I’m back from my cross-country ride on the Trans America Trail. I can tell you it’s worth doing if you like traveling by motorcycle. I covered 9,400 miles in 5 weeks, saw amazing sights and loved it all.

Lost Lizard
We had a great Lost Lizard Fun Run this year with 742 entries and no problems. The route was well marked, the checkpoints super fun and our big raffle went off without a hitch. Schoony’s Side X Sides earned the coveted Best Checkpoint award, impressive, as they were drafted into hosting just a couple weeks before the event. We also had great checkpoints with San Diego FJ Cruisers, Tierra Del Sol 4X4 Club, San Diego Jeep Club and Arc Troopers. Look for us next year on November 9.

Off Road Safety Training and Lobbying
Most of us are aware of the big increase in side-by-side usage lately and have seen some of the problems associated with them. While most are being used responsibly, some of us have seen dangerous driving as well as rude and illegal use. It has been a big enough problem that California State Parks has put on two safety summits to try to get some control of the problem. I attended both, along with other advocates and agency staff from Parks, BLM, National Forests, CHP and others. The agencies are interested because when accidents or bad behavior happen, people look to the agencies for answers. The main topic to improve the situation revolved around education. The question then is, should training be voluntary or mandatory? The problem with voluntary is it likely doesn’t get to the people who need it most. The trouble with mandatory is it forces people who don’t need it and prefer not to take it to have to take it. I took the Utah online training, found it painless and even learned a few things.

We have been talking to Parks about the possibility of running a safety bill and found a lobbyist we like who could help us. SDORC and CORVA were pretty close to running a bill when Parks backpedaled and said they would like to wait a year. We at SDORC are still interested in hiring a lobbyist and we just voted to hire lobbyist Mark Smith. He will help us sort through the thousands of bills to be introduced this coming year to find ones that may affect off roaders. If we find any, we will support or oppose through the legislative process to benefit our community. I am personally thrilled to be back working on state bills and will keep you updated as we go.

Desert Advisory Council
I am happy to report that I have been reappointed to the BLM’s Desert Advisory Council, representing off-highway vehicle users. I just had my first meeting back and it was good to see old friends and meet new ones. During the field office reports there was one recurring theme: every office has staffing issues. Many good staff have transferred away and there are a number of experienced staff that are retiring. Three of the five offices have acting managers (temporary) and another is about to retire.

The biggest thing I learned about is a proposed National Monument to be called Chuckwalla National Monument and Joshua Tree National Park Expansion. This would go from just east of the Salton Sea to near the Colorado River. Most of the land in the proposed monument is designated wilderness or Areas of Critical Environmental Concern. The Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Program also has covered this area. Because of these designations, there is really no benefit in designating this monument.

This designation is problematic because we would likely loose routes and amateur miners would be forced to do expensive environmental reviews on claims they work with hand tools. Rockhounds (small scale gem and mineral collectors) could lose opportunities as well. Joshua Tree National Park has limited camping in reserved spots. There is BLM land right next to the park that allows dispersed camping, and a lot of park users go there to camp. If the Joshua Tree NP expansion takes place, that land will be added to the park and camping will be lost or highly regulated.

We oppose this proposal and will be telling the author’s office we don’t like it. This proposal is in a Federal bill introduced by Congressman Ruiz, H.R.5660. The bill is unlikely to pass this year, but Ruiz has stated that he would like President Biden to use the Antiquities Act to designate the monument and expand JTNP.

Ed Stovin
President, SDORC