SDORC helped put on two recent OHV area improvement days recently. A week after Thanksgiving, we put on a cleanup in north Ocotillo Wells SVRA to help take care of what was left after the big weekend. We met by the 4X4 training area and spread out from there. Clean Dezert and Desert Cleanse came to help and I saw a number of volunteers who work for Fox Motorsports out picking up. I went out with Rick Moore with magnets to get nails left behind from burning pallets. It’s surprising how much trash 80 people can pick up in a few hours. There was food and a raffle, where I won a beanie and sunglasses.
Two weeks later we were at Corral Canyon fixing up trails and lining the kids’ training track with rice bales. The training area is just north of the Corral Canyon Campground, accessed from inside the campground. It is a safe area for kids on small motorcycles and ATVs to ride. We share the credit of this event with San Diego 4 Wheelers and I saw a few members of Tierra Del Sol out working. We also saw State Senator Brian Jones out at Four Corners. Brian was a member of SD4Wheelers years back and he showed us the new lift he put on his Jeep. I personally trimmed the east side of Ranger trail, a trail that I worked on making with the forest. After, I rode to the top of Pinos Mountain to take in the view.
I would like to thank Audrey Mason for helping coordinate these two events. She works hard and makes these events successful. Holding events like these makes the areas better for us and helps remind the agency staff that we really care about our areas and want to keep them open for our kind of recreation. When you hear about cleanups and maintenance days, please consider joining us. There are usually food and prizes, you meet nice people and can ride or drive the area after. Coming up next are cleanups in the dunes January 14, Painted Gorge February 11, and Ocotillo Wells February 18.
The State legislature has begun the 2023 session and an early bill introduced by Vincent Fong would suspend the fuel tax in California for one year. This is to help give back some of the massive budget surplus the State collected recently. While this would be great for everyone who drives gas or diesel vehicles in California, we are worried that it could affect funding of our green sticker program. Our program is funded about 3/4 from fuel taxes and we will be watching this bill to make sure our program will continue to be funded.
We are working on Red Rock State Park General Plan comments. CORVA had a comments-writing training session and I learned a few things. This plan formation is guided by the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). In CEQA, plans are to be formed objectively. In the plan draft we found language that says: “While the mode of travel within the park has been via motorized vehicles, a visitor’s experience of the park could be richer if other modes are considered. Enjoying vistas, discovering special places, and exploring unique environments can be enhanced through non-vehicular modes of travel such as walking, hiking, and horseback riding.” This does not sound very objective.
There was a survey done to determine the means of travel used by survey respondents when recreating in/exploring Red Rock Canyon State Park. They recorded:
What they failed to disclose is that the survey was performed at a hiking trailhead.
During the comment training someone mentioned that the route network the state used was found by the USGS. What the state didn’t say was that last route survey by the USGS was in 1967. Routes not in inventory are automatically closed.
Nightmare Gulch was closed temporarily in 2013 due to a flood. After the flood volunteer maintenance was not allowed. This was a favorite route that was well-loved and well-used. The trail is still closed “temporarily” nine years later, but in the draft plan it would be closed permanently. Someone in the comment-writing meeting found a document from the BLM from before the land was transferred to the state saying Nightmare Gulch must stay open. We are discussing ideas about how to deal with this.
Submitting comments at the draft stage in CEQA gives the commenter standing, should the need to litigate arise. We plan to have standing, and may join with other OHV groups when the plan is completed. We have heard that some environmental groups are not happy with how the plan is coming, even though it does great harm to OHV users, and may sue State Parks.
OHV user survey
California State Parks is conducting a survey of off-road vehicle users. Click here for the survey.
Plaster City railroad
The Plaster City railroad may be running on weekends to make up for being damaged by rain last August. If you are near the tracks, please stay off, as a train may be coming.
OHV safety video A new OHV safety video titled “Operation Dust Devil – OHV Safety and Enforcement” has been released by the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department. It’s only two and a half minutes long. Click here to watch.
We submitted comments for the Johnson Valley Shared Use Area. The Marines asked the public what we think of management of the shared use area. We told them that we appreciate that they use the area much less than the two months a year they are entitled to. We did mention that we would appreciate it if they did not use the area on three-day weekends in the winter (they are planning to use the area over this coming Presidents’ Day weekend).
We have been concerned about the 30×30 Partnership and asked for the criteria used in deciding what land is included. I found out the main criterion is “land and coastal water areas that are durably protected and managed to support functional ecosystems, both intact and restored, and the species that rely on them.” I reviewed the map of what they consider protected now and feel there is lots of land already adequately protected but not included by them. We feel that if they did an accurate review, they would exceed 30% and their whole project would be futile, so they have an interest in continuing without counting land that most would believe to be adequately protected.
SDORC is a membership organization. Please consider joining us, as membership costs only $25 annually. Listen to our live radio show with Audrey Mason, Dave Stall and myself on Sundays 12:00 to 1:00pm on AM 1170 KCBQ The Answer. Old shows are available along with online membership and lots of other information at sdorc.org.