Unless you have been under a rock, you know that side-by-sides (aka UTVs) have become a huge part of off-roading lately. These vehicles are fast, capable and lots of fun. They are also dangerous if used incorrectly. Incorrectly as in driving faster than you can react. There have been a number of high-profile accidents lately of side-by-sides vs bikes and ATVs. You can guess who the losers were. I personally had a head on collision with a side-by-side a few years ago in Tectonic Gorge. We both braked hard and it was a firm tap, but really shook me (I was on a motorcycle). There were two fatal accidents in Hungry Valley a few months ago and on July Fourth a tragic accident in Stoddard Wells in which two children on an ATV were hit and killed by a side-by-side which then fled the scene. One Edgar Ivan Galindo Diaz was arrested for felony hit and run. OHV leaders and the state are well aware that something needs to be done. I understand the state will be hosting some kind of meeting soon on the subject and I hope to participate. I believe that on the table will be proposals related to mandatory training and licensing requirements. If you have feelings or ideas on the subject, please let us know at [email protected].
Otay Mountain Truck Trail
You probably know that the west entrance to Otay Mt was closed a few months ago by the Border Patrol. You may also remember that SDORC hosted a cleanup on the mountain last September. The BLM (which manages most of the mountain) contacted us and asked us to do another cleanup on National Public Lands Day. I replied that if the BLM could get its road re-opened, we would be happy to host a cleanup. Looks like we will have to wait for another time, because the BLM is having trouble getting the Border Patrol to open the trail. I contacted the public relations person from the Border Patrol to see their current position and I received the following:
“Access to the Minnewawa is controlled by management at Pio Pico, and from what I understand, they have been very good about allowing access for resource-specific reasons. Border Patrol supports and requests continued closure, but we do not have the final say. I would imagine that a clean-up day of the mountain would be something everyone supports, BP included. It is unfettered access that provides the opportunity for dangerous smuggling events to occur that give folks pause. I would like to share that since the gate has been locked (as of my last check on it in May), there has been only one smuggling load. Prior to that there were 25 smuggling events between Jan 30th and March 2nd (when the gate was locked). Those 25 vehicles held 40 principles (smugglers) and 107 undocumented migrants. That’s 147 people- not counting local citizens who could find themselves on the Minnewawa at the same time as a smuggler- whose lives were in danger due to erratic/evasive driving on such a dangerous road. While we appreciate and respect the enjoyment the public receives from off-roading on the mountain, we can’t ignore the public safety and homeland security challenges the Minnewawa poses. I hope this helps with your own messaging to folks in your community. We would love nothing more than for there to be no need to lock the gate. Makes everyone’s lives better when criminals don’t break the law.”
Above they stated Pio Pico controls the gate, but they fail to mention that Pio Pico’s arm is being twisted by Border Patrol. Pio Pico is also no longer giving access to the road. There is legal access to the mountain to the east off Highway 94 from Marron Valley Road. If we only had that fence… We will continue to follow this and keep you updated.
Meccacopia Special Recreation Management Area (SRMA) OHV Recreation Scoping
While Palm Springs BLM is having trouble around Otay, they are moving forward with a proposal to create an open OHV area to the north east of the Salton Sea, an area known as Mecca Hills. I have ridden in this area and it is a perfect example of an area that is fit to be designated as open. The dirt hills and little valleys are fun to ride and natural boundaries will help keep people out of the wrong areas. The Palm Springs BLM office manages 1.7 million acres, yet currently has no open areas. Please help by commenting positively to this proposal: https://eplanning.blm.gov/eplanning-ui/project/2018898/510.
The Mojave Trails National Monument advisory group had its first meeting (I am part of the group). This was mostly introductions and learning how the process will work. My goal is to keep as many routes open as possible in the planning process.
The Dirt Rider Foundation is official and had its first meeting recently. Desiree Bates is president and the first official event will be the cleanup associated with the Lost Lizard Fun Run. We are discussing other events, like something to help disabled veterans. Let us know if you would like to help: https://www.facebook.com/DirtRiderFoundation.
We were at El Cajon Cruise Off-Road night passing out Lost Lizard Fun Run flyers and we recently had an event at Pacific Island Brewery in Santee. At the brewery we had a couple dozen off-road vehicles; my favs were the Unimog and VW Thing (see photos below). We raised a few bucks and had a nice afternoon.
Speaking of the Fun Run, the Lost Lizard is coming fast, so go online (https://sdorc.org/fun-run-2022) to sign up and get your chains and belts lubed and adjusted. If you would like to donate to the raffle or help with the event, let us know at [email protected].