ACTION ALERT! We Need a BLM Ranger Dedicated to Protecting Public Lands in the Morongo Basin

  • Posted on: 13 January 2009
  • By: admin

Morongo Basin BLM Ranger Kevin MacLean is moving on to other position and will not be able to concentrate his law enforcement activities in the Morongo Basin.

Every holiday weekend, ORV riders trespass on BLM lands with limited or no enforcement. It is unacceptable that our public lands will be unprotected in the future.

After advocating for a resident ranger for over 3 years, the BLM has no immediate plans to replace MacLean.

Email or call BLM DESERT DISTRICT MANAGER Steven Borchard and tell him that we need a ranger dedicated to protecting our public lands in the Morongo Basin.

Email: Steven Borchard

US Senate Committee to Receive Testimony Regarding Off-Highway Vehicle Management on Public Lands

  • Posted on: 2 June 2008
  • By: admin

The full US Senate Committee on Energy and Natural resources will be conducting a hearing to receive testimony regarding off-highway vehicle management on public lands.

You can view the hearing via webcast when it takes place on Thursday, June 5 at 6:30 AM Eastern Time via this link.

Report on Desert Protection Summit in Hi-Desert Star

  • Posted on: 12 April 2008
  • By: admin

From the Hi-Desert Star, Friday April 11, 2007:

A public forum was held in Joshua Tree April 5 to explore strategies for protecting public lands and private property from off-road vehicle abuse.

The Desert Protection Summit was organized by the Community ORV Watch. The group is an assemblage of self-described “reluctant activists” who feel compelled to voice their opposition about what they see as a growing public menace.

Victoria Fuller, a longtime Joshua Tree resident, said the organization was formed by people who wanted to help make their areas more livable.

Read the whole article.

Desert Protection Summit - April 5th - Schedule

  • Posted on: 3 April 2008
  • By: admin
9:30-9:40 AM Welcome by Matt Leivas (Chemehuevi Indian Tribe)
9:40-9:50 AM Phil Klasky and Pat Flanagan- introductions and logistics
9:50-10:00 AM Desert Cahuilla Bird Singers
10:05-10:45 AM

Activists Panel -- Local Solutions by ARR members

  -Tom Eagan (Rangers for Responsible Recreation)
-Dave Van Voorhis (Friends of Juniper Flats)
-Douglas Parham (Western SB County Homeowners Assn.)
-Phil Klasky (Community ORV Watch)
-Terry Weiner (Desert Protective Council)
10:45–11:00 AM Ileene Anderson (Center for Biological Diversity) -- Impacts on Native Vegetation
11:00-11:15 AM D'Anne Albers (Defenders of Wildlife) - Impacts on Desert Wildlife
11:15-11:30 AM Pat Flanagan (Morongo Basin Conservation Association) – ATVs and Children’s Safety
11:30–11:45 AM Karen Schambach (Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility) – Education and Law Enforcement
11:45-12:00 Noon Audience Q and A with presenters
12:00-12:30 PM LUNCH (provided – donations accepted)
12:30-12:40 PM Desert Cahuilla Bird Singers
12:40-1:00 PM Matthew Leivas and Cara McCoy, Chemehuevi Indian Cultural Center
- Impacts on Native American Lands
1:05-1:20 PM

Meg Grossglass (Off-Road Business Assn) - Rider and Vendor Responsibility

1:20-1:50 PM Keynote Speaker: Dr. Howard Wilshire (Public Employees for Environmental
Responsibility) – ORVs, Nature and Time
1:50-2:00 PM Victoria Fuller (COW Steering Committee) – Report from Washington, DC
2:00-3:00 PM Panel of local officials:
  - Sgt. Rick Collins – SB County Sheriff’s Department
- Hugh Oram – SB County Code Enforcement
- Alex Meyerhoff – City of 29 Palms
- Ranger Mark Harris – Bureau of Land Management
- Daphne Greene – Deputy Director, State OHMVR Division
- Mary Ashley – SB County District Attorney
3:00-3:30 PM Audience Q and A with panel
3:55-4:10 PM Brent Schoradt (California Wilderness Coalition) – OHV Grants Program
4:15-4:45 PM Open mic

"Desert Protection Summit Conference and Public Forum" to address ORV abuse of our private and public lands

  • Posted on: 13 January 2008
  • By: admin

Saturday, April 5th from 9:00am to 4:00pm at the Joshua Tree Community Center. Joshua Tree Community Center located at 6171 Sunburst Road in Joshua Tree.

In 2005, COW and ARR organized a conference on ORV abuse attended by residents by many different desert communities. The event was a great success and helped to launch many successful initiatives to obtain law enforcement and to protect our precious desert lands and our quality of life.

Community ORV Watch (COW), the California Wilderness Coalition (CWC), the Morongo Basin Conservation Association (MBCA), the Desert Protective Council (DPC), The Mojave Land Trust and the Alliance for Responsible Recreation (ARR) (partial list) is organizing another conference for updates, information and the development of effective strategies.

Dr. Howard Wilshire, respected desert advocate and author of The Environmental Effects of Off-Road Vehicles, will be our keynote speaker. The conference will feature reports from grass-roots
activists and presentations on a number of relevant topics including: impacts on cultural resources, private property and protected areas; instruction on how to use the law; conservation efforts; addressing harassment and intimidation; challenges with law enforcement; and, grant funding.

We have invited representatives from local, county and federal law enforcement agencies, county supervisors and local elected officials who will be asked about their efforts to address ORV abuse.

There is no cost to attend the conference but donations are welcome.


Sheriff's Department receives $133,000 ORV enforcement grant

  • Posted on: 20 December 2007
  • By: admin

The Sheriff's Department just received a $133,000 grant from the state of California Off-Highway Vehicle Commission to be used exclusively to address ORV abuse. The grant will pay for additional deputy hours, a truck to haul enforcement motorcycles to remote areas of the Morongo Basin, a message board to direct riders to Johnson Valley, the printing of more ORV brochures, and public education.

COW has been actively supporting the Sheriff's department efforts for the last three years which has brought over $250,000 in grant funds to the department. Our work now is to make sure that these funds are spent in the most effective way possible.

"ORV impact on the desert is huge, according to wildlife experts"

  • Posted on: 6 October 2007
  • By: admin

Published in the Hi-Desert Start - October 5, 2007

Guest soapbox: Trashing a gift

By Russell M. Drake / Yucca Valley

Amid growing public clamor about the effect of off-road vehicles on humans (noise, dirt, vandalism and so forth), relatively little has been said about the ORV effect on the desert and the animals who inhabit it.

Within easy reach of the Mojave Desert are 595,781 ORVs registered by the Department of Motor Vehicles in seven Southern California counties, more than half of the 1,101,980 registered in the entire state.

ORV impact on the desert is huge, according to wildlife experts.

“Few vehicles could be found that are more effective in damaging soil and plant life than knobby-tired, powerful dirt bikes and four-wheel drives,” says Cal Berkely professor emeritus of zoology Robert C. Stebbins in a paper published in “The California Desert,” a 1995 book on man’s impact on the desert. “When off-road vehicles are used repeatedly in a limited area they can be utterly devastating,” says Professor Stebbins.

“It takes not more than a week for coyotes to quit denning and leave. Birds will leave even quicker,” under the impact of off-road vehicles, says Paul De Prey, Chief of Resources, Joshua Tree National Park.

“ORV activity is a destructive recreation,” says Michael Vamstad, Joshua Tree National Park wildlife ecologist. “Off-road vehicles are contributing to a lot of displacement of wildlife, particularly owls and hawks. The loss of land and resulting fragmentation of animal populations is the greatest threat to any species right now. The whole ecosystem gets thrown out of whack.”

Probably nowhere else can ORV destruction be seen so clearly as on one square mile of desert owned by the Town of Yucca Valley about five miles north of the town center. Called Section 11 by the town, and the Landau Gift by others, the land was given to Yucca Valley by Elizabeth and Edward Landau of New York City in 1996. About a third of the parcel was destroyed by a fire of unexplained origins Aug. 5, 1995.

The fire was followed by an invasion of dirt bikes, quads, pickups, four-by-fours, dune buggies, sand rails and Jeeps. Sheriff’s deputies and code enforcement officers say off-roaders are attracted to land cleared by fire because it’s easier to drive than native desert scrub.

Nesting red-tailed hawks and great-horned owls with five-foot wingspreads disappeared from Section 11, vanquished by the noise and stink of off-road vehicles. Threatened desert tortoise and other burrowing animals are uniquely vulnerable to death by ORV “dirt sports,” which crush their burrows, trapping them inside, or kill them outright.

Even light or moderate ORV traffic can cause lasting damage to wildlife and soils. The damage can be seen in the “edge effect” and the cryptobiotic crust, a one-quarter-inch thick “carpet” of nutrient-rich top soil that is critical to desert plant and animal life. The delicate crust is in a constant battle for survival with natural forces and when further compromised by dirt bikes can be converted into shifting sand dunes.

The “edge effect” of vehicle traffic propagating from roads like a wave into surrounding terrain has a ruinous impact on plants and animals alike. In this area, says Paul De Prey, native grasses lose the competition for water and nutrition to non-native species, such as red brome grass, which doesn’t decompose as quickly as native grasses. Instead, red brome dries out, its stalks becoming “flash fuel” that increase the frequency and size of wildfires. The effect is multiplied by roads and systems of roads created by ORV traffic on lands adjacent to highways.

“The decrease in the population of animals in a highway edge area has a trickle effect out into the desert. Put in another road, say a dirt bike trail that through repeated use becomes a road, and animal population between the roads is wiped out,” says De Prey.

Renewal of cryptobiotic crusts can take from 50 to 250 years. A destroyed ecosystem may require over 3,000 years for complete recovery, say co-authors Jeffrey E. Lovich and David Bainbridge in a 1999 article on the effect of human activity in the Southern California deserts.

SB County Board of Supervisors Keep Ordinance Strong !

  • Posted on: 22 August 2007
  • By: admin

The question at yesterday's Board of Supervisor's meeting regarding the ORV Ordinance was:

1) Accept an oral report from the Deputy Director, Code Enforcement of the Land Use Services Department (LUSD) regarding enforcement of San Bernardino County Ordinance 3973, Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) Ordinance. 2) Determine that the OHV Ordinance, as written, is effective, working as intended, and needs no changes. (Presenters: Julie Rynerson Rock and Randy Rogers)

The issue has now been officially recorded as "Approved" by the Clerk of the Board of Supervisors.

Thank you to all who have supported the ordinance by writing letters, signing petitions, calling the Supervisors and attending the BOS meeting yesterday.