BLM - Palm Springs South Coast Field Office
I'm writing these comments on some of the grant applications by the South Coast BLM. This field office recently published its draft RMP EIS that addressed travel management, which gives the opportunity to review the amount of OHV opportunity available in that district.
The application for the South Coast signing grant - Ground Ops indicates that the district has 356 miles of route available for OHV, the same amount stated in the RMP-EIS. However the mileage available for Green Sticker Vehicles ranges from only 28 miles in Alternative B to 14 miles in Alternatives C and D out of a total of 356 miles. Over 200 miles of inventoried route would be completely closed to public access. This is an almost complete closure of routes over a very large area. This will impose significant new restrictions on hunters and other users of green sticker registered vehicles. Perhaps this request would be better suited to a restoration grant than a ground ops grant
Apparently the signing project would involve mostly installing "closed to OHV" signs and kiosks. Because the field office covers such a large area one might assume that this project is not out of line but at nearly $140,000 but this seems like a high figure for installing signage even over a large area.
The application for the Willow Hole Fence seems quite excessive in its request for funding. I am not disputing the need for protection of this area as I have not visited it, but this request is for $553,000, a significant sum. There should be some very well documented need for a request of this magnitude. Post and cable fence is expensive and it provides more secure protection against intrusion that t-post and wire, but this application includes not only the fencing contract but multiple additional layers of cost that nearly double the cost of the project. For example there is an item for a civil engineer to oversee contact administration. Could this not be done by field office contract administration staff? Also the request includes not one but two law enforcement personnel. I have never seen this requested through a restoration grant, could that not be handled as part of regular patrols that are being done in the area? Additional supporting documentation should be carefully reviewed for appropriateness of this request.
I would also question the basis for the Big Morongo Planning grant. The application states that "The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Palm Springs-South Coast Field Office (PSSC FO) manages 1,500 miles of Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) routes on over 1.65 million acres." That is not the same mileage proposed in the RMP-EIS which is 365 miles. This application contains statements that indicate the PSSC FO supports OHV recreation through this grant request when it appears this is a closure and restoration planning project. That may be appropriate for this area, but the statements in the application are misleading.
This application should be reviewed very carefully for documentation that verifies the proportion of damage related to unauthorized OHV use as opposed to that from illegal dumping, shooting, and general public trespass that if often blamed on OHV users. It doesn't seem fair for OHV funds to be the primary source of funding for this project. [Bruce Whitcher, Central Coast Motorcycle Association, CORVA - 4/2/12]
BLM Palm Springs Law enforcement grant looks good to keep order around the OHV trail system.
Grant for Signing should be call Ground Operations. I like everything about this grant except what is left out. No where does it ask for money to dump trash cans or maintain restrooms along or at the ends of their OHV routes. To my knowledge, there are no trail heads or parking areas for the routes in their control. I would love to see a grant request for money to build and maintain an trailhead parking area for any of your routes, including the west end of the famous Bradshaw Trail.
Neco Signing is also a grant we can stand behind and again wonder where the request is for money to provide trash dumping, restroom maintenance and instalation and maintenance of OHV parking areas at trail heads.
Palm Springs South Coast Field Office Willow Hole Fence grant asks for $391k to remove and install 3.7 miles of fence. That just seems incredibly high.
The Big Morongo Planning grant asks for $122k to inventory all designated and undesignated routes; scope the damage caused by
unauthorized OHV use, and evaluate how past restoration efforts have held up in Morongo Canyon ACEC. This seems extremely high for what might amount to a few people walking and driving around for a few days and writing a report.
Palm Spring Jr. Ranger and outreach Programs look good, more programs like this are needed in California.
If your office is interested in improving its OHV areas with ideas about trailheads, parking and other facilities, please contact me, I would love to volunteer myself or get some others I know who are interested. [Ed Stovin, CORVA - 4/1/12]
Another issue that totally blows me away is that there is no Ground Operation. let me explain
G 11-01-13-G 01 NECO route signing
Because this plan has been completed some time ago, all route should have been signed by now. What is very frustrating with the entire grants of this office is that they have taken the approach of 11 different grants and you can not make heads and tales exactly how many trails are we talking about. Surely we are not dealing with 2915 miles of trails.
BLM needs to make a spread sheet exactly what our trails opportunities are and give a summary of what is roads, what are actually trails
The staff listed here is in excess with exceptions of those doing the work on the ground. A better over all picture of this field office total plan on signings. Splitting into 10 different grants is not the cool way to go.
G 11-01-13-G 02 South Coast Signing
Same concerns above. I have no problem with the staff on the ground, but all the other staffing is filling wages for existing personal.
Remember these are trails that this field office has been getting funding for year and years from OHV program, and to now come with all this excess staff just does not add to the OHV experience. The agency also has to work harder with the constituents in the south on trails that they want to sign or restore. They feel they have been left out.
I do not support this grant unless it is packaged as one Ground Operation grant with very specific map and trails to be signed.
G 11-01-13-G 04 Desert Tortoise Landscape Survey and Monitoring.
This grant should not even be in this field office. It is a State office grant, and nothing in this grants puts boots on the ground for trail maintenance. The field office has been doing monitoring for as long as I can remember and to now this? You have the Desert Managers Group that also deal with tortoise and has been funding all kinds of tortoise issues. This is nothing but duplication of work that has been done many time before.
I do not support this grant
G 11-01-13-G 05 Sonoran Desert Thorn Woodland Bird Monitoring in OHV Recreation areas
This grant is so broad by saying OHV recreation areas, Exactly what area are we talking about. What location and exactly how many trails are affected. Remember that there are no Open areas in this field office. This again is a state BLM office grant, should not even be in this batch of grants.
I do not support unless get better information.
G 11-01-13-LO 1 PS Law Enforcement
These Law enforcement officers are desperately needed, what I am surprised that at the $58,000 dollars for portable radios. I can remember some year ago that the OHV program funded radios at that time. What happened about all of these radios?
G 11-01-13-P 01 NRCS soil Survey for the Meccacopia SRMA
Here we are again, $228,300 for a survey that the BLM supposedly has been doing for years and now as asking for Ground Operation monies that are over subscribed by 5 million dollars and competing with projects that provide OHV opportunity not only in open areas but thousand of limited use trails.
This grant is completely out of line.
G 11--01-13-R 02 Big Morongo Planning
Title of this grant should state Restoration Planning, when you read title you realize later it is restoration.
G 11-01-13-R 03 Willow Hole Fence
3.7 miles of fencing for $391.000 is over the top. This office needs to talk with Barstow BLM office on how they do post and cable for 1/2 the cost.
In conclusion, it is sad that in time when we have $30.650 million in grants request and only $22.100 million to give out a field office comes in with $ 1.700.963 for almost 8% of OHV funding, for an area that has no open riding areas, and trails are roads? 50 Inches or less? Lot more information has to be put out for this grant. [Ed Waldheim - 3/26/12]