newspaper article on Glamis and lawsuit


Well-Known Member
Apr 1, 2001
RDC Crypto
Off-roading groups sue for access to dunes

By Steve La Rue
STAFF WRITER and By H.G. Meyer

June 30, 2001

Three groups are suing the federal government to reverse the closure last October of 49,000 acres of the Algodones sand dunes in Imperial County to protect an endangered plant from off-road recreational vehicles.

The groups hope the new Republican administration will be more open to their views than the Clinton administration was.

"The off-roading groups are cautiously optimistic that we have the president and secretary of the interior we have," said Mark Harms, of the American Sand Association.

The association is one of the three groups attempting to halt the dune closure by suing the Bureau of Land Management and new Interior Secretary Gale Norton. Also suing in federal court in San Diego are the California Off-Road Vehicle Association and the American Motorcycle Association.

"The granolas are having a fit," Escondido off-roader Frankie Flores, 59, wrote on the Sand Association's Internet site, apparently referring to environmentalists. "I am having a hard time resisting the temptation to go berserk with pride!"

Off-road enthusiasts are protesting another closure announced by the BLM this month. Beginning Jan. 1, about 10 miles of rural Painted Gorge Road, just north of the western Imperial Valley town of Ocotillo, will be closed through June.

"It is used a lot by people in jeeps and on motorcycles. It is a very popular, scenic area," said Justin Cole, a board member of the San Diego Off-Road Coalition.

The BLM negotiated both closures under the Clinton administration to help settle a March 2000 lawsuit against the BLM by the Tucson-based Center for Biological Diversity.

The environmental group argued that the BLM was ignoring 24 threatened and endangered desert species in its management of 10.5 million acres of California desert, partly by allowing off-road vehicles to damage species' habitats.

Closing 49,000 acres of the Algodones Dunes was done to protect the Peirson's milkvetch, a threatened, purple-flowering plant. Off-road vehicles still have access to about 70,000 acres of the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreational Area.

Female Peninsular bighorn sheep retreat into the Coyote Mountains and bear their calves near Painted Gorge Road. They are so sensitive to noise and human activity that the environmental group insisted, and the BLM agreed, to close the road during this period each year to avoid deaths among the sheep and their lambs.

Peninsular bighorns are classified as endangered by the federal government, and about 410 of them survive in Southern California mountains.

"We have scientific evidence that this area is critical for bighorn lambing," said Mark Jorgensen, a park ranger at nearby Anza-Borrego Desert State Park.

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