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#35 - Threats to duning at ISDRA

#35 - Threats to duning at ISDRA

| Jim Bramham

The struggle for access to our dunes is real and will never end, but here are simple yet critical things we must all do to help save our dunes and our sports.

ASA Board member and land use duning advocate Jim Bramham walks us through what we can do to help keep our dunes open and reduce the threats to duning at ISDRA. The explosion of SSVs on the sand at Glamis is taking its toll. Dust, noise, speeding, air quality, trash, and illegal activities are becoming more prominent and attracting the attention of law enforcement and anti-access groups. Keep reading and see how Jim gives us the keys to helping stop the threats!


I have been thinking about what lies forward for the duning community. I have been in and around land-use battles since the 1980s and have served on the BODs of Cal4 Wheel and ASA and 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 side-by-side use across the entire OHV spectrum. Any new vehicle type brings 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, the 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 also try the dunes. This mix of vehicles is the keystone to the diverse uses at the ISDRA.


Air quality and dust have become the issues of the day at Oceano. These will affect the ISDRA and many other OHV opportunities. There are several facets to the air quality issue; some hover around vehicle and fuel emissions, but campfires also bring a level of concern. However, the most significant air quality issue is dust. Dust is not only a visual reminder of the presence of vehicles in the area; its effects can spread beyond the recreation area. Dust also adds a safety element with low visibility.

Funding for managing our recreation areas, especially the dunes, constantly needs to be secured and used wisely. Above and beyond the permit fees we pay, part of the registration and gas tax for off-highway vehicles returns to the management of these areas. These funds augment the federal dollars allocated by Congress. The more issues we do not help solve, the more that will be solved without us. And that is always more costly in both dollars and opportunities.


  • Know and obey the laws – there are speed limits!
  • Become a campfire knowledge leader
  • Think safety all the time
  • Respect others and the dunes
  • Fly the checkered flag
  • Haul it out and pack it home
  • Volunteer to help keep the dunes open

So what do these three things have in common? They are things you can personally help solve! As new visitors and vehicle types come to the dunes, it is incumbent on longtime visitors to reach out. A tiny amount of information and encouragement from a fellow enthusiast can do far more than blinking red lights. Become a knowledge leader in your camping circle, learn the rules, think safety, respect others, and respect the land. And respect the land managers. Encourage others to ride not only where it is legal but also provokes less dust. There is a 15-mile-an-hour speed limit rule around camps for a reason, less dust, and more safety. This limit also applies within 50 feet of other people. When in doubt, slow down around others.


Keep all your equipment, towing and duning, in top running order. Use only CARB-compliant refueling devices and minimize the operation of generators. Smoldering campfires are an ignition hazard as well as an air-quality detriment. I see many camps that have turned to propane campfires -- easier than hauling wood, has no pesky smoke in your eyes, and is easy to extinguish.


Some of the most direct costs of dunes management are trash and human waste. Keeping a clean, organized camp, so your stuff doesn't blow off when you go out for a ride is critical. Don't encourage wildlife scavenging by leaving food and trash sources available when you're not in camp. Consider hauling your trash home. If you do use the trash bins at the dunes, be sure the lids will close and never leave trash outside of a secure container. Keep the bathrooms clean; consider bringing your own paper. Yes, these are small things, but the BLM is not your maid service, and when they are forced to be, it costs a lot of money and leaves a bad impression. Finally, buy your permits and keep your OHV registered. It all helps.


Several years ago, the ASA promoted a "checkered flag program" to show its support of the BLM and its law enforcement efforts at the dunes. This was a highly successful campaign with the duners and was well accepted and appreciated by the BLM. We once again encourage duners to "DuneSmart" and fly the checkered flag.

checkered flag pledge 450


Whether it's the dunes cleanup, on an ASA project, or with another OHV organization, volunteerism pays huge dividends in keeping public lands open for the public.