Inyo Supervisors discuss Adventure Trails, again

By Deb Murphy

The Adventure Trails program allows off-road vehicles, not legal on surface streets, to use those streets to gain access to community services. It’s that simple but the hours of discussion before the Inyo Board of Supervisors probably exceeds the number of hours off-road enthusiasts have spent on the seven designated surface streets in the Owens Valley over the few years the program has been up and running.

And, those discussions started up again at Tuesday’s Board meeting. The item on the agenda was approval for a five-year extension, to be tacked onto current federal legislation. After two hours of public input, the Supervisors approved the extension.

The problem is simple: there isn’t really enough data available on the relative success of the program to make any valid determination about its future. Browns’ Town and Boulder Creek both have access to designated access roads and have seen the advantages. The other routes, reduced from an original 38 routes, don’t connect public lands to community services.

The other problem is off-highway vehicles are legal and there’s no way to determine which off-roaders are using the Adventure Trails systems.

Public comment was split between folks who support off-road activity and want the program expanded and those who consider motorized vehicles in the back country an anathema.

Some of the anti-off-roaders came armed with the assumption the County had invested $500,000 in the project. County Administrative Officer Clint Quilter ran through some of the costs. The environmental work was paid for from Green Sticker grants and state funding. Road department equipment that serves a dual-purpose was paid for with the same grant source and $159,000 in department funds. The $75,000 in staff time was covered by a combination of Green Sticker Local Transportation Commission funds.

During the public comment period, Dr. Thomas Boo added a new wrinkle to the conversation. “The County’s support of OHV activity is divisive. Let the program sunset; let OHVs come but don’t promote it.” Boo latched onto a simple truth: OHVs will be a part of the valley landscape with or without the Adventure Trails.

Julie Fough expressed her own issues with OHVs. She runs a small farm with rental cabins on Horseshoe Meadows Road west of Lone Pine and has had encounters with OHVs going around closed road gates and, basically, behaving badly. Her issue was enforcement of existing laws.

Sheriff Jeff Hollowell explained residents could contact the Sheriff’s Department and request patrols to catch offenders.

During the Board discussion, Supervisor Jeff Griffiths suggested an advisory ballot measure to gauge how the whole community feels about the Adventure Trails program. That got some traction.

Supervisor Matt Kingsley pointed out questionable activity by other recreational pursuits. “Rock climbers leave carabiners in boulders,” he said. “That’s illegal but we still support bouldering.”

The Supervisors also acknowledged there would be little economic impact with the small sample of Adventure Trail routes, but weren’t ready to expand the program.
The Board unanimously approved the extension, so the battle over OHVs will continue.

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BISHOP, Calif. – The Inyo National Forest and the Bureau of Land Management Bishop Field Office will hold an open house on Wednesday, Feb. 13, to gather public ideas for requesting off-highway vehicle grant funds.

The informal open house will run from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Forest Service/BLM office, 351 Pacu Lane, Bishop.

The agencies plan to request grant funds from the State of California Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Division (OHMVR) to enhance and manage motorized recreation in the area. Interested citizens are invited to drop in at any time during the open house and provide ideas for projects and opportunities that could be incorporated into the grants.

Representatives from the two agencies will be available to answer questions about the grant process and to receive input for developing the grants.

Preliminary grant applications will be submitted to the OHMVR Division by March 4. The public will then be able to comment on the preliminary applications from March 5 to May 6. Final applications must be submitted by June 3. For more information about the state grant process and requirements, visit the OHMVR Division website at www.ohv.parks.ca.gov.

For more information, to submit your ideas, or if you have special needs for accommodation to participate in this open house, please call BLM Natural Resources Specialist Sara Manley at (760) 872-5000 or email [email protected] or call Inyo National Forest District Recreation Staff Officer Tony Papa at (760) 873-2561 or email him at [email protected]

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David Dennison
David Dennison
3 years ago

People,let’s face it…..it’s ALL about the money….locals that are in favor of it,the reason not so much so they have extra places to ride,able to get into town using these “trail systems”….living here,we all know we can already do that without much of a problem from LE,if any at all….those… Read more »

Philip Anaya
Philip Anaya
3 years ago

Have to agree with Tinner that most folks especially local residents are respectful on the roads . However we have all been buzzed by fast flying folks who think they are on TV making a commercial or running the Mint 400 . Maybe there is something that can be done… Read more »

Charles O. Jones
Charles O. Jones
3 years ago
Reply to  Philip Anaya

Utah population: 3.1 million
California Population: 39.5 million

We’re always capable of learning from a neighbor. But I think our challenges and concerns here would be quite different if we were looking at a population that more closely compared to Utah.

Philip Anaya
Philip Anaya
3 years ago

Despite the fact that Manufacturers recommend NOT operating ATV’s, OHV’s on paved roads there are many States who ignore this fact permitting these vehicles on the roads. http://www.governing.com/topics/public-justice-safety/gov-roads-atvs-fatalities.html As you might know, Mr. Jones these vehicles have low pressure tires, high centers of gravity, they are capable of more than… Read more »

Charles O. Jones
Charles O. Jones
3 years ago
Reply to  Philip Anaya

As is often the case, I find myself agreeing with almost all of what you’ve said. Thanks Mr. Anaya.

philip anaya
philip anaya
3 years ago

Ms Kessler would probably say that we always need a good, a respectful dialog and the Sierra Wave provides this forum for us and to honor her memory. When facts presented are questionable, always call me out and when opinions differ, Mr Jones, you have just the education that I… Read more »

Tinner
Tinner
3 years ago

I have no idea what the solution is, I’m sure most OHV’s are respectful people that follow the rules and clean up after themselves, it’s the few that put all in a bad light. I think it comes down to the few feeling entitled to do whatever they want. I’ve… Read more »

Charles O. Jones
Charles O. Jones
3 years ago

I don’t mind sharing the trails with a few OHV’s. And I don’t mind if they access local towns by designated routes, as long as it’s done safely and respectfully. I do have a problem with the notion of attracting hordes of them to the valley in hopes of chasing… Read more »

Roger
Roger
3 years ago

Perhaps we should revisit liability issues with incouraging these activities. California news reports a $6.1 million dollar settlement to a motorcyclist who hit potholes and crashed, leaving him with serious brain injuries.
The article was posted February 08 2019
Roger

David Dennison
David Dennison
3 years ago
Reply to  Roger

And maybe revisit the issue of the unlicensed,uninsured early- teen SoCal ATV riders that were riding in a group on HWY395 outside of Lone Pine when this “trail system” first got started….

Mono Person
Mono Person
3 years ago

I am a trail runner and sometimes end up on roads with dirt bikes and other atv’s. The riders have always been respectful, slow down, give me a wave. As a “two footer”, I enjoy sharing the road!!

Steve
Steve
3 years ago

I live and play here using the original “Side by Side” a VW Baja Bug. I have been exploring the dirt roads since the 1970s. I have found wonderful places to camp and enjoy the back roads of Inyo Co. I always clean up after my self and pick up… Read more »