This month we will be talking about trouble on Otay Mountain, our bill being signed into law, Carnegie SVRA, OHMVR Division birthday, Superstition / bombing range fence, the Rebelle Rally, Desert Advisory Council meeting, and the Lost Lizard Fun Run.
Otay Mountain is a huge mountain in south San Diego County right by the border. There are a couple of green sticker routes over the mountain that are regularly used and the view from the top is spectacular. Last Spring one of our members (Nicole) drove over Otay Mountain and noticed there was a lot of trash along the trail. We decided to organize a cleanup on the mountain and work with the BLM. We had the cleanup a few weeks ago and picked up about two full size truck beds with trash. We put on cleanups not only to make the areas cleaner, but also to let the agencies know that we care about the areas.
A couple days after the cleanup, our contact from the BLM called and told us he heard the Border Patrol wants to close the west side of Otay Mountain Truck Trail from Pio Pico Campground to the top for six months. This is still being proposed, but a problem we are very concerned about and are working on. This was talked about at the recent BLM Desert Advisory Council meeting, so it is a real threat.
SDORC has a state lobbyist we share with the ASA and CORVA. This past year our coalition sponsored AB-232, named “Off-highway vehicles: reciprocity”. This bill has to do with California recognizing out of state vehicle registrations. If you drive your car to Arizona, for example, they will respect your California road registration. Same if an Arizona resident drives here. Both states recognize each other’s registration. I believe all 50 states have that. Until recently, the same reciprocity applied to OHV registrations. But within the past few years some states have changed their rules, and no longer recognize California OHV registration, requiring an off-roader from California to buy a non-resident OHV permit.
Until this bill, California continued to recognize off-road registration from all other states, whether or not they granted reciprocity. With the passage of AB-232, California will require non-resident permits for visitors from states such as Arizona which do not reciprocate with us. We hope this new law will make these states reconsider their position with off-road registrations and remove their restrictions to California residents. On the very last day of the legislative session, Governor Newsom signed our bill into law. Click here for more details.
We have talked about Carnegie SVRA and the property next door the state purchased 23 years ago specifically to expand Carnegie. For years a nasty neighbor has been working behind the scenes to have the land “preserved” with no off-road vehicle use. Every year since 2017 he has gotten bills introduced and every year we have helped beat them back. This year was harder than any other and we could see we were in trouble. Our lobbyist worked with State Parks and Amy Granat of CORVA to try to improve the situation. What they did is get language added to the last bill of the session, the budget trailer bill. In that bill they got the state to pay the Off Highway part of State Parks almost $30 million dollars. In the prior bill to force the state to sell the land it was only $9 million. The bill also directed the state to find another area to open a new State Vehicular Recreation Area. While many people in the know say it is highly unlikely that this will happen, there is a chance and we will be doing our best to make it happen.
Speaking about our lobbyist, Kathy Lynch, she has been nominated for an award from the Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame (ORMHOF) called the Impact Award for advocacy. I am planning to go to Las Vegas for the ORMHOF induction ceremony and introducing Kathy to people there. It is a great event, where you can rub elbows with off-road racing stars and other famous industry folks.
The Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation (OHMVR) Division of State Parks turned 50 years old and they put on a big shindig at Hungry Valley SVRA. I attended and got to talk shop with a lot of OHV advocates and agency staff. Was a lot of fun and I got to ride some trails after as well. If you have never been, Hungry Valley is worth a trip. Parks is also working on a new General Plan for Hungry Valley. I looked over the preferred alternative and I don’t see anything toxic to us.
The recent Rebelle Rally is an all-female competition where competitors have to find checkpoints with only paper maps and compasses, no electronics. Our own Audrey and Nicole slugged it out with the other competitors.
Desert Advisory Council meeting
I’d like to go over some of the topics discussed at the recent meeting of the Desert Advisory Council. First, each of the five field office managers gave an update on activities going on in their area. Then, there were some presentations and other discussions. There was a presentation on big horn sheep. When you drive to Las Vegas and see mountains along the way, most have sheep wandering around. 104 of the sheep have radio tags that tell where they are. Populations are holding steady now.
El Mirage open area is getting about 1500 acres added. Some are inholdings (private land inside the official perimeter) and the fence is pushed out some in a spot. A windmill near Ocotillo has collapsed and as a result, all the windmills have been shut down until the cause is identified. Devils Canyon runs directly under highway 8 going into the desert. It has been adopted by the club Tierra Del Sol and the BLM allows one run per month for seven months of the year. TDS has three or four of those run days. Devil’s Canyon is a very difficult trail and only the most experienced drivers with highly capable vehicles should join in.
There are plans being formulated for a solar project between El Centro and Glamis. The BLM has hired two additional advanced EMT’s to provide medical services to ISDRA visitors. Road repair is taking place at Lower and Upper Lark Canyon, Grey’s Well, Wash Road, San Sebastian, Gecko Road, and Roadrunner Campground. Subgroups are being formed for ISDRA, Dumont and Mojave Trails NM. I plan on attending Mojave Trails meetings.
The BLM is working on a wild horse gather for October 2021 to remove up to 250 horses from the Centennial Herd management Area on the Navy Air Weapons Station – China Lake. Management level is 168 horses and it is estimated that there are 750 horses currently out there. The BLM continues to implement the 2015 West Mojave Route Network Project. The Center for Biological Diversity’s lawsuit against the routes was not discussed.
Superstition / bombing range fence
Mary Dreusike, from the Navy in El Centro, came to our last meeting to talk about the new fence between Superstition open area and the bombing range to the north-east. The smooth wire fence is in place, but reflectors still need to be installed. We told Mary that if the fence turns out to be not visible enough, we would like to work with her to make it so.
Lost Lizard Fun Run
The 16th Lost Lizard Fun Run is fast approaching on November 13. This event is very important to our organization, so please come join us for the fun. We hear there will be Nerf Guns at one of the checkpoints. Pre-registration may be closed when you read this, but please come out and sign up at the event. There will be food, ice cream, event shirts, a huge raffle and a fun route. You can make it a day trip, as signup goes until 11:00 am.
SDORC is a membership organization. You can go to sdorc.org and become a member for just $25/year and help us to protect our right to off-road.