1/14/02 ASA Activity Update
ASA Makes great showing at the OHMVR Commission meeting (Green sticker commission)

By Mark Harms

This meeting was about MONEY* and the MOVERS and SHAKERS in this state with respect to our CA deserts. All of the Off-road leadership was represented (i.e.) CORVA, SDORC, Cal 4-Wheel, ORBA, AMA District 37 and of course the ASA. The Imperial County Sheriff, the Director for CDCA Mr. Tim Salt and staff, numerous Imperial County personal including 2 Imperial County Supervisors, and the list goes on.

Below is a letter I read and distributed to the commission. Jerry Seaver and Bob Mason drafted these recommendations for the most part. Both Jerry and Bob have been working very hard for the past several months working on safety issues with the State, BLM, Sheriff’s office and as well the County of Imperial.

Here is the letter:

This letter is to advise you that the American Sand Association recommends that the OHMVR Commission fully fund the 2001/2002 Fiscal Year OHV Grants requested by the Imperial County Sheriff’s Office and the BLM for the ISDRA subject to the following conditions:

· OHMVR Commission must reiterate to BLM that OHV Grant Funds are intended to benefit, not dismantle, OHV recreation.

· OHMVR Commission must ensure that all Grant Funds disbursed to BLM for ISDRA be used to maintain or improve OHV recreational opportunities and experiences in ISDRA. This would include Public Safety.

· OHMVR Commission must require that BLM establish systems and procedures to assure accountability of the use of Grant Funds. ASA recommends that grant recipients be required to submit billing at 3-month intervals including a detailed breakdown of law enforcement grant expenditures at the ISDRA. This breakdown should include the expenditures of Imperial County Grant Funds, California OHMVR Grant Funds, Federal appropriated funds and Demo Fee funds.

· OHMVR Commission must require BLM implement a volunteer program to support ISDRA activities, particularly those related to public safety.

· OHMVR Commission must require BLM provide the affected organizations and agencies an opportunity to participate in Public Safety planning meetings and after-the-fact briefings.

· In order to assure consistent Public Safety planning and implementation at all sand sport recreation areas managed by BLM, OHMVR Commission must request a Public Safety coordinator be appointed immediately. The coordinator must report directly to the State Director of BLM.

ASA appreciates the Commission’s consideration of the grant conditions described above.

End of letter.

These are some of the other issues that transpired at the OHMVR meeting. The commission decided to ZERO FUND the BLM for thirty days and required them to present a plan addressing items that follow but also including one other giant concern “Capacity Limits”. That’s right people, the BLM will return to this Commission February 12 & 13 to submit a plan to address the following:

Capacity Limits
Comp Hill—Sand Drags
Public out reach-volunteers and how to use them
Using public input (i.e.) the ASA and others

I personally don’t believe alcohol and capacity limits being at the top of the list is accidental. The recent Newspaper headlines appear to be driving this request of the BLM by the OHMVR Commission. The New York Times headline “A holiday of mayhem in THE MOST ILLEGAL PLACE IN THE WORLD” was quoted by several of the Commissioners.

Dave Widell of State Parks approached me with some questions (Dave Widell is to the OHMVR Commission what Tim Salt is to the DAC) I believe Mr. Widell has direct access to Governor Gray Davis. Daphne Greene, the Chairperson of the Commission, also approached me and when I say me I mean the ASA. A number of OHV leaders feel the ASA made some great strides at this meeting as well.

All in all people the ASA did very well at this grant meeting. Having said that, be on the lookout for some major changes in the months to come.

Mark Harms
ASA Board Member

Other notes from the meeting.

The funds to the Imperial County Sheriff were doubled and Deputy Director of the OHMVR Commission Widell said he would fast track this so law enforcement would have virtually immediate funding. THE EFFECT THIS WILL HAVE ON PRESIDENTS DAY IS LIKELY MORE ENFORCEMENT THAN OVER NEW YEARS.

This Commission recognized that BLM is primarily responsible for resource management and NOT law enforcement. Law enforcement is given to them while enforcing resources, not to handle DUI and crowd control. Therefore, more money was given to the agency that will solve the lawlessness: the Imperial County Sheriff. There were two Imperial County supervisors who argued for our cause.

One of the best things we can do is to let everyone know there will be more cops in the desert for Presidents Day than there were for New Years. The Sheriff told the Commission he would directly oversee the efforts in the dunes and it would appear he means business. No longer will they cite and release for a DUI: offenders will go to jail and have their vehicle impounded.

Listed below are 5 areas the commission wants to see addressed:
1) Public safety and awareness (community outreach)
2) Alcohol: (either a ban or partial ban)
3) Comp Hill and sand drags (how to fix these two problem areas)
4) Plan for using volunteers
5) Closed area violations

Next meeting scheduled for Feb. 12-13 in Sacramento.

*For the last several years the Off Highway Vehicle Motor Vehicle Recreation (OHMVR) Commission has been the source of the majority of funding for the ISDRA.