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Showing posts with the label ORV

Two Court Rulings Favor Citizens Seeking to Preserve Deserts

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Over the past week, two major court rulings were handed down that vindicate Americans demanding that the government take a wiser approach to land use in California's deserts.

Off-Road Vehicles 
In the first ruling on 29 January, Honorable Susan Illston of the United States District Court ordered the Department of the Interior to take steps that limit the impacts of off-road vehicle (ORV) recreation on public lands in the West Mojave.  The judge ordered the Department to study and designate new off-road vehicle routes by March 2014, clearly mark routes that are legal for off-road use, monitor the land for signs of illegal ORV use, and provide sufficient enforcement capacity.   ORV use--if not probably checked--causes severe degradation of desert habitat through collisions with endangered species such as the desert tortoise, and the compaction of desert soil that prevents plants and wildflowers from thriving, impacting the entire food chain.

The Bureau of Land Management--part of t…

OHV Races and the Mojave Desert

It was a very unfortunate day for Mojave Desert Racing and Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) recreationists with this weekend's tragic accident in the Johnson Valley OHV area.  As much as I prefer my pristine desert wilderness, I understand that off-road vehicle enthusiasts ultimately share a love for the open space and freedom afforded by the Mojave. 

The media tends to paint OHV enthusiasts as the arch nemesis of environmentalists (and vice versa),  but there is middle ground, and hopefully that will not be ignored during the coverage of this tragedy.  It is true that OHV recreation is incompatible with conservation.  It is a fact that OHVs damage desert lands and harm endangered wildlife.  But if enjoyed responsibly, OHV enthusiasts can have their share of the desert, and leave the rest for everyone to enjoy in its natural state.  OHV recreation is a sport that--in my opinion--has not fully matured, but neither has our management of the deserts.

Some organizations may seek to take adv…

ORV Damage in Yucca Valley

There is a great editorial in the Hi-Desert Star by Russel Drake drawing attention to off-road vehicle (ORV) damage to a key wildlife corridor connecting the San Bernardino Mountains to the Mojave Desert.  The land, known as Section 11, was set aside as off-limits to ORVs but signs had not yet been posted when the land was trampled in early December 2009.  The Yucca Valley Town Council still plans to post signage prohibiting ORV use and illegal trash dumping.  The land in question was identified in research used by the Morongo Basin Open Space Group to argue for its preservation.  You can access some of the research on ecosystem linkages on the SC Wildlands website here.

Published February 10 on the Hi-Desert Star website:



Land under attack is critical to wild animalsBy Russell Drake
Yucca ValleyPublished: Wednesday, February 10, 2010 1:49 AM CST When wildlife resource advocate Pat Flanagan told the Yucca Valley Town Council last October that Section 11, a square mile of town-owned des…

ORV Ordinance Still Under Consideration

The San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors has not yet voted on whether or not to repeal current County Ordinance # 3973, which mandates that private property owners obtain a permit in order to hold large off-road vehicle (ORV) gatherings. If you are interested in voicing your opinion on this issue, you still have time to call or contact the Supervisors, and there contact info can be found at the County website.  At the time of my previous post on this issue, it appeared that the Board could vote on the ordinance by the end of January.  It is no longer clear when this vote will make the agenda, since it does not appear on the February 9 agenda on their website.

San Bernardino County Easing On ORV Rules?

As soon as 26 January(delayed vote) the San Bernardino County supervisors may vote to repeal an existing county ordinance (Ordinance 3973) that requires a permit for gatherings of 10 or more Off-Road Vehicle users on private property. This issue should fall into the property rights and public nuisance debate more than a Mojave Desert wilderness preservation issue, but it's a good hook to examine the current state of regulation and enforcement in ORV use in the Mojave Desert area in general.

As the Hi-Desert Star newspaper reported earlier this month, only six individuals have applied for the permits over the past 3 years.  Almost certainly more people have held gatherings that would meet the permit threshold that did not apply.   San Bernardino County may repeal the ordinance and it would take a great deal of pressure to argue that it remain in place, quite simply because it is most likely not an efficient mechanism to control or deter the public nuisance caused by large gathering…