise, some are pretty good for us. Sierra National Forest is going through the process to approve about 29 miles of new trails. There is a comment period open now and we are submitting comments in support of the project. This million-plus acre forest is east of the Bay area.

The El Centro BLM office is looking for comments on building a new ranger station in the Glamis area by Gecko Road. The current station consists of two mobile homes bolted together and they want to build a proper station with facilities to better serve guests in the dunes. We are submitting comments in support of the new station.

During the pandemic, Ocotillo Wells was open, then closed, then opened and then closed. The whole park is closed as of this writing and we have no idea when it will open again. We do know that COVID cases in Imperial County remain high, partly due to people coming up from Mexicali for treatment and overfilling the local hospitals.

We almost had our second general meeting at Ranch House Restaurant since COVID closed them, but the day before the meeting the owner called and said the governor had closed restaurants again. Maybe next month?

Over in the Cleveland National Forest at Corral Canyon there will be a cleanup on October 10. If you have been to the previous ones, you know it’s a lot of fun. It’s a good excuse to get out there and drive or ride around, help the area, have a snack and maybe win some cool prizes.

Up in Sacramento there are two bills moving; one we support, the other we oppose unless amended. The bill we support, SB1024, will make it so red sticker racing motorcycles and ATVs can continue to be registered and used on public land after the red sticker program officially ends in the beginning of 2022. The catch is that to use a race bike on public land you will need to possess a racing license, but that is a lot better than no access at all. At first, I thought this bill wouldn’t have a chance, but there is something about bringing money into the state that persuades people. I think this bill has a real shot now.

The bill we don’t like is AB3030, which has the state “protect” 30% of the land and water in the state. The bill doesn’t define protect, so that makes it difficult. Our lobby group asked the author to exclude land designated for off-road vehicle use from the 30% of “protected” land.

Over at Pismo we still have trouble. We have four state agencies duking it out there: the California Coastal Commission, the Air Resources Board and Fish and Wildlife all giving State Parks a hard time for allowing off-road vehicles on the beach. Never mind that vehicles have been driving around there for over a hundred years. An old legislative expert told me that when state agencies have fundamental disagreements like this, it goes up to the governor’s office. In this case, Governor Newsom and Wade Crowfoot, Secretary for Natural Resources, will likely decide the fate of off-road vehicles in Oceano Dunes.

On our side is the fact that the place gets about 1-1/2 million visits each year. That is a lot of votes. Our VP, Audrey Mason, and I talked quite a bit about Oceano on our radio show the last two months. Yes, we have SDORC Radio on the last Sunday of each month at 1:00 pm on AM 1170 and FM 96.1 with Dave Stall. Dave is the guy who gets us on KUSI TV weekend mornings periodically. Two months ago, we had Jim and Jared from Friends of Oceano Dunes come on and talk about the problems there. Last month I spoke at length about the conspiracy theory many insiders believe. This unproven theory says that Shea Homes, the company that has developed a subdivision and wants to do two more near the Pismo dunes, has been bribing people in the Coastal Commission, the Air Resources Board and the County Supervisor. Three people have been championing closing the park to vehicles in uncharacteristic ways. Suspicion reached a high when county supervisor Adam Hill, who has spoken publicly about wanting vehicles off the beach, had his office raided by the FBI and his computer taken. Hours later he unsuccessfully tried to commit suicide. We don’t know details from the FBI raid, but it may have something to do with him being on “the take” from a number of sources.

Tune into our show for entertaining land use radio and if you would like to advertise with us on the air, maybe even come on and talk about your business, let us know and we will get you on.

Read past President’s Messages

See Friends of Oceano Dunes website: https://www.oceanodunes.org/

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