We’re happy to report that there is not so much bad news this month. Our big announcement is that Yamaha has funded our grant request to put reflectors on the new fence between Superstition open area and the Navy bombing range. We have been following the project for over a year and even had the project coordinator at an SDORC meeting. The fence was finished shortly before the Lost Lizard Fun Run, and after the event I went over to look at the fence. I was surprised that there were only a few small reflectors and the fence was hard to see, especially at night. We figured what it would cost us to put reflectors on the fence and wrote a grant application to Yamaha’s Outdoor Access Initiative. The fence is seven miles long and has 3,633 posts holding three levels of smooth wire. We just found out about our success and are going to order a lot of reflectors, probably 11,000 of them. We will be having a work party in April, so if you have a Jeep or side by side and want to help, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will give instructions. We will talk about it at our next meeting, April 5 at Ranch House Restaurant in Lakeside.
Otay Mountain Truck Trail
The bad news this month is about Otay Mountain Truck Trail. The Border Patrol has gotten Pio Pico Campground to lock the gate at the bottom by Otay Lakes Road. This is the closest green sticker trail to the City of San Diego. The trail is still open, but you can only access it from the east side on Marron Valley Road. I spoke with Amber Craig from the Border Patrol about the closure. She said there is a lot of human trafficking along the road, every day and night. The problem is that there is no border fence on a part of Otay Mountain, so people walk across there and up the mountain. The bad guys hire someone to pick them up at the top and drive them to their new life. There have been a number of chases, including one fatality. The Border Patrol wants to change the way the bad guys do business and locking the gate will help them. For us off-roaders, they said we can get the lock combination at the desk at Pio Pico just by asking. I intend to try that soon. In the meantime, we will have to deal with the trouble. If only we had a complete fence….
SDORC is teaming up with the San Diego Adventure Riders to host a motorcycle dual-sport / adventure ride called Mountain Dash. The event will send riders on some of the finest paved and dirt roads in San Diego County, starting in Escondido and going over Palomar, Julian and Otay Mountains (we will have the gate open), and end at Pio Pico Campground. Riders will get a T-shirt, dinner cooked by Marty Tripes, a raffle, and a guest speaker. To join the fun, go to https://sdorc.org/mountain-dash-reg/.
Along with ASA and CORVA, SDORC has a state lobbyist and follows California bills very closely. The bill introduction deadline has just passed and we have looked at the bills introduced to see if any affect off-road vehicles. This may well be an easy year for us, as there are only two bills we really care about and a few we will watch for amendments. The latest red sticker bill by Senator Brian Jones is SB894. This bill will allow racing motorcycles that no longer can get any sticker to be used on public land, to at least get registered at the DMV. AB2152 slightly modifies a recent bill that allows off-road vehicles to use designated highways for up to 10 miles in the city of Needles. AB1638 would suspend the state tax on gasoline for six months. We like this bill, as long as our OHV program continues to get funded. AB2346 creates a grant program to increase equitable access to outdoor recreational opportunities for all Californians.
Cleanups and Desert Safari
We attended two cleanups in February at Ocotillo Wells and Painted Gorge. Friends of Ocotillo Wells teamed up with Clean-Dezert to take care of Ocotillo Wells. Clean-Dezert did the heavy lifting on this event and brought in a large list of raffle prizes and helped get over 400 people to sign in. The base camp for the event was at the Ocotillo Wells Event Center. I learned recently that individuals and groups can rent the Event Center for $200 per day. You get shade, tables and electricity. Contact the ranger station for details.
SDORC and SDMust teamed up again to clean up the Painted Gorge area. We also had members of San Diego Four Wheelers and Tierra Del Sol 4X4 clubs helping out. It always amazes me how much trash we pull out of areas like this. Who is leaving this much trash out there?
SDORC had a table at Desert Safari, hosted by Tierra Del Sol 4X4 club. We sold memberships and talked to people going into the tent to buy t-shirts and other goods. This was not an official Safari, as TDS had trouble getting a permit to do activities. This was Safari number 59 1/2. Next year, expect something bigger. Seems like every year the wind blows like crazy at Safari and this year was no different. Thanks to Norm, Audrey and Nicole for helping out.
The epicenter of off-roading in the USA is Moab and there has been some trouble over there. This is from a BlueRibbon Coalition press release:
“This week we (BlueRibbon Coalition) were joined by over a dozen ATV outfitter and guiding businesses in Moab to take the first step in potential litigation to challenge Moab City and Grand County over their oppressive OHV regulations. We were also all part of a broad coalition of OHV advocates in Utah who supported and helped pass HB 146 through the Utah legislature, which will impose strict limits on the ability of local governments to harm OHV businesses through excessive regulation. For example, local governments would be prohibited from requiring additional identification, requiring modifications to machines, restricting fleet sizes, and enacting unreasonable noise ordinances. HB 146 was a significant victory, and we’re grateful to all representatives who voted for it. There is still a significant fight ahead to ensure that OHV businesses aren’t unfairly targeted with oppressive local regulations.
OHV businesses in Moab and the OHV users in Utah and beyond are unifying to defend our ground and our right to thrive as an industry, a community, and a culture. As we planned the legal challenge to Grand County’s and Moab City’s ordinances that unfairly targeted OHV businesses, we consistently said that we believed the OHV community would rally in support of this cause. We believed we could succeed in the Utah legislature, which we did. The next step is to succeed in Court, which we will. The ultimate goal is to show that we are a unified army of advocates, an engine for economic prosperity for a thriving industry, and a group of passionate users that wants to enjoy beauty and adventure in Utah and beyond.”
Cal4Wheel has a new president in Josh Epstein. I have met John before and spoke to him at Safari. He is the real deal and will be dedicating his time to advocate for four wheelers. We wish him the best of luck and look forward to working with him and Cal4Wheel.