At SDORC we helped with and looked at a lot of land use action this past year and I’d like to go over some of the highlights this month as well as update on what is going on now.
The big news today is that CORVA, with a number of other organizations throughout the country, filed a petition with the Department of Agriculture and the Forest Service to rescind or replace the travel management rule. Most of us reading this don’t spend a great deal of time recreating in National Forests, but in many other parts of the country the National Forests are the only places off-road vehicle use takes place. In 2006, all the forests were required to inventory all their routes, have them inspected by specialists and keep open the ones that pass. A great many routes were overlooked by the forests and closed without any inspection. This legal action seeks to repeal the travel management rule and open a great many routes.
Our legislative coalition is watching bills being introduced in California and is discussing running one or two of our own bill ideas to improve the OHV program here.
The BLM is accepting applications for membership on the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area (ISDRA) subgroup and Special Recreation Permit (SRP) Subgroup of the California Desert District Advisory Council (DAC). If you love the dunes or want to help with how permitted events are managed, you should consider applying. These groups typically meet four times a year.
Earlier this year, president Trump reduced the size of two national monuments. I had hoped he would do the same for the Mojave Trails National Monument, but so far hasn’t.
The Ocotillo Wells lawsuit was decided in our favor. This was a huge win for state parks and all the users of the park and sets a precedent that will make it much less likely similar legal action will come in the future.
A number of bills were introduced both federally as well as in California. A group of federal Endangered Species Act bills that were introduced are sitting in committee now.
I read and commented on a number of green sticker grant applications and discussed some of the more colorful ones, like a forest asking for operations money for a closed area, a large restoration grant with no materials to purchase. California City wanted $47,800 for a dump truck. What do they need a dump truck for?
The Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan was reopened for comments and I once again asked them to remove Ocotillo Wells from consideration for geothermal energy development. I also asked them to clean up an OHV boundary issue.
I talked quite a bit about CARB’s intention to end the Red Sticker program. Makes me sad that there will be far fewer full-on race bikes sold in California starting in the year 2022. If you love riding hot motorcycles on public land, plan to buy a 2021 model of your favorite brand. CARB is also looking at how to stop people from tampering with certified clean vehicles. It appears they do not understand human nature.
I attended cleanups in Jawbone Canyon, El Mirage, Corral Canyon and Ocotillo Wells. I was awestruck by the size of El Mirage Dry Lake. The Corral Canyon cleanup had a huge turnout and made a significant improvement to the area.
We had a California OHV lobby day. Off-roaders from all over the state went to Sacramento to ask representatives to oppose SB1316, a bill designed to facilitate State Parks’ sale of land in Carnegie SVRA. This bill dies in the last committee in the cycle. We expect a similar bill be introduced in the coming weeks.
Oceano Dunes was singled out by the air pollution people after complaints by new neighbors about dust at their homes. State Parks has offered a plan to reduce dust by closing dune acres available for riding.
SDORC has a “Meetup” group and has led a number of fun night rides in the desert. We will be doing more in the spring and summer.
We talked about event permits and what it takes to stay below the threshold of needing a permit.
We commented on a BLM plan to close OHV routes in San Bernardino County.
I toured Carnegie and Prairie City SVRAs on the way to a State Parks combined commission meeting.
Wildfires burned vast amounts of land in the state recently and closed many miles of routes. A group of concerned activists started an organization called Post Wildfire Recovery Alliance with the objective of reopening trails a quickly as possible. SDORC donated seed money to help them get started.
In January there are three worthwhile events on the same day. The Dunes Cleanup, the San Diego 4 Wheelers Superstition Run and CORVA’s Truckhaven Challenge are all on January 19. All three events help keep the desert open, so make your choice and head out. Look for me at a checkpoint at the Truckhaven Challenge.