Article in the Imperial Valley Press - $1M for Dune Patrol

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Jerry Seaver
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Article in the Imperial Valley Press - $1M for Dune Patrol

Post by Jerry Seaver »

Imperial County gets nearly $1M for dunes patrol

By ERIC GALVAN, Staff Writer
Tuesday, October 16, 2007 10:23 PM PDT

Last year the Off-Highway Safety Enforcement Unit was scraping for state Off-Highway Vehicle funding and had to dip into Imperial County’s pocket to cover policing costs for the dunes season.

But as off-roaders and recreationalists prepare to invade the Imperial County Sand Dunes Recreational Area, there will be an abundance of funds with nearly $1 million allocated to cover local OHV costs.

“You have many areas in California competing for those monies,” said Supervisor Wally Leimgruber, who represents the sand dunes area. “But maybe the federal government finally came to realize that OHV, especially in the desert Southwest, is very popular.

“The county has been, with many organizations, lobbying congressional members for the necessary dollars to allow this activity to continue here,” Leimgruber said.

Last year, then-Sheriff Harold Carter asked the county for more than $200,000 to help cover costs for the safety enforcement unit.



A lack of funding from OHV put the safety enforcement unit in the hole financially.

With more than $927,000 available from OHV funding this year, Sheriff Ray Loera said he will be able to pay back part of what was borrowed last year and will be able to request funding for new vehicles and equipment.

Manpower to patrol the dunes has already been budgeted through OHV funding.

Loera said he is working on a proposal that would request around $400,000 for sheriff’s costs.

“We anticipate it will still be a very safe environment,” Loera said. “And we’re hoping it’s as safe as it has been in the past.”

A study released by United Desert Gateway, a coalition of the Brawley, El Centro and Yuma chambers of commerce and the Bureau of Land Management, California Desert District, shows that during the dunes season from Oct. 2005 to May 2006 more than 1.12 million people visited the sand dunes.

County Executive Officer Robertta Burns recommended using the OHV funding to cover law enforcement costs, support studies and needs assessments for off-highway usage and enforcement activities.

Those funds also could support safety programs and promote off-highway activity through non-profit and educational institutions.

The board will decide on OHV funding usages at future meetings.

>> Staff Writer Eric Galvan can be reached at 337-3441 or at egalvan@ivpressonline.com

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