The American Sand Association, as part of the Ecologic coalition, is hard at work trying to re-establish normal OHV recreation at Oceano Dunes State Vehicle Recreation Area. Ecologic has hired legal counsel and is actively engaged in all aspects of the surrounding administrative and legal process.
Unfortunately, various private and public OHV-opponents are trying to take advantage of the temporary COVID closures to reduce or eliminate RV camping and off-road recreation at Oceano. For this round, the opposition is focusing on alleged air quality concerns and two federally-listed endangered species (the snowy plover and the California least tern).
Back in September of 2018, the American Sand Association, along with our friends at EcoLogic Partners, Inc., filed a complaint with the CA Public Utilities Commission to express our concerns regarding the lack of safe railroad crossings in the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area. A formal committee was established as a direct result of our complaint to work on the railroad crossing issue. Now is the time for the public to provide their input on the most feasible crossing alternative. Virtual public meetings will be held on October 21 and October 24 so we can hear from you! Also, a website has been set up at http://www.imperialctc.org/sr-78-glamis-crossing and an online input portal will be available between October 8 and November 6. Please see the flyer below for more details. Ecologic Partners, Inc. is a consortium of off-highway vehicle organizations that work to protect and expand meaningful recreation opportunities on public and private land. Partners include Off Road Business Association (ORBA) www.offroadbusiness.com , District 37 Competition American Motorcyclist Association www.amadistrict37.org and the American Sand Association (ASA) asasand.org.
BLM El Centro Field Manager Michael Ryan Chatterton, known by his colleagues and staff as Ryan, began his new duties on December 9, 2019.
Ryan is responsible for managing the Field Office’s priority programs and initiatives to include processing National Environmental Protection Act actions, including multiple geothermal, mineral material, and other mining and realty actions. In addition, he is responsible for managing a very active recreation program, including management of the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area (ISDRA), the largest mass of sand dunes in North America. ISDRA is a favorite place for off-highway vehicle enthusiasts, offering breathtaking scenery, opportunities for solitude, and a home to rare plants and animals.
The BLM and the State of California have established the following rules and laws for your safety.
A 15 MPH SPEED RULE EXISTS ON THE SAND HIGHWAYS. No person shall operate an OHV in excess of 15 mph on public lands within 500 feet of Highway 78, Grays Well Road, Gecko Road and access roads within the Gecko and Roadrunner recreation sites.
CA Vehicle Code
Basic Speed Law
38305. No person shall drive an off-highway motor vehicle at a speed greater than is reasonable or prudent and in no event at a speed which endangers the safety of other persons or property.
Prima Facie Speed Limit
38310. The prima facie speed limit within 50 feet of any campground, campsite, or concentration of people or animals shall be 15 miles per hour unless changed as authorized by this code and, if so changed, only when signs have been erected giving notice thereof.
With the dune season fast approaching, every dune user needs to think about safety and passing the safety message on to our fellow duners. The endorsement of the Checkered Flag program helps to inform others of the responsibilities we hold in respecting others and the environment. Make sure you fly your checkered flag and let other duners know that you have respect for other people, safety and the environment and that you act in a responsible manner.
I have been doing some thinking about what lies forward for the duning community. I have been in and around land-use battle since the 1980s and have served on the board of directors of both Cal4 Wheel and ASA as well as the California Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Commission. If there is anything that I have learned, it is that there will always be the next issue.
Right now, we are experiencing an explosion in sales growth and use of side-by-sides across the entire OHV spectrum. Any new vehicle type brings with it new management challenges and a new group of OHV enthusiasts. Whether it was the dirt bikes of the 60s or the three wheelers of the 80s, Government became increasingly involved in regulating their sales and use. Land managers across the United States are faced with balancing access and recreation against land stewardship and public safety. The dunes are a haven or heaven for virtually every type of OHV except snowmobiles. And yes, I have seen some of them try the dunes as well. This mix of vehicles is the keystone to the diverse uses at the ISDRA.