ORV Abuse At Post Homestead Site

From the Hi-Desert Star Letters to the Editor:

Historic site deserves attention

Saturday, October 28, 2006 12:26 AM PDT

An historic site in Wonder Valley with old adobe ruins from the Post Homestead and protected sand dunes was vandalized by off-road vehicles. The ruins were run over and the adobe walls were used for target practice. New routes have been cut into sand dunes that are strictly off-limits to ORVs. The vandals ran over barriers and right past “no trespassing” signs.

Last spring, over 50 people participated in a cleanup and restoration sponsored Community ORV Watch, the Morongo Basin Conservation Association and the Twentynine Palms Historical Society with the assistance of the Bureau of Land Management which provided hand tools, bags, and a dump truck. The BLM crew of six staff included an archeologist and biologist studying the site.

The adobe ruins, perhaps as old as 100 years, are protected by the Archeological Resource Protection Act (ARPA).

Local residents are asking that both the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department and the Bureau of Land Management investigate the vandalism. The area needs and deserves more protection. COW will continue to monitor the site for trespass and vandalism. Contact us to volunteer to help protect our natural and cultural heritage at www.orvwatch.com.

Phil Klasky
Community ORV Watch
Wonder Valley

COW Goes to Sacramento

On September 19th, COW members Carol Metzger, Mark Hueston, Eve Vykydal and Phil Klasky joined 25 activists from around the state to educate our elected representatives on ORV issues. We worked with the California Wilderness Coalition, Trust for Public Lands, Sierra Club, The Wilderness Society, Desert Protective Council, Alliance for Responsible Recreation, plus other groups and just plain folks who have to face the crisis of ORV abuse in almost every corner of California.

The ORV industry and use groups employ professional lobbyists who regularly press the palms of the legislators, but our message that there is a urgent need to protect public lands, natural and cultural resources, waterways, shared recreational lands, wilderness areas and private property was very effective. The ORV lobby has been trying to get rid of the state OHV Commission of citizen appointees that provides grants for law enforcement and restoration so that they can assert their political influence on the state OHV Division to follow their agenda of lax enforcement and more and more public lands turned into play areas for ORVs.

We organized ourselves into teams and visited dozens of key legislators. We found some of the legislative aides very receptive to our message and others, including our own Senator Ashburn, to be downright unfriendly.

Carol Metzger reported that in her visits, the aides were supportive, "They were interested and they listened to us. I think we made a difference." Mark Hueston reflected on the day, "We definitely laid a foundation and I look forward to opportunities in the future to focus on a broader message regarding ORV abuse of homeowners and property owners."

But this is just the start of a process to pass comprehensive, proactive and strong legislation to curb illegal and irresponsible ORV damage throughout the state. We are working within a diverse, knowledgeable and effective coalition of people and will try to build on our success with the San Bernardino County ordinance to get the laws and enforcement we need.

New Digital Cameras and Decibel Meter Available to Document ORV Abuse

Message to COW members:

COW has two digital cameras and a decibel meter available to members for the purpose of documentation of ORV abuses for law enforcement and code enforcement. Since San Bernardino County passed an ORV ordinance effective July 1, 2006, residents can seek relief from nuisance (noise, dust, harassment, trespass, etc.) by documenting abuses and making this documentation available to San Bernardino County Code Enforcement. Members can take digital still pictures and short videos with the cameras and use the decibel meters to estimate noise violations.

Documentation can also be used for civil lawsuits, to gain law enforcement and for evidence in court. The decibel meter is certified as properly calibrated. Gather your evidence and then call Code Enforcement (760) 228-5426 and ask to speak to Mike Romage.

To borrow this equipment in the WEST END of the Morongo Basin contact:

Jack or Victoria Fuller at (760) 366-7912.

Members will be expected to treat the equipment with care, check it out for a specific period of time and return on time or contact the COW representatives to ask for an extension.

This fall COW will be holding a workshop on how to operate the equipment and how to document ORV abuse for legal and law enforcement purposes.

BLM Hires a Resident Ranger for the Morongo Basin

After three years of advocacy on the part of Morongo Basin residents, the Bureau of Land Management announced that it has hired a resident ranger for the Morongo Basin to be based in Twentynine Palms.

The new resident ranger, Kevin McLean, will work with local residents to make sure that public lands are protected from illegal off-road vehicle (ORV) and other destructive activities.

"We applaud Barstow BLM Field Office Manager Roxie Trost for following through on her promise to refill the position and we look forward to welcoming the new ranger and working with him to stop the destruction of our public lands," said Phil Klasky with Community ORV Watch.

Every holiday weekend, ORV riders trespass on public lands that are strictly off-limits to them.  Wilderness lands have been scarred by ORVs and some federal lands have become illegal ORV playgrounds. According to the law, there is no open or cross-country riding allowed on public lands anywhere in the Morongo Valley.  Riders must stay on designated routes in the few areas where ORVs are allowed. ORVs cause damage to plant and animal habitat and can permanently scar the landscape.

The local BLM office is in Barstow and due to the long distances and understaffing public lands in the Morongo Basin have suffered. In addition, some parts of the Morongo Basin are a checkerboard pattern of public and private lands making law enforcement particularly difficult. Other law enforcement challenges include illegal dumping, shooting and vandalism.

The new ranger will be encouraged to cooperate with the local Sheriff’s Department and other law enforcement agencies and work side-by-side with Community ORV Watch and other local organizations.

Victory For The Desert! San Bernardino County ORV Ordinance Passes with Overwhelming Support

The San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors unanimously passed a far-reaching ordinance to control the crisis of ORV abuse in the state’s largest county. Residents from all over San Bernardino representing dozens of community groups were virtually unopposed as they testified about the need to stop the epidemic of illegal and irresponsible activity such as trespass, harassment, property destruction, noise, dust and the damage to public lands/wilderness. Some of the supervisors, while expressing support for the measure, inquired into other provisions that would require visible license plates and other forms of identification and the confiscation of vehicles involved in repeated violations. ORVs involved in an alarming number of accidents involving children.

The new ordinance will provide law enforcement with the tools to crack down on illegal riders including:

  1. A process by which residents can seek judicial relief from nuisance and harassment
  2. A requirement that ORV stagings (unofficial large scale events) obtain a special use permit — which can be challenged by local residents
  3. Riders must carry written permission on their person to ride on private property not their own
  4. Strict limits on noise at the tailpipe
  5. The ordinance can be enforced by both code enforcement and the Sheriff’s department

The ordinance was the result of community action, dedicated volunteers and a stakeholder process that negotiated a fair and effective law. The supervisors have yet to identify the funds to be used to provide for four new positions for county code enforcement and will be discussing the issue in their budget proposal process in the next two months. The ordinance became law July 1, 2006.

Here is the text of the OHV Ordinance

Clean-up and Reclamation of the Post Homestead Historical and Natural Site

On Saturday, June 3, over 40 volunteers gathered to clean-up and protect a historic stage stop and homestead site in Wonder Valley. The area is also home to rare species and magnificent displays of spring wildflowers.

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) assisted with the clean-up with a dump truck and hand tools and Community ORV Watch provided delicious food, cool drinks, T-shirts and work gloves. BLM Archeologist Jim Shearer gave a presentation about his discoveries along with a history lesson from the Wonder Valley Historical Society by Pat Rimmington, information about Native American history of the area by Bob Harris and a talk about the flora and fauna by naturalist Pat Flanagan.

The successful clean-up effort was sponsored by Community ORV Watch of the Morongo Basin, the Alliance for Responsible Recreation, the Morongo Basin Conservation Association and the Twentynine Palms Historical Society in collaboration with the Barstow field office of the BLM.

The site contains adobe ruins and evidence of historic habitation. Research suggests that the site served as a freighting and stage stop en route to both the Dale Mining District and Amboy as early as 1899. The site was once homesteaded by Dave and Anna Post. Dave was known as Judge Post, since he served as the Justice of the Peace for Twentynine Palms and as such played a role in the history of the 1943 shooting of Worth Bagley by Bill Keys, an important piece of local history. The BLM has conducted an investigation of the site including an archeological dig revealing clues to the area’s history. The agency is also conducting a biological survey of the area located on public lands.

The ruins, historic site and natural area have suffered from vandalism, illegal dumping and off-road vehicle destruction. In fact, ORVs had used the historic 100 year old adobe structure as a jump!

The site is located on Chadwick Road south of Amboy Road. Local volunteers will be monitoring the site for illegal activity especially on holiday weekends when ORVs have ravaged the area.

Act Now to Protect California’s Wild Places from Off Road Vehicle Abuse!

The California Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Commission provides crucial policy guidance for the management of off-road vehicles (ORVs) on public lands in California. It also provides an important forum for public input on the state’s ORV Program. As ORV abuse has exploded in recent years, the Commission has worked tirelessly to provide essential funds for law enforcement and restoration grants. These grants have helped to restore damaged areas, to protect pristine places from being harmed and to confine ORV use to the most appropriate locations.

Unfortunately, our public lands are threatened by ill-conceived proposals from off-roaders and the Schwarzenegger Administration to eliminate this important commission. Dismantling the commission would leave California’s streams, deserts, forests and other valuable public and private lands at risk from increased ORV abuse.

We need you to stand up for California’s wild places!

Let your Assembly member know that you support the renewal of the California Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Commission.

Call, write, email or fax your state legislator today!

To identify and get contact information for your Assembly member, find your district.

Here is a sample letter you can send:

Dear Assembly Member [Last name of your state legislator],

As a California voter and a constituent I urge you to support the renewal of the California Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Commission.

The Commission helps promote responsible off-road vehicle recreation while preserving our public lands and waterways. I support the Commission for the following reasons:

– The Commission provides transparency, public input and legislative oversight for California’s off-road vehicle recreation program.

– The Commission has successfully protected and restored many of California’s sensitive forests, deserts and streams from off-road vehicle abuse.

– The Commission oversees important law enforcement programs that protect local communities from ORV noise, air pollution, property damage and trespassing.

Please help protect our local communities, water quality and public lands by supporting the renewal of the California Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Commission.



Your Name and Full Address

Wanted Posters — Another Strategy to Stop the Outlaws

When you encounter and can photograph offenders, you can create a "wanted" poster and distribute it throughout town — auto mechanics, bars, gas stations, hardware stores, taxi services, ORV venders and repair shops.

In this case, this individual drove past three "No Trespassing" signs and when Phil Klasky tried to engage in conversation with him, he responded with epithets and threats. As Phil took the his photo, the rider jumped onto his $10,000 quad and tried to run Phil over and slugged him in the process. The rider needs to understand that there are consequences for his actions and that we will not stand by and allow these outlaws to destroy our lands and assault us. We are also working with the Sheriff’s Department to identify the criminal through sales records to make an arrest.

If you have any information regarding this incident contact the Sheriff: (760) 366-4175 and refer to Case# 090060016

You may download a copy of this wanted poster by clicking here so you can print and distribute as many copies as you wish. (Adobe Reader required.)