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.