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 Home Press Releases Federal Agency Poised to Reopen Closed Glamis Land to OHVs


For Immediate Release
March 29, 2002

Contact: Bill Kresnak
Phone: (614) 856-1900
Fax: (614) 856-1920

Federal Agency Poised to Reopen Closed Glamis Land to OHVs

PICKERINGTON, Ohio -- The federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has proposed a plan to reopen more than 49,000 acres of southern California desert closed two years ago to off-highway vehicle use, the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) reports.

The action would partially reverse a closure enacted by the BLM in late 2000 that affected 49,305 acres in the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area, known to OHV enthusiasts as Glamis because of its proximity to that city in far southern California. The closure was part of an out-of-court settlement of a lawsuit filed by anti-access groups that alleged the BLM failed to properly consult with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service concerning the effects of the BLM-administered California Desert Conservation Area Plan on a number of threatened and endangered species.

On March 29, the BLM released a Draft Environmental Impact Statement and Draft Recreation Area Management Plan for the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area that would reopen about 16,000 acres of the Glamis area to unrestricted OHV use. In addition, more than 33,000 acres would be reopened to limited use, with a restriction on the number of riders allowed. A maximum of 525 vehicles would be allowed each day in that area for a year while the BLM monitors the impact on plants and animals there. Changes would then be made on OHV use of the parcel, if necessary.

"This proposed management plan is a significant development for all the OHV enthusiasts who ride at Glamis," said AMA Western States Representative Nick Haris. "Under the terms of the California Desert Conservation Area Plan, open motorized recreation was restricted to less than 2 percent of the California Desert. With this closure, even that tiny amount was in danger of disappearing."

The AMA encourages those interested in the future of motorized recreation in the desert to read the plan and comment on it. The BLM will hold six public hearings on the plan to gather comments. The hearings will be held from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. on:

  • April 9: City Council Chambers, 1275 Main St., El Centro, Calif.

  • April 11: The Grand, 4101 E. Willow St., Long Beach, Calif.

  • April 15: Phoenix College, 1202 W. Thomas Rd., Phoenix, Ariz.

  • April 18: Brawley City Council, 225 A St., Brawley, Calif.

  • April 23: Yuma Civic and Convention Center, 1440 W. Desert Hills Dr., Yuma, Ariz.

  • April 25: Marriott Mission Valley, 8757 Rio San Diego Dr., San Diego, Calif.

Reading copies are available at the BLM's El Centro Field Office, 1661 S. 4th St., El Centro, Calif., and at the California Desert District Office, 6221 Box Springs Blvd., Riverside, Calif. Reading copies are also available at selected libraries in cities where the public meetings will be held, and the documents can be found at the BLM's website at www.ca.blm.gov/elcentro.

Comments will be accepted through June 28. Written comments should be sent to the Bureau of Land Management, El Centro Field Office, Attn: Jim Komatinsky, 1661 S. 4th St., El Centro, CA 92243.

If approved, the plan could go into effect late this year.

Glamis is an extremely popular recreation area for motorcyclists, ATV riders, four-wheel-drive vehicle enthusiasts and others. The BLM reported that an estimated 108,000 people used the dunes during the President's Day weekend Feb. 16-17. The area is approximately 40 miles long, five miles wide, and has dunes that rise 300 feet above the valley floor.

In 2000, the BLM agreed to temporarily close 49,305 acres in the 150,000-acre Algodones Dunes area that includes Glamis in response to a lawsuit by anti-access groups. The groups that filed the suit alleged that the ban was needed to protect the Peirson's milk-vetch plant, a member of the bean and pea family. The plant is listed as "endangered" by the state, and as "threatened" by the federal government.

The anti-access groups made that allegation even though a BLM monitoring study showed that between 1977 and 1998, while OHV use was allowed, six plant species including the Peirson's milk-vetch increased in the dunes.

The closure meant that more than half of the land set aside for motorized recreation in the dunes was closed. Previously, a 32,240-acre parcel -- about 20 percent of the total -- was designated as the North Algodones Dunes Wilderness Area and closed to OHVs.

The BLM manages more than 9 million acres of the 25 million total acres in the California desert. The California Desert Conservation Area Plan, which went into effect in 1980, and the California Desert Protection Act, passed eight years later, resulted in severe closures and restrictions on motorized recreation in the desert. They left open travel on some existing roads and ways through the desert, but confined open riding to a handful of specifically designated "intensive-use" areas, including the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area.

The lawsuit, filed by the Center for Biological Diversity, the Sierra Club, and Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, not only shut down 49,000 acres to OHV use at Glamis, but also closed areas to campers and closed, or threatens to close, other recreational areas in the California desert.


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