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.
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