Southern California Access Issues

Nightmare at Nightmare Gulch

nightmare-gulch-trespass-1While on patrol on June 11th, State Parks Law Enforcement discovered a significant amount of 4X4 off-road damage at the north end of Nightmare Gulch in Red Rock Canyon State Park. It appears that a group of unknown off-roaders blazed their own path to follow the boundary fence line and find its weak spots. They were successful, and entered Nightmare Gulch during the birds of prey nesting closure.

This was a large group of people in 4X4’s who collectively decided to violate state law. It is estimated this happened within the last two weeks, and there were at least eight vehicles in the group. See attached pictures showing the damage. 

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Marines detail plan for Johnson Valley

Reprinted from The Desert Sun, May 8, 2014

YUCCA VALLEY – Off-road enthusiasts, conservationists and local residents got their first look Wednesday night at the new configuration of Johnson Valley after Congress handed over 132,000 acres of the off-road recreation area to the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center in Twentynine Palms.

About 25 people attended a joint presentation by the Bureau of Land Management and the Marine Corps during a meeting at the Yucca Valley Community Center.

On Dec. 26, President Barrack Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act of 2014, appropriating 79,000 acres to the combat center for exclusive military use, 53,000 acres for shared use by the public and the combat center, and designated the balance of the area — 43,000 acres — as the Johnson Valley Off-Highway Vehicle Recreation Area.

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Epic decision portends new balance for reopening dunes in Glamis

Jeep on dune in GlamisSAN FRANCISCO, CA - Recreational visitors observing a fine flaky substance this morning at the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area (ISDRA) will be pleased to hear it is not snow but judicial manna. Barely a month following argument, U.S. District Judge Susan Illston of the U.S. Northern District Court of California yesterday issued a long-awaited decision on the 2013 ISDRA management plan, ruling almost entirely on the side of the Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and sand-rider organizations, and against the latest challenge led by the Center for Biological Diversity. The ruling sets the stage for implementation of the 2013 plan, which would allow resumption of access to areas placed off-limits to riders through “interim” closures imposed over a decade ago.

The litigation over riding at the ISDRA began in 2000, and has resulted in multiple trips to Judge Illston’s courtroom where BLM, USFWS, and recreation enthusiasts have suffered multiple setbacks. The 2013 plan followed lengthy public input and was designed in response to the Court’s 2006 ruling and new critical habitat designation by the USFWS for the Peirson’s milk-vetch (PMV), the plant species of primary concern at the Dunes. Preservationist plaintiffs raised an array of challenges under the Endangered Species Act and other laws to the new plan, but yesterday’s decision rejected those claims and upheld BLM’s plan, with the limited exception of finding that a recovery plan for the PMV is overdue and must be issued by 2019 unless the USFWS makes a specific finding that a recovery plan will not promote conservation of the species.

A copy of yesterday’s decision can be viewed at this link.

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