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Perception of Off-Roaders & Ocotillo Wells CleanUp

KTM_rad

Well-Known Member
A View from the Inside
by John Ruddley
State Park Ranger
Ocotillo Wells State Vehicular Recreation Area

October 2001


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The quiet enveloped me when I exited my vehicle. It was an extraordinary morning because there were no jet contrails angling out of the western sky and there was no sound of aircraft. Period. Tuesday morning was poignantly beautiful. It was the kind of ordinary desert morning where, save for a few clouds brushed onto a powder blue sky, all that occupied that infinite canvas was a pale moon suspended over the peaks of the Peninsular Range. Coyote seemed particularly non-chalant in his walk away from the approach of my patrol vehicle. Jackrabbit floated through his leaps and bounds. The boundless views of mudhills and badlands skyline and distant ridges and mountains were clear and sharp.
I presume many of you realize you have experienced such a morning, except perhaps for the absolute silence, in this great desert region so close to home. Many of you may not realize this scene or perceive it because your desire to be here is driven by a narrower vision of off-roading and having fun. Just the same, most of you have experienced this freedom of the desert. It is not the freedom experienced by past generations nor will it be that of future generations. It is that of the here and now. Don't "wane reminiscent" but do hold the good times dear. As with freedom on a much grander scale, it comes at a price. It demands responsibility, understanding that the actions of one person or group may result in consequences for the entire off-road community. It warrants vigilance and responsible and thoughtful participation because you, in part, may be culpable for those consequences if you turn a blind or ignorant eye.
Know that there are people that are perceived to be part of the off-road community simply because they leave the pavement behind when they reach the desert. Some of them are irresponsible and thoughtless in their actions. They are in it for themselves, possibly out of ignorance but likely out of selfishness. Either they fail to consider the broader-ranging consequences of their actions or they simply do not care. They are robbing all of us, albeit slowly, of the freedom of the desert. I know some of you might unwittingly take the desert and off-roading for granted, perhaps even seeing the two as an inalienable right. How many off-roaders do see things that way? I imagine some off-roaders can't possibly appreciate what they have here simply because they have no idea of how limited and restricted off-roading is in other parts of our great nation. What we have here in SoCal is pretty incredible! Make no mistake about it. Without the vigilance of responsible and devoted off-roaders, and without responsible and thoughtful off-roading, that "right" will slowly but surely erode away. It will be future generations' loss with a finger pointing back in our direction.
Know that there is a small fraction of the off-road community, dedicated and devout off-roaders, that volunteer, proportionally, a tremendous share of their time and energy in furthering the cause of off-roading and in protecting its future. Share the load. Become involved. Participate in clubs and organizations that further the causes of off-roading. Without an understanding of the government bodies, groups and processes that ultimately control off-roading locally and nationwide, how can you possibly understand any of the undercurrents in the controlling forces? The above entities will help you in this endeavor. Get to know at least the basics and spread the word. Become enlightened as to what off-roading really is. Be vigilant to both internal and external threats to off-roading and the freedom of the desert. Give something back to off-roading. Give something back to the desert you know and love.
All right. Enough. The way I see it, you come out to Ocotillo Wells or anywhere else in the desert for a day or a weekend to escape. You have to understand though that your form of recreation/sport and relaxation is threatened. Yes, there will always be environmental issues and people on the other side of the fence [I wish there was not a fence] but remember that the Off Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Division of the California State Park System is solidly on your side and that it does not have a fence bordering it, it stands on the open ground guided by the mandates of the Chappie/Z'berg legislation. What about people that are, in essence, you?
Anybody who deliberately drives off the pavement in a motor vehicle, street or off-road licensed, is an off-roader in the loosest sense of the word, particularly if they are on Public Lands. That counts. We all have experienced the vehicle speeding through a congested area or spinning doughnuts and throwing up clouds of dust in our faces and campsites. We have seen the kids and their asinine beer parties. We have seen burning pallets on routes of travel or popular sand dune areas. We have experienced the loud party that sets up within easy earshot. We have seen the obviously drunk driver and the crazy drivers that take over an area. We all have seen the filth left behind. The vandalism! The inappropriate gunfire! The burned trucks and cars! And what happens at Glamis is outrageous and an affront to any responsible American! Well it is time for responsible off-roaders to make a stand because you have seen the enemy and it is YOU!
Yes. As employees at Ocotillo Wells SVRA it is our job to deal with these things on so many different levels. The fact remains that all of the above are no longer isolated occurrences. The fact remains that it is not practical or possible to differentiate between the responsible and the irresponsible when it comes to statistics and newspaper articles. We, as employees, know the difference but the fact remains that these things happen in areas dedicated to off-roading. Off-roading is under siege! All the good that the off-road community does, all the responsible off-road activities and recreation that takes place is colored darkly by the actions of a minority of "off-roaders". I know that a lot of you are fed up with what is happening on the Public Lands that you so enjoy, the lands that you are so concerned about being closed.
Here is a partial answer. We all are familiar with the Neighborhood Watch program in various communities. That is what we need on our Public Lands, whether they are in Ocotillo Wells SVRA, Glamis or just wide-open desert. The stewards of off-road lands are not and cannot possibly be omnipresent. We need as many eyes and ears as possible. If you see something that you believe is illegal or blatantly inappropriate and if you can get to a telephone, report it. For the general Ocotillo Wells area, 1-800-452-2051 will put you directly in touch with our Imperial County Sheriff Radio Dispatcher, 24 hours a day. Being awakened out of a fitful sleep is part of our job. Believe me, we want to know if something is going on. License plates, vehicle descriptions and descriptions of suspects can be extremely helpful. Don't put yourself in the line of fire so to speak. Anonymity is not a problem. This season we hope to institute an amateur radio reporting system. If you are a radio operator off-roader and want further details, please call our office at 760-767-5391.
We want and need a pro-active off-road community. Come to think of it, you need it, too. We are one. Get involved!
Oh! By the way, welcome back to the desert! Let's make a difference.

Annual Desert Cleanup
Volunteer a morning to clean up a small piece of the desert that someone has fouled.
Saturday, November 3 is the Annual Desert Cleanup at Ocotillo Wells. For your AM efforts we will feed you a pretty tasty PM BBQ on the house. The afternoon BBQ will give us an opportunity to personally thank many individuals and organizations that have volunteered countless hours over the years in the support of off-roading. This will be an opportunity to meet some dedicated members of the off-road community, to thank them for their efforts in preserving your priviledge to off-road and to learn more about the "inner sanctum" of off-road politics and the OHV program.
Meet at the Ocotillo Wells Ranger Station at 7:30 AM. We'll provide some tasty morning treats during the Cleanup signup. Bring gloves and personal water. We provide drinks, too. The BBQ begins at 12:30. It will be at poolside at Mobiland RV Park. We will do our best to satisfy you. If you have any questions or reservations about participating please call us at 760-767-5391. Thanks!!



Randy
CORVA Field Rep - So. Cal.
AMA, BRC, SDORC
 

BradM

Well-Known Member
I have not previously had a great deal of personal contact with state park rangers and BLM officers but it is refreshing to read that from his perspective. This come from a man who genuinely wants to see the access to public lands for OHV protected. Obviously, that protects his job too but even if the parks were closed, they would still have rangers to enforce the closures. I think his point of view is sincere and I for one appreciate it.

No one wants to be the fink who runs to the ranger to report someone who is out of line but in all honesty, that is what we all need to be doing for the good of the sport. We, as off roaders, can not stand by passively and let the small percentage of rowdy, out of line, misfits give the environmentalists and the beaurocrats more reasons to close public land. We must be proactive. That means writing letters, attending meetings, donating money to fight legal battles, and more. It also means that when we are out in the desert we must help the rangers and BLM officers protect the land from abuse by pointing out the obvious offenders.

The other discouraging thing is that this post only received 7 previous views. That defines apathy in the off road community.



"The only source of knowledge is experience." - Albert Einstein
 

sirhk100

Well-Known Member
Will anyone from this page be there for that cleanup? I'm going out there this weekend and will try my hardest to get out there at least for next Sat. morning. Ocotillo Wells is where I off road 95% of the time and I have participated in many cleanups out there. I promised my father I would help him out around the house next Sat. but hopefully I can get him to agree that the desert clean up is more important. I'll try my hardest to attend this cleanup, how many of you will?

BTW, I didn't go to the Slash X/OCD cleanup because I was participating in a club clean up at Ocotillo wells last sat too.

'99YZ400,
'92 Ford Exploder lifted work in progress,
lifted golf cart
 

Paige

Well-Known Member
I didn't know about a clean up out there - Isn't ASA having a poker run out there this weekend? Jim from ASA stopped by my office yesterday - and that is where he said he was headed - i could be mistaken though.

I think that its great that you were at another clean up and thanks for being an active part of the OHV community!

<font color=yellow>Paige<font color=yellow>
www.cordr.com</A>
 

sirhk100

Well-Known Member
I didn't realize that the ASA was really into events at Ocotillo Wells. I'm kinda like I think a majority of us are. I pay attention to the stuff happening in my favorite spot and the couple groups I'm affiliated with or that do a lot in my area. I think a lot of recreational off roaders are like that. People that only go to Glamis tend to be blind to what's going on at Ocotillo or Barstow. If SoCal offroaders united that would be amazing but also a VERY FORCEFULL group to get things done!! I don't have any idea how to do that though. I go to SDORC meetings when I can and attend as many cleanups and other misc. events as I can. Me being on this board has opened my eyes greatly to issues!!! I think a lot of the Ocotillo recreation people are really blind to what's really going on!!! The reason I say this is cause Ocotillo Wells hasn't had a real threat of closure yet. We hear stuff about other areas but don't have first hand knowledge of it. I honestly think that the people that do regularly go to Ocotillo are the type that would be active. I say this cause it's always a friendly atmosphere out there unlike Glamis and it's mostly a family scene. Maybe this would be a good place to try and corral supportors for our cause as SOCAL deserts from a WHOLE standpoint.

Do you understand what I"m saying or does this not make sense? I've never even been to Barstow/Stoddard Valley area. I go to Johnson Valley about twice a year and before stumbling upon this site I didn't know it was threatened.

Khris

'99YZ400,
'92 Ford Exploder lifted work in progress,
lifted golf cart
 

Paige

Well-Known Member
ASA is starting to branch out and get involved in areas beyond glamis. They are making a concerted effort to get people to meetings for every type of desert issue, so slowly they are expanding their presence - but they are not impacted directly by a stoddard/johnson closure, however they have started to take an interest in all the management plans. At the last DAC meeting all you saw was a sea of ASA shirts - pretty cool site actually, you felt proud and boy off-roaders aren't quite at those meetings either - hopefully one day all you will see is a sea of desert racing shirts.

Hopefully this Monday will solve some of the problems with Socal off-road interests being on the same page. We have a huge OHV leadership meeting taking place. Keep your fingers crossed that when we are done - things will have a good direction...again herding cats so keep those fingers crossed ;~>

<font color=yellow>Paige<font color=yellow>
www.cordr.com</A>
 

sirhk100

Well-Known Member
I'm bummed cause I spilled some salsa on my ASA shirt last night so I'll have to pick up another one at Thanksgiving.

Paige,
It seems like you can go to Glamis any weekend and see an ASA booth or at least easily find their camp sport. They tend to have tons of events, meetings, and cleanups. Ocotillo Wells has a couple groups that have monthly meetings and multiple cleanups like Los Pretots. Like said previously, I'm really new to you're guys' scene. Why do you only have an annual cleanup instead of more? Is it lack of support or just that everyone has busy lives and doesn't have the time to organize more? (which is understandable so don't take offense to that) Almost once a month I have the option of going to a cleanup or at least a meeting for events supporting Ocotillo's SVRA. It seems to me that I've only heard about the OCD event last weekend from you guys and some government meetings (that I can't attend due to work responsabilities and the locations they are held at) Basically what I'm saying is, is there a regular schedule of meetings and events that those with the opportunity to attend can get to?

'99YZ400,
'92 Ford Exploder lifted work in progress,
lifted golf cart
 

Paige

Well-Known Member
yeah fortunaetly ASA has a tremendous volunteer base which enables them to hold several clean-ups. We hold ours annualy and the Jack Waldron Clean-up is coming up in march - in the same area. The race course area isn't that bad and after most races folks sweep the course for any major infractions. So we go and clean a couple times a year to keep the local trash down really. Plus it takes a bit of planning to organize these things - so for now it seems sufficient.

We are working on getting out own meetings together - but there are DAC meetings every few months with the BLM, the other ones are during the day and some in the evenings/

As our web-site gets finished - we'll be providing more information on events and meetings - but it all takes time, so we do what we can with the time we have available - you know?

<font color=yellow>Paige<font color=yellow>
www.cordr.com</A>
 
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