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)
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,
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
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
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
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
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
Talk About This In Our Forums