Editorial – People have recourse against season of slaughter

From an editorial letter published on 12/13/06 on the Hi-Desert Star website:

By Phillip Klasky / Wonder Valley

This holiday season, while most people look forward to quality time with friends and family, Morongo Basin residents are gearing up for the annual invasion of off-road vehicles (ORVs) and the noise, dust, nuisance, trespass, drug and alcohol use and harassment that comes with them. ORVs destroy our roads and flood control berms, trespass on our private property and damage public lands and wilderness areas off-limits to motorized incursions.

Literally hundreds of riders from urban areas in Riverside and San Bernardino counties will tear through our neighborhoods and disturb our peace and private property.

Widespread trespass and harassment makes this time of year a “season of slaughter” for those of us who live here and pay taxes to maintain our roads and pay for emergency, fire and law enforcement services.

But residents have powerful tools to protect their private and public lands. Armed with a new county ordinance, we have given law enforcement the tools they have been asking for.

ORV stagings of 10 or more persons are illegal unless they obtain a special event permit which can be contested by harassed neighbors; it is unlawful to operate ORVs on private property without possession of written permission by the owner of that property; excessive noise, dust and disturbing the peace is unlawful; and, unless they are street legal, ORVs cannot use Count Service Area (CSA) roads.

Fines have been increased and repeat offenders will have to spend time in County jail.

Help is on the way thanks to our dedicated law enforcement and code enforcement officers who will be working overtime to deal with ORV complaints.

Fulfilling a promise to the community, the Bureau of Land Management has hired a resident ranger working out of Yucca Valley.

But you have to be persistent when you call to make sure you get a response.

An E-Mail Exchange Between an ORV Rider and a COW Member

We received this message from an ORV rider:

Correct me if I am wrong but in your invitation to attend a meeting to complain about “Trespassing on Public Land” – isn’t that a giant oxymoron. How can anyone be accused of trespassing on PUBLIC land.

Your group needs to grow up.

A COW Member responded:

Rider —

You are misinformed if you think that all public lands are open to ORVs. Check with your local office of the Bureau of Land Management (or go their web site) and view maps that how that public lands have different official multi-use designations (no vehicles, no horses, no grazing, restricted ORV routes, etc.) with ORVs limited to designated routes only. The only open area where people can ride wherever they want is in Johnson Valley, not in our communities. Last Thanksgiving there were literally hundreds of ORVs trespassing on public lands off-limits to them.

Almost all of the public lands in the Morongo Basin are off-limits to ORVs. But don’t take our word for it, ask a BLM ranger or the captain or watch commander of the local Sheriffs station. ORVs must stay on designated routes, and stay off private property as well.

Public land is land for all of us, as well as for future generations. Too many riders treat public land as “anything goes” that is not right, and it is illegal trespass on public lands. ORVs are very destructive to the environment and that is why we continue to press for more law enforcement. Too many riders continue to ride where they know they should not go and we need riders like you to find out the facts and inform others on how to ride responsibly and legally.

— COW member