Desert Tortoise Preserve Committee, Inc.
Please support and approve the Desert Tortoise Preserve Committee's (DTPC) grant application to increase educational outreach to OHV recreationists through the development and implementation of an integrated environmental education and responsible recreation program.
As you know, this proposed grant program would promote an outdoor ethic and teach responsible recreation guidelines relevant for OHV recreation in the Mojave desert. Among other methods, this program would accomplish these objectives through organizing events and providing educational materials at the Desert Tortoise Research Natural Area in Kern County.
I was a long-time California resident, and I extensively visited the Mojave desert beginning in the mid 1960s. For several months in the mid 1970s, I also lived in Lancaster. I saw the onset of the veritable "explosion" in the popularity of motorized recreation in the Mojave desert, and I was one of those who enjoyed exploring the desert not only on foot but also on a motorcycle. As the years passed, I saw how many once pristine desert areas became heavily scarred, eroded, and fragmented through cumulative OHV recreational uses. I saw the hillclimbs and ridges interwoven with many OHV tracks and trails, and how many former single-track primitive routes became badly braided, expanded roads.
As someone who loves the Mojave desert's beauty and biodiversity, this experience taught me the importance of OHV riders developing a standard of ethics and taking personal responsibility for where and how they ride. Individuals should be able to enjoy the freedom that roaming and exploring the desert provides, but not at the expense of the recreational experience for others nor to the detriment of resources that belong to everyone. Ethical riding is the key to striking this balance. As such, I believe that approving and funding this DTPC grant will help advance these necessary and appropriate OHV educational activities. Moreover, the DTPC has been a stable and effective organization for many years, and has a positive reputation among desert stakeholders.
Thank you very much for considering my comments. [Richard Spotts - 4/4/11]
Funding this grant would be a travesty that would provide OHV dollars to fund an organization that not only provides no OHV opportunity, but actively opposes OHV use and spends a significant portion of its budget fencing out OHVs. Their website http://www.tortoise-tracks.org/ has few references to OHV, but the ones that they do have are negative, like this one: "Within the desert's fragile ecosystem, tortoise populations are rapidly diminishing; in some places they have disappeared. Losses are due to ... (long list) ... and off-road vehicle use.”
DTPC has a history of creating 'Tortoise Preserves' and clearly plans to do more of the same -- their grant dollars would go to publicizing their efforts to put tall fences in the desert, blocking out OHV use. In their grant proposal, they detail a 75% reduction on road kills, but those kills are on paved roads, and there's no documentation available to connect slower-moving dirt road and trail traffic to tortoise kills. I support the efforts to encourage desert tortoise growth, but those efforts should not be funded with OHMVR grant dollars, since those efforts would not enhance OHV recreational opportunity.
The OHV Visitor Opportunity Summary for this grant is way out of whack -- they appear to be claiming the OHV opportunity for the entirety of Ridgecrest Field Office's BLM-administered lands, even though the DTPC grant stands to affect only a fraction of the BLM lands, and will likely be spent on tortoise-preserve areas where OHV use is prevented. The OHV Visitor Opportunity Summary scores need assessed by percentage of land used, with a corresponding reduction in weighting (Sections Bii, Biii, Biv, and Bv and Section D) to avoid unfairly skewing this grant high in that rating category. I also think it is unfair for DTPC to claim OHMVR grant points for maps, staging areas, trail signage, variety of OHV opportunity, since these maps, signs, and hand-outs detail desert tortoises, but have little useful info about OHV use.
Please rescore this grant and consider what little benefit that funding it will provide for OHV users or their access. There are many better grants available that will help OHV usage and access -- this DTPC grant appears to be a thinly-disguised effort to divert OHV funding to non-OHV agendas.
Thank you for considering my comments. [Randy Burleson - 4/4/11]
My name is Brendan Hughes and I would like to write in support of the DTPC's request for OHV grant funds for Education and Safety. I have visited the Desert Tortoise Natural Area and have been enlightened by the people who staff the visitor's center there. This grant request will tailor educational goals toward OHV users, who can have heavy impacts on desert tortoises and their habitat. Education is the key to protecting our special places and species in the long term. [Brendan Hughes - 3/25/11]
See attached comments. [ORV Watch Kern County - 3/21/11]
See attached comments. [Jill Bays - 3/9/11]