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OHV Title

Yucca Valley Police Department

 Grant reference # YVPD G09-03-22-L01 – Law Enforcement

My husband and I are residents of Pipes Canyon in Pioneertown, an unincorporated area adjacent to the city of Yucca Valley. We strongly support funding the Yucca Valley Police Department’s grant for law enforcement related to OHV activity.

Pipes Canyon is part of the vast network the grant describes in the Morongo Basin of dirt roads and trails frequented by OHV users.  A dirt telephone cable road running through our property has been used as a corridor by OHV users looking for a route off the paved road to the BLM land accessed through Burns Canyon.  In spite of our gates and signage designating private property, vehicles occasionally and apparently willfully enter/trespass.  When they do so we have seen evidence where they have driven off the road onto the vegetation to get around the gates and vertical mulching.

I am reluctant to engage these individuals directly as neighbor to neighbor. In the past when I did so, a motorcycle driver (face covered in protective gear) responded by turning do-nuts to kick-up dust as he reversed course and “flipping” me the “bird.”  While I have had cordial encounters with other riders and this was harmless enough (if rude,) the experience left me feeling vulnerable and reluctant to address unwelcomed OHV riders again. I heard testimonials at the MAC meeting in Joshua Tree and at the County Board of Supervisors meeting this March which addressed the OHV ordinances.  Private property owners spoke of being harassed, intimidated, and retaliated against after confronting  “bad apple” OHV riders.  These residents documented an unacceptable civil situation. Frankly, it appears to me to be on the verge of an “out of control” law enforcement environment that could escalate without proper intervention.

Funding this grant is critical given the growing populations in the metropolitan areas nearby, the dirt roads networking our rural community, adjacency to legal OHV areas, and the evidence of the increased volume of OHV disturbance calls to law enforcement over the past year. Marking and monitoring routes used by OHV riders, as well as distributing literature will be beneficial.  Additional support to enforce OHV codes will serve to mitigate tension between the citizens on both sides of this issue by curbing the illegal activity.  We enthusiastically recommend funding the Yucca Valley Police Department grant. [Sarah Kennington & Steve Bardwell - 4/3/10]

 I would like to comment on the Yucca Valley Police Department State OHV grant.  The grant is asking for over $73k to fight illegal OHV use within the city limits of Yucca Valley.  The grant application states “Yucca Valley does not offer Off Highway Vehicle (OHV) roads or trails within town limits.”  OHV grants are opportunity grants, meaning, they are given to support OHV recreation.  Since the City of Yucca Valley has no legal OHV use, it is hard to recommend granting them money to stop OHV use.  It is unfortunate that illegal OHV use continues, but until Yucca Valley can create legal OHV in the city, the city should not receive OHV money for law enforcement. [Ed Stovin, CORVA - 3/30/10]

 Please grant in full the Yucca Valley Police Department request for 2009-2010 law enforcement funds to curtail OHV trespass in their jurisdiction.

The funds are needed to support a thinly dispersed police force in the vitally important work to preserve the desert environment for present and future generations.

Much progress has been made by our police force and much remains to be done.  OHV control requires constant vigilance.

I have lived in an area of heavy OHV activity on the southern border of Section 11, a square mile of town owned desert, since May, 1995.  When I moved here Section 11 was a veritable Garden of Eden.  OHV trespass was nil.  Then a convergence of two events occurred:  In August, 1995, about half of the eastern portion of Section 11 burned in a fire of unexplained origins.  This event was followed by an invasion of OHVs, and subsequent trampling of the land and its native plants and animals.  Deputies say OHV riders are attracted to burns because removal of physical features such as trees and bushes by fire allows greater speed and mobility across the terrain, improving the thrill of the ride.

Wildlife biologists, zoologists, ecologists, geologists, soil and dirt road experts say ORVs are a destructive recreation.

As the loud, disruptive OHV activity continued, and increased, animal populations declined dramatically.  Nesting Red-tailed Hawks and Great Horned Owls left Section 11.  Coyotes quit denning.  Quail numbers and nests have diminished by half, or more, as estimated by visual observation of habitat.  Snakes are seen infrequently and desert tortoise have vanished.  Section 11 is now occupied mainly by rodents, rabbits, birds, and ants and other insects.

Yet wildlife resource advocates such as Pat Flanagan of The Mojave Desert Land Trust are optimistic that abused deserts such as Section 11 can recover and animal populations will return, if kept OHV free.

Citizen calls to police for protection, letters to the editor, and appearances at public forums to protest OHV trespass on Section 11 have been met by reprisal from rogue OHV riders, mainly in the form of acts of harassment and vandalism.

Recently, a group of citizens convinced the Town Council of Yucca Valley to order NO ORV ACCESS signs posted on Section 11.  The signs were placed around the perimeter of the eastern half of Section 11 by the Yucca Valley Public Works Department February 27, 2010. The relief was almost immediate, but short lived.  Within about three weeks, dirt bikers returned, although much fewer in number.  The signing worked, even if imperfectly.   A longer period will be required to determine if the signs have a lasting effect on reduction of ORV trespass.

Sometime between Thursday night, March 18, and Friday morning one of the signs was pulled out of the ground and placed facedown, quite a feat as the signs are 10 feet tall and anchored in 60 pounds of concrete.  The signs cost $79.79 each, according to the Yucca Valley Public Works Department, and seven of them are in place around the perimeter of Section 11.   Additional costs include the personnel and equipment required to install the signs.

OHVs ride on our berms and cause erosion and mud slides when the hard August thundershowers come.  Their noise and dirt invades our homes and premises.  The loud noise has been shown to cause hearing loss in certain animals so severe that it impairs their ability to detect predators, according to wildlife studies.

In my opinion, public money to regulate OHV activities is well spent.

Thank you for your continuing support of the Yucca Valley Police OHV Enforcement Team. [Russell Drake - 3/31/10]

 Every single Law Enforcement grant should have a commitment and focus to catch the "Willfully Ignorant" visitor.  We see every day folks doing what ever they want and they feel immune  because it is their feeling "there is no one around to catch me"    That has to change.  Yes, we have Green Sticker Violations, sound violations, and other normal day to day violations that by now should be all in compliance.  It is the "Willfully Ignorant " that does not abide by the rules of the areas they ride in, i.e. "Stay on Designated Trails " "Respect Private Property"   "Know the rules of area you are riding in "  be it Forest Service, BLM, City and County.  All of us can put pressure on the "Willfully Ignorant" but it is Law Enforcement that needs to focus their talent to those that want to ruin it for everyone.  We can not let them rule our destiny or how we are being portrait in the eyes of the public and government elected officials.   
The other area of grave concern is our children, we need to make sure that all children 16 and under on Quads have the proper certification. We need to make sure that they are properly dressed to ride, no tank tops, tennis shoes and short pants.   Parents need to be told of their responsibility in the strongest possible manner, ticket.  

Thank you all for working this very difficult issue.   [Ed Waldheim "OHV activist for access to  public lands for all" - 3/28/10]

 See attached comments [3/25/10]

 Attached are public comments for the Town of Yucca Valley grant request.  These were collected at a local public meeting that was related to OHV issues. [3/22/10]

 Attached is a letter of support for the Yucca Valley Police Department OHV grant application.  This letter was dropped off at the police station.  [3/16/10]

 The Mojave Desert Land Trust is writing in support of the Yucca Valley Police Department request to the state OHMVD for $74.000 in law enforcement funds. Several times in the past year we have called on the Morongo Basin Station to contact and apprehend OHV riders illegally recreating on a parcel the Land Trust is acquiring for its high quality wildlife habitat. It is especially important for containing the highest density of the threatened desert tortoise in the Basin, and possible this entire section of the Mojave Desert. We have invested many thousands of dollars toward the purchase of and now the restoration of this parcel after destructive trespass. We are appreciative of your officers’ professionalism, response time and investigative skills. We also appreciate your on-going efforts to educate the OHV public on the legal places to ride. This outreach is important to protect our private property and public lands from thoughtless OHV destruction, noise, and dust. A strong law enforcement presence is essential to maintaining the peace between OHV enthusiasts and opponents in this sparsely settled areas of San Bernardino county. Thank you for all the important work that your department does our behalf. [Pat Flanagan - 3/16/10]