Hang on because there is some important stuff going on in Oceano Dunes SVRA (Pismo Beach) and an announcement from the BLM. First though, some SDORC stuff. We are holding our 15th Lost Lizard Fun Run this coming November 9 largely because of the work Audrey Mason has been doing. She is chair of the event and has been working hard on the permit application. Did I say working hard? How does 14 hours on her day off sound? Three Sundays in a row. Or on the phone while at work arguing with the Imperial County Health Department over a permit from them (different from the BLM permit). Lining up people to run checkpoints, getting raffle prizes, bringing in a food truck, making a route, getting porta potties etc. Then we learn there will be a lantern festival down Wheeler Rd at the exact same time! Please plan on coming out and participating in this event. It is our big fundraiser and we have designed it to be a lot of fun. Also a big thanks to Austin Dvorak and Rick Moore for putting flyers in shops all over the county. It is this kind of help that allows us to do the other work to protect off-roading. We still need to staff one more checkpoint; if you want to help while having a lot of fun, email us at [email protected]. Our theme this year is Super Heroes. Now for the updates.
Pismo, otherwise known as Oceano Dunes SVRA, the only beach in California you can legally drive on, is under attack. A few months ago I wrote about the local air resources people cracking down on Pismo. They told State Parks they had to form a plan to reduce dust from the OHV area. People who just moved into new homes downwind of the park are complaining. That was tough, as it will close acres. State Parks agreed to create a Public Works Plan to address the dust and other issues in Oceano Dunes and State Parks was working with the Coastal Commission on this plan. Just recently the California Coastal Commission announced that the staff recommends that off-road vehicles are incompatible with the area. Who is the staff? The Coastal Commission has appointed commissioners who process a lot of permits and have other tasks, so they need professional staff to help. State Parks was really caught off guard here. The Coastal Commission recently held a public meeting to take input from the public on extending their permit. Members of the public were allowed to comment for one minute each and comments went on for over six hours. Amy Granat, from CORVA, had 1000 bright stickers made saying keep the dunes open and passed them all out. There were passionate comments both for and against off-roading in the park. The most important comment came from Lisa Mangat, the director of the Department of Parks and Recreation. She said she was surprised by the staff recommendations and asked that State Parks should be allowed to complete the Public Works Plan before any action is taken. The commission agreed with Lisa and gave State Parks one year to complete their plan. This is a reprieve, but there is still a lot of work to be done by Parks and we don’t know how this will play out next year.
I have some good news from the BLM, but first a little background. The BLM has five offices in the California desert and together they make up the California Desert District (CDD). The CDD has an advisory group that gives advice to the BLM. It can have from 9 to 15 members and the BLM takes their input very seriously. It is known as the Desert Advisory Council, or DAC. Members include representatives from a wide range of desert users. The DAC is like a commission for the BLM. It is designed to be a liaison between the general public and the BLM.
I would like to announce that I have been appointed to the DAC to represent off-highway vehicle users for the next three years. I just had my first meeting in Barstow sitting up front and it was a great experience. The previous day they held an all-day tour that I attended. DAC members can go in BLM vehicles and are encouraged to switch cars to get time with different staff. I got to know three field office managers and the acting Desert District manager. They are all very nice people who love the land they manage. I asked the managers what their biggest management challenge was and one said processing mining claims while another simply said not enough funding.
At the meeting each member can give a report. In mine I spoke about keeping routes open in the Mojave Trails National Monument, my efforts to keep geothermal energy out of Ocotillo Wells SVRA, and my amazement in seeing wild horses and burrows thriving in the desert and how managing them must be a big challenge. There was a report on the Western Mojave BLM Management Plan (WEMO) and the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan (DRECP). WEMO comments have been collected and the BLM is now sorting through them to complete the management plan. The plan will show what routes are legal to travel in this large area. WEMO is important because if you live in the greater Los Angeles area and go to the desert, you probably go to the WEMO area. This plan should have been done many years ago, but repeated litigation by the Center for Biological Diversity has kept it in court, as the CBD feels there are too many routes. The plan should be finished this fall and we will see if the CBD takes it back to court.
I met the DAC members who were there and they seem like a good group. The environmental representative seemed like a decent guy. We have some stuff in common, like keeping renewable energy and other development out of the places we love. We will likely disagree on how many routes an area should have though. Funny thing about the appointments, the rights-of-way person is a professional archaeologist, while the archaeologist seat went to a regular guy who is an archaeological site steward. Two of the public-at-large members are avid off-roaders while the third is an environmentalist. The commercial guy is a consultant for getting filming permits. Our next meeting will likely be in Palm Springs this December. If you have any issues with BLM land, this is your place to be heard. If you want help, but don’t want to attend, let me know your concerns and I will bring them to the right people. Contact me at [email protected].
I have written about California Trail Users digital maps. At the DAC meeting I learned that they are all free now! Turns out some people were taking them and reselling them, so CTUC decided to just give them away. They get green sticker grants to pay, so they should be OK. Type CTUC into your app store and you can download any or all the maps.
Turns out we couldn’t ride dirt bikes in the Bulls Only rodeo. The county said it could not go with the permit, too dangerous. This is another reason to help get Joel Anderson elected as County Supervisor. He could help us with county permit problems. We had a bunch of bumper stickers made that say “Off-Roaders for Joel Anderson Supervisor” If you want one or more for free, just email us at [email protected] and ask for either the 3″ x 5″ or the 4″ x 7″ sticker. We would love to see these all over East County on trucks and jeeps.