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, Sheriffs
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 Sheriffs
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
· 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
ASA appreciates the Commissions 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.
Thats right people, the BLM will return to this Commission
February 12 & 13 to submit a plan to address the following:
Comp HillSand Drags
Public out reach-volunteers and how to use them
Using public input (i.e.) the ASA and others
I personally dont 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.
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.