Over The Lip

There’s now more than 127,000 acres of land open to off-road recreation in the ISDRA. But the fight is not over. The enviro groups are working overtime to try and close areas where you enjoy spending time with your family, including the ISDRA.

The Fight's Not Over

There’s now more than 127,000 acres of land open to off-road recreation in the ISDRA
By Michael Sommer | July 18, 2014



Without attempting to give a long, boring history lesson regarding what has transpired in the California desert since the 1980s, it’s important to quickly look back at the land use battle that has been transpiring over the years. Then, we will take at where things stand today so you can determine the level of support you’re able to offer the off-road organizations that are helping to keep your favorite riding areas open for OHV recreation.
Not long after the Endangered Species Act was passed in 1973, we began to see large amounts of public land being closed in the name of conservation and environmental protection. This happened to more than a half-dozen sand dune areas in the California desert alone, not to mention millions of acres of remote land that was used for recreation of all types — not just off-road vehicles, but also hiking, mountain bike riding, horseback riding, fishing, hunting, etc. It’s been systematically happening, from district to district, parcel by parcel, for several years and today there’s only a small portion of public land that remains open for recreation.
What’s worse is the manner in which this has been happening, on both a social and economic level. In short, the extreme nonprofit environmental groups have been using (abusing) the framework of the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (signed into law by Richard Nixon) to sue the Federal Government under the premise that peer science (no formal study required) has determined a particular species of wildlife (reptile, bird, insect, plant, etc.) is “threatened” and that the land should be closed until a Federal Agency can prove they have the ability to properly manage the area and protect the species. At that point, the court rules that the land is “temporarily closed” and the environmental groups get reimbursed for their legal fees which are paid by the Federal Government (i.e. our hard earned tax dollars).
That’s the method in which closures happened at the Kelso Sand Dunes, Rice Valley Sand Dunes, portions of Pismo and the dunes north of Highway 78 near Glamis. It would take way too long to tell you exactly how all this happened over the years, but it’s all on the internet if you want to look it up and read about it.
In 1999, after yet another threat of a large land closure at the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area (the center portion of the dunes designated as a Wilderness Study Area), a small group of off-roaders got together and created the American Sand Association (ASA). The ASA founders became educated on the processes in which public lands are closed to the public, and began sharing this information with other off-road enthusiasts, specifically those who recreate at the ISDRA.
Unfortunately, portions of the dunes were eventually closed to protect the Pierson’s Milk Vetch plant. This resulted in a lot of pissed off people who grew up riding in the Imperial Dunes. Luckily, the duners had someone on their side — the ASA. The founders of the ASA stood by their mission statement that reads, “Unite, Inform and Mobilize,” which is what they’ve been doing for more than 14 years.
As the result of countless volunteers, hundreds of thousands of man-hours, lots of fund raisers, expensive legal fees, tedious biological studies, knowledgeable attorneys, and dedication from duners such as yourself, the dunes have been reopened. This is nothing less than a miracle if you really want to know the truth. Very few species have been taken off the Endangered Species List, and even fewer recreation areas have been reopened for public recreation.
What this means is that the closure stakes in the dunes have been removed, thanks again to off-roaders who volunteer their time and efforts to do the work. That’s right, there’s now more than 127,000 acres of land open to off-road recreation in the ISDRA. But the fight is not over. The enviro groups are working overtime to try and close areas where you enjoy spending time with your family, including the ISDRA. Now, more than ever, we urge you to get involved with the leading off-road organization supporting your riding area. Begin with websites such as the American Sand Association (ASA), Off-Road Business Association (ORBA), CORVA, and the Blue Ribbon Coalition, to name a few.
It’s also important that you become a member of these organizations and stay informed about current events related to your favorite riding area. To learn specific information about the changes that have taken place in Glamis, visit the BLM website and search “Imperial Sand Dunes” and “2014/2015 ISD Facts and FAQs.” You can also use this shortened URL: www.tinyurl.com/2014-2015-ISDRA-Facts .
The fight is far from being over. But, as we move forward to prevent more riding areas from being closed, let’s enjoy the dunes in the areas that have reopened after more than a decade.

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