BLM Land Closure-Randsburg Area

mike_hinson

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This was on the front page of the Bakersfield Californian this morning.

BLM bans off-roaders from area

By LINDA SAPPINGTON, Californian correspondent

Monday April 01, 2002, 10:25:06 PM


RIDGECREST -- The federal Bureau of Land Management issued an emergency closure order late Friday that bans all off-road vehicle use on more than 17,000 acres of the desert near Randsburg to protect the desert tortoise.

The order bans off-road motorcycles, four-wheel-drive trucks and other all-terrain vehicles from roughly 29 miles of desert roads. Off-roaders reacted with disdain to the order, which they say won't help increase the tortoise substantially but will limit the public's access to the high desert's beauty and recreational value.

The affected area is prime desert habitat for endangered desert tortoises and closure was necessary because some members of the off-highway vehicle community are driving on closed roads, said Hector Villalobos, manager of the Ridgecrest office of the BLM. He said some drivers were even crashing though or driving around bright orange netting that blocks access to the route.

"Recent surveys show that over 90 percent of the closed routes in the area of critical concern are being ridden regularly," stated Villalobos in the closure order.

"It's very frustrating," he said, adding that a handful of misusers jeopardize the routes for the majority of riders who stay on designated dirt routes.

The closed routes were clearly marked, Villalobos said. All access routes and closed routes are mapped in 11 different kiosks near entrances to the routes. On the trails, closed routes were indicated with a red marker and in some cases, hay bales and/or orange plastic netting.

The recently closed area includes some beautiful scenery and a colorful canyon of volcanic rock and ash, said Randsburg resident Mickey Goodin.

"What percentage of the population can enjoy it if you close the road?" asked Goodin, adding that the average person isn't fit enough to hike to many of the remote areas. "Who are they saving it for?"

Bakersfield resident Dick Taylor and his family have camped and explored in the area for years. He said he can't just take his mother for a 15-mile hike to see some beautiful spot, and he argued that closing the roads isn't the answer for the few who break the law. Instead, law enforcement needs to step up enforcement and and cite those who violate the law.

"We don't close a highway because some people speed or drink and drive," he said. He believes some of the environmental groups want to close access because "the average citizen isn't intelligent enough to be left to our own devices without somehow messing it up."

The closed area is part of a 129-mile network of multiple-use routes in the Western Rand Mountain area designated as an area of critical concern to protect desert tortoises.

The tortoise population is declining -- even in areas closed to vehicles for more than 15 years -- but it's because of a respiratory disease and predatory ravens, Taylor said.

"It's just a good excuse to close the road," said Randsburg resident Tim Powers, who rides dirt bikes in the area once or twice a week. "There should be a balance. We want it preserved and accessible."

"Unfortunately, one way or the other, everybody loses," Powers said.

The action was precipitated by a lawsuit filed against the BLM in March 2000 by the Center for Biological Diversity and two other environmental groups. The suit accused the BLM of not properly managing areas in the Californian Desert Conservation Area.

The BLM was able to act without public hearings because of laws that allow for such closures in situations it decides are needed to protect the environment.

Interim closures will not affect the remaining 100 miles of designated routes in the Rand Mountains Fremont Valley Management area nor other open off-highway vehicle areas such as Spangler Hills, Jawbone Canyon or Dove Springs.

Routes closed by the emergency order will be marked with red stakes and will remain closed at least until June 2003, pending completion of the West Mojave Plan, according to the BLM.

Documents and area maps are available at the BLM Ridgecrest Field Office, 300 S. Richmond Road.
 

Paige

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Apparently this is some sort of deal - the CBD filed an intent to sue (another one, on top of the initial lawsuit) over the entire RANDS area so they went in an settled for the area they shut down.

<font color=yellow>Paige<font color=yellow>
 

Wayne_Nosala

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Hey Gang
I have a transcript from the last friends of Jawbone meeting, Hector Villalobos
clarifies the Rand closures, he complains of abuses by off roaders not following
the rules
Paul Kober (CORVA) states "the rands have been a controversy. The area was open
to competition, then was closed and changed to limited routes. there has been a
lot of violations out there, mainly because the trails have not been maintained."

CBD has gone to court. BLM has petitioned the court for an extension of the dates.The court agreed. the center said OK, but close everything in the rands
west of R-43. the BLM agreed, Paul said the BLM should not close this area. He
feels the BLM did not maintain the trails.

Hector replies" the people are ignoring the rules made by the BLM, committing
arson, going off trails, etc, he does not feel that lack of trail maintenance is the problem

Paul Kober states he does not feel "land manegment" means " land closure"

I could go on, but my typing skills do not let me transcribe very quick from
this document

Anyway, I dont see anything that was said about tortoises in the meeting, there is already thousands of acres set aside for the tortoises in the area

Its sad to see that area closed, I am very farmiliar with it, Its very scenic to drive in

Wayne
 

martininsocal

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hey folks- if this about tortoises, then the area in question must be between 2000 and 3500 feet, have less than 20% slope(flat), be somewhat rock free, and have easy acces for the tortoises to move about. sounds like the rands to me! atleast that is what the biologist for the blm sayd anyway!!! threaten to sue and you can what you want!

martin

If your gonna go, go BIG
 

choppekx

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How come it is that everywhere we want to ride is a perfect habitat for the desert tortoise. The were saying the same thing about the dunes a few years back, and at one time were considering closing down a road between Yuma and Blythe because of the desert tortoise. The Dunes and the areas around them have a great degree of terrain difference's as well as I am sure those areas around Bakersfield, but all are a perfect habitat for the turtle. Species of plants and animals have come and gone and also evolved well before humans were around, and I am sure it will continue after humans die out.

Chris
 
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