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.

Sincerely,

__________________________

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.)

How To Report ORV Abuse

A Guide for Callers to the Sheriff’s Department

Given current conditions, assistance in dealing with lawless OHV activity in the vicinity of your home is more likely from the Sheriff’s Dept. than either the BLM or the CHP. None of the three agencies consider unlawful OHV activity to be a high priority, so if you are to gain any benefit from an attempted contact with them it is important that you be willing to take the time and effort to see the call through. This isn’t always easy; responses are frequently hours late in arriving or do not come at all, so be prepared for a wait. Deputies aren’t always familiar with our community, so once you call it’s wise to stay near a phone so you can give further directions as needed. This can be inconvenient, and it’s tempting to just let it slide rather than commit to a process that could tie you up for hours, but here’s why it’s important to make that call:

  • If the Sheriff’s, Dept. receives few calls from a community regarding OHV abuse, they assume that it must not be a problem in that community. In the long run, this can affect future budgetary and patrol allocation decisions.
  • If nobody calls, the perpetrators get the impression that nobody cares about their behavior and they persist. Worse, over time they tell friends that our community is a great place to go tear around on your OHV because nobody will bother you, and the problem steadily worsens.
  • By not calling, we participate in our own victimization by succumbing to a “what’s the use?” attitude. This hurts community morale and perception over time, and lowers community expectations for services we are absolutely entitled to.

It really isn’t possible to write a “one size fits all” script for assuring a positive outcome on an OHV related call. Variables are numerous, and circumstances such as deputy availability, nature of the OHV activity, potential threat to life or safety, etc. may dictate a departure from the "script" during any given incident. Speaking of safety, that is the premier concern with any request for law enforcement. IMPORTANT: If you believe that the developing situation presents an eminent threat to life, health, or safety, then forget the OHV aspect and dial 911. If on the other hand, the situation is non threatening then the OHV complaint should be called in on the Sheriff Department’s regular non- emergency line. Here are a few pointers to maximize the possibility of a favorable outcome:

Report:

Tell the dispatcher the nature of your complaint, (trespass? disturbing the peace? reckless driving? damage to public or private property?) your name, phone number, the location where the OHV activity is occurring and your Home address. be sure to tell the dispatcher what community you live in, and the nearest cross street.
Depending on the hour you call, the SBSO dispatcher you speak to may be in either Victorville or Morongo Basin Station, and may have no idea where you are.

Take notes:

<p>It is important to note the name of the dispatcher you are speaking to, the time, and the incident number. They may not give you an incident number unless you ask. This information serves two purposes:</p>
<ol>
<li>It helps you to follow up on a specific call at a later time or date
<li>We may can your call information to verify that OHV related calls from our community are being recorded accurately by the Sheriff’s Dept.
</ol>
<p>Be sure to ask for a &quot;deputy contact&quot;. This assures you an opportunity to discuss the problem with the deputy and increases the likelihood that the Incident number will be officially recorded. Without a deputy contact, call information is not always retained by the Sheriff’s Dept. Note the time a deputy arrives. If a deputy fails to show up, that information is also important to pass on for eventual use in negotiating with officials on behalf of our community.</p>
<h4>Be a good observer:</h4>
<p>While you wait for a deputy, gather as much information as possible:</p>
<ul>
<li>Write it down along with the incident number, date, etc. What were they riding? what do they look like?
<li>Which way did they come from and what direction are they going? Did they appear to have proper helmets and safety gear?
<li>Do you have any idea what cabin, home, or street they are originating from?
<li>Are they trespassing on your land? Your neighbor’s land?
<li>Are they making a lot of noise late at night? Are they juveniles or adults?
<li>What kind(s) of OHV’s? How many? Anything you can tell the deputy may help.
</ul>

<h4>Be courteous:</h4>
<p>Whether speaking to a dispatcher or a deputy, always be courteous.</p>
<p>Regardless of how we feel about being ignored or marginalized by the county, the law enforcement employees we make contact with perform a very difficult job and deserve our respect. They aren’t necessarily in a position to make policy decisions, and by treating them with dignity and respect we bring out their best while representing our community in a positive light. If the response time is long, the deputy isn’t necessarily to blame. Calls in the basin that involve risk to human life take priority over non – emergency calls.</p>

<h4>Be assertive:</h4>
<p>Dispatchers may try to dissuade you or convince you that it’s &quot;not the Sheriff Department’s responsibility&quot;. If you believe that your situation requires a deputy, be assertive. If you believe that the developing situation presents an immediate threat to human safety (yours or otherwise) stress that point. If the dispatcher is still uncooperative, ask to speak with the Watch Commander. other agencies:</p>
<p>If you feel your situation should rightfully include contact with the BLM or CHP, reporting your situation to them is a good additional step.</p>
<p>An example of a situation where you might want to make such an added contact might be observing OHVs trespassing both&nbsp; on private property and closed BLM lands. The likelihood of a response from either the BLM or CHP is (currently) very low in unincorporated areas, but every call we make makes us harder to ignore. Your call counts.</p>

<h3>Useful Phone Numbers:</h3>
<p>Emergencies – call 911</p>
<p>Morongo Basin Sheriff’s Office, Non Emergency calls:</p>
<p>From 29 Palms or Wonder Valley, call (760) 367 – 9546 or (760) 367 -9544</p>
<p>Morongo Basin CHP Office: (760) 366 – 3707</p>

San Bernardino County Sheriffs Department Dispatch — ask for Sergeant
Rick Collins or the watch commander– follow instructions on how to
make a report

(760) 366-3781

County Code Enforcement – Call (760) 366-4110 – Supervisor Ignacio Nunez – Senior Code Enforcement Officer Hugh Oram — Document and incidents of ORV abuse with video and photograph them. Leave a message if you get a recording. At this writing (February 2017 Code Enforcement is only staffed during M-F business hours.

(760) 366-4110

Bureau of Land Management — ask for resident Ranger Kevin MacClean

(760) 252-6075
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<hr>
You may also submit a report of any incident via this <a href=”?q=node/57″>form</a> but please note that such a submission is to be used as both a guide to report ORV abuse to the Sheriffs Department and Code Enforcement and for our own records. <strong>MAKE SURE YOU SUBMIT A REPORT TO THE PROPER AGENCY in addition to filling out this form. When you submit this form via the COW web site, COW WILL NOT make a report to law enforcement agencies; that is your responsibility.</strong> We will use the information you submit via our form to gather information for an annual report.
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About Community ORV Watch

Who is Community ORV Watch?

Community ORV Watch (COW) was formed in early 2004 as a response to increasing illegal off-road vehicle use in the Morongo Basin in the Southern California desert. The time was ripe for residents and property-owners to start turning the tide on the destruction of public and private lands and a presumed “right to ride” that is trampling over the real rights—and property!—of desert residents. Since then, we’ve helped ignite the fuse that has brought the issue front and center in the desert and redrawn the lines of the debate. Our members are residents, property owners, and supporters in the Morongo Basin—and you!

What has COW accomplished so far?

We’ve worked steadily with law enforcement to improve their response to ORV abuse, including helping to develop an informational brochure for riders and residents; working to clarify and, when necessary, change routes, law, and policy; and supporting the Sheriff’s Office in obtaining a State OHV Commission Grant for enforcement in Yucca Valley. We’ve developed and made available “No ORVs Allowed/No Trespassing” signs and will soon erect a large-format “ORV Enforcement Area” sign on Highway 62.

We’ve brought the ORV abuse issue into the public debate by working with the local press and by networking with other desert areas that are experiencing the same problem.

With a number of other groups we’ve helped form the Alliance for Responsible Recreation, and together we presented the very successful and empowering “Desert Communities Under Seige” Conference in Joshua Tree in February 2005. We’re building the capacity of local groups throughout the Morongo Basin and beyond to organize in their areas to defend their lands through neighborhood watch and respond programs.

What do we want?

MISSION STATEMENT, COMMUNITY ORV WATCH

We are local residents and property owners who are responding to the crisis of unlawful Off-Road Vehicle (ORV) use in the Morongo Basin.

ORV lawlessness is causing widespread and frequently permanent damage to private property and our public lands. It is menacing our communities, endangering the health and safety of rider and non-rider alike, degrading our property values, and increasing resident and community costs. This vandalism is in violation of the law, and our public agencies have been ineffective in addressing this problem by failing to uphold existing law.

We intend to stop it! How?

Community organizing and neighborhood vigilance.
Demanding effective law enforcement.
Holding our elected officials accountable.
Public education about rights and responsibilities.
Holding riders and parents liable for the damage they do, through enforcement of the law and civil action.
Pursuing every legal means available to us.