The BLM Desert Advisory Council (DAC) had a meeting recently (yours truly is on the council). The all-day Zoom meeting covered some topics of interest to off-roaders.
The Western Mojave Route Network project is making progress. Known in our circles as WEMO, it has been litigated for decades by the Center for Biological Diversity. Litigation finally ended and the BLM is marking and fixing routes made official in the plan. The roads into Dumont Dunes are being repaired. Vinagre Wash area got input from Walters Camp to make some new trails. Staff continue to improve the Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail and Backcountry Discovery Trail in El Centro’s area.
Flat-tailed Horned Lizard monitoring took place and they found a total of 151 lizards. This is important because there is a constant threat to Ocotillo Wells with the FTHL being listed as threatened. When the BLM find this many lizards, it bodes well for us.
A resurfacing project in the dunes between Wash 9-14 has been taking place with the goal to make it easier to get back in there when the season begins. The DAC asked the BLM to form advisory groups to look at the Mojave Trails National Monument and for Special Recreation Permits.
There was a presentation on the desert tortoise, the single biggest cause of lost off-road vehicle access in California. They talked about the three biggest threats to the tortoise: vehicle strikes, disease and ravens. For vehicle strikes they have been putting low tortoise fences along highways. Kind of expensive, but saves a lot of them. The disease part was really interesting to me. They looked at a group of tortoises and found them all to have that upper respiratory virus, but no symptoms. They believe that tortoises that were not bothered by the virus survived. The threat that is most trouble is ravens. With intelligence and excellent vison, the raven circles up in the sky looking for critters on the ground. When a clutch of tortoise eggs hatch, a raven will likely see and come down for a meal. The big problem to the species is there are no juveniles. If you ever have seen the big fence around the dumpsters in Ocotillo Wells, you should know that they are there to keep ravens out of the trash and to hopefully keep the raven numbers down.
A reasonable idea to stop the ravens is to shoot them. Problem with that is that they are protected by the Migratory Bird Act. The BLM is talking to Fish and Wildlife about getting a waiver so they can get some ravens.
There was a presentation about the Rebelle Rally that is coming in October. This is a 10-day, all woman, no electronic navigation, competition that will start in Reno and end in the Imperial Sand Dunes. SDORC’s own Audrey Mason and Nicole Honstead will be competing. We will be pulling for them and wish them all the best of luck.
Otay Mountain clean-up
SDORC will be sponsoring a clean-up on Otay Mountain on September 25 from 9:00 am to noon. We noticed there is a fair amount of trash along the routes there and we would like to help out. The BLM will have a dumpster on the east side of the mountain. I will be driving up the west side from Pio Pico campground. Please join us to help out and see the spectacular view from the top of the mountain.
On SDORC Dirt Radio we recently talked about Jeep “Death Wobble”. Many Jeeps suffer from a violent front-end shake at speed after hitting a bump. What is interesting about this is that there is a class action lawsuit being formed about this problem. If your Jeep is old or modified, that is one thing, but some pretty new and stock jeeps have been getting Death Wobble too. We will be watching this and will keep you posted.
Lost Lizard Fun Run
The Lost Lizard Fun Run is fast approaching and we hope all of you will plan to join us. It is a fun event and helps keep our organization viable. We have signed up an ice cream vendor who says anyone in uniform gets a free ice cream. Could be Boy Scouts or military. Pre-registration is now open.