Article - Thanksgiving Weekend at the ISDRA

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Article - Thanksgiving Weekend at the ISDRA

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THANKSGIVING WEEKEND

Dunes see fewer; still a good time

BY KARINA LOPEZ

Staff Writer
GLAMIS — Prior to her twin broth­er’s passing eight years ago, Temecu­la resident Debra John­son rarely spent time at the dunes here.

“He loved being out here and riding; it was his life,” Johnson said. “In a way, being out here makes me feel like I’m closer to him. My mother doesn’t really like that I come out here, but she understands why I do it.”

Since her brother’s trailer ac­cident, Johnson has spent every Thanksgiving here enjoying the sand and the company of friends.

“We like to come out here ear­ly and get a good spot because it fills up pretty quickly,” she said. “We’ll make it out here about five times a year, but Thanksgiv­ing is by far the most crowded and most exciting.”

Johnson said she spends a good two to three days prepar­ing for the trip, which can last about two weeks.

“We’ve been out here since about the 10th or 11th,” she said. “I love it here. I think I’d live here if I could. It’s fun to go out riding or just watch other peo­ple ride.”

While some people like John­son have been coming to the Imperial Sand Dunes Recre­ation Area for years, others like Linda Smith are only beginning to enjoy the beauty of the sand and sun.

“It’s just always so packed and there is always a lot of accidents during this time,” said Smith, a Phoenix resident. “But I think I’ve started to get used to it.”

Smith’s husband, Greg, said he’s loved the area for more than 15 years, although it took some time for his wife to get used to it.

“Since 1996 I’ve been coming here,” Greg said. “This is the biggest weekend for the area and I just enjoy being here and seeing old friends.”

Roughly 131,000 people made it out to the dunes this year, which is roughly a 6 percent drop from last year.

“In 2011 we had about 142,000 people come out to the different areas, so there was a slight dip,” said Joya Szalwinski, Bureau of Land Management park ranger.

While dune laws have become stricter in re­cent years, Szalwinski could not say this was the reason for the dip.

Between Wednesday and Sunday, there were several hundred cita­tions issued by the BLM, Szalwinski said.

“People can be cited for a number of differ­ent reasons,” she said. “They can be cited for incidents related to drugs and alcohol, not following safety laws or failing to have a permit. We’re not just out there to cite people; law en­forcement is out there to assist the medical staff when things go south.”

Despite the heavier law enforcement pres­ence, Greg said he still enjoys spending Thanksgiving in the desert.

“It’s a tradition,” he said. “And for the most part if you don’t do any­thing wrong, you’ll be left alone.”

For some families, while at times danger­ous, the area is their fa­vorite place to spend Thanksgiving.

“I’d say we’ve spent about the last five Thanksgivings here,” said Ashley Daniels, a 22-year-old Colton resi­dent. “We’ll spend about four days here just rid­ing and meeting new people. It might be dan­gerous, but it’s always fun.”

While fatal collisions were once synonymous with spending Thanks­giving in Glamis, there were no reported fatali­ties in the past two years according to a Califor­nia Highway Patrol El Centro Field Office press release.

To ensure the number of fatalities remain zero, Border Patrol agents from the Yuma Sector’s Search, Trauma and Rescue Team put their Thanksgiving holiday on hold to provide emergency medical aid to those who suffered mishaps, according to a U.S. Customs and Bor­der protection news re­lease.

Agents trained in the area beforehand and had the opportunity to put their skills to work when a sand rail rolled several times before stopping upside-down and catching fire.

“On average, we re­spond to about 85 inci­dents during the Thanksgiving four-day weekend,” said Border Patrol Agent and BORSTAR member Tyler Emblem, in the press release.

More than 80 percent of incidents occurring in the area are trauma re­lated said Emblem.

Staff Writer Karina Lopez can be reached at 760-337-3439 or klopez@ivpress online.com


By the numbers

131,000 visitors in 2012* 142,000 in 2011* Source *estimated by the California Highway Patrol El Centro Field Office (these include all of the El Centro Field Office, not just the desert regions)

9property damage collisions in 2012 6property damage collisions in 2011 5minor injury collisions in 2012 2minor injury collisions in 2011 8DUI arrests in 2012 12 DUI arrests in 2011 0fatalities in 2012 0fatalities in 2011 Source Bureau of Land Management El Centro Field Office

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Re: Article - Thanksgiving Weekend at the ISDRA

Post by BHenry »

A reasonable article, and consistent with my weekend. The word "dangerous" came up a bit too often for my taste. While it was busy, to me it was no more dangerous than the 405 at rush hour...
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