Inyo Supervisors move on ATV ordinance

By Deb Murphy

The Inyo County Board of Supervisors approved the ordinance designed to make damage to resources by motorized vehicles a misdemeanor, with a $500 price tag, as written, but not without discussion on stiffening the penalties. Final approval is scheduled for the board’s April 21 meeting.


The ordinance was pivotal in the board’s approval of the Adventure Trails Pilot Program in January and the timing is critical.

Assembly Bill 628 established the pilot project that sunsets January 2017. Full implementation with signage and educational programs will eat up roughly six months, giving the county only 18 months to see the results of a compromise that reduced the initial 70-plus routes to seven.

The ordinance states “no person shall operate…a motorized vehicle…in a manner likely to cause malicious or unnecessary damage to land, livestock, ranching operations, farming operations, cultural resources, natural resources, wildlife, wildlife habitat or vegetative resources.” Violation would be punishable “either by a fine of $500, imprisonment of up to six months, or both.”

The ordinance would apply to private lands as well as Los Angeles Department of Water and Power lands in the Owens Valley. LADWP has the final say on the project whose routes provide access to city property. Federally-owned property is already protected by federal laws with fines up to $5,000.

“If we really want to send a message, we need to make the fine higher or escalating with a hefty fee for the second offense,” said Supervisor Mark Tillemans. Citing his wish to protect the program, Tillemans argued that a second offense fine of $2,500 would make a stronger statement. “We have the opportunity to really educate the public that we mean business,” he said. “We’re giving access but stay on the roads.”

Inyo County Sheriff Bill Lutze agreed that escalating fines would be effective. “A sliding scale would be appropriate,” he said. He also noted that the court could impose the cost of restoration for damage done to county lands “that could amount to tens of thousands of dollars.”

“We have a good way to start here,” said Supervisor Rick Pucci in reference to the ordinance. “There will be always be goof balls, but others may just not be sure. This is all new. (The project) will work if people let it work.” One of Pucci’s concerns was ATVs ending up on non-roads unintentionally and being hit with a stiff fine. Lutze assured him that local law enforcement agencies would be able to determine the difference between a mistake and malicious damage. Officers from federal agencies cannot write citations on county ordinances.

To cover all the bases, Supervisor Don Totheroth suggested showing LADWP the ordinance as written. “If they insist (on stiffer fines or different wording), then we can re-do it.”

The final solution, moved by Supervisor Jeff Griffiths, was to vote to enact the existing ordinance at the April 21 meeting, but have revisions for higher and/or escalating fines prepared. The motion passed.

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20 Responses to Inyo Supervisors move on ATV ordinance

  1. biggame April 14, 2015 at 5:26 pm #

    complete contradiction. the goverment depends on the consumer culture. what happens when the consumer culture disappears? there is no money in conservation just as there is no money in goverment.

    • Badfinger39 April 15, 2015 at 8:23 pm #

      Without the consumer culture then all those gov’t Agency policing jobs and those Big Fat Pensions will dry up ☺

    • Jeremiah Joseph April 16, 2015 at 12:17 pm #

      There is a lot of ideas about how to transition from this consumer culture and steps we can take to get away from the “labor for income” “resource exploitation” “etc..” “etc…”, of course the narrow-minded will dismiss it with comments like “communism” or “socialism” but really its more like humanity emerging to figure out how to live within their means… humanity is very much in a adolescent/immature stage with unprecedented capabilities, thanks to science and technology… just think if the technological advances worked with us rather then against us…but that will never happen in this economic and political structure.

      The Gov’t depends on big business, and big business depends on the Gov’t… We the people are nowhere to be found in that relationship….

  2. Low-Inyo April 14, 2015 at 6:51 am #

    In aerial photos of the town I live in,you can see the damage these ORV riders do to a landscape…..pre trail system….and that damage you can see includes BLM closed areas to motorized traffic…..private property the riders get onto…and LADWP land..God bless our Inyo County Law Enforcement,but for them to think they could control the problems the ORV riders do is a pipe dream.

  3. wagonrd April 12, 2015 at 5:57 am #

    As I have previously posted: “Take your UTVs, ATVs, and Jeep Rubicons to Utah, Arizona, Nevada.” The citizenry and the cops are friendly to off roaders. The off road money is spent on road and trail improvements, the scenery is fabulous, and you can drive into any city or town on designated roads and get gas, food and lodging.

    • Charles O. Jones April 13, 2015 at 10:43 am #

      Apples and oranges.

      Utah – 2.9 million residents
      Arizona – 6.7 million residents
      Nevada – 2.8 million residents

      Those 3 states combined don’t even add up to one third of
      California’s 38.8 MILLION RESIDENTS

      Try adding that many people to any of the states you’ve listed and see how warm and fuzzy they become towards off road vehicles.

  4. Low-Inyo April 11, 2015 at 6:11 am #

    Badfinger….Hopefully,your being sarcastic……sad thing is,there are some….mainly living in the Conservative midwest,that DO think that way.Sitting back with their rifle in their laps and saying they’re coming to get them and control them and their lives.Saying the first step will be the breaking down of the doors at 3 A.M. in the raids to take away their guns.Then,without the guns to worry about, will come more methods of controlling the citizens.Taking away the land so they can’t enjoy that.Then come the taxes and other methods of controlling of the citizens.

  5. Badfinger39 April 10, 2015 at 1:33 pm #

    This is only the tip of the iceburg as Agenda21 becomes Law of the land, the Elites will have most of the population re located and confined into designated urban areas, where citizens can be easily controlled and Taxed, Fined, and Fee’d to death in their own designated “FEEMA DISTRICTS” so Americans can live out their productive lives in the confines of prison planet. 🙂

    • roger April 10, 2015 at 3:17 pm #

      Badfinger- Get ready- they are coming for your guns!

  6. MJA April 10, 2015 at 6:00 am #

    I think we should walk through Nature as softly as we can, and treat her with love and kindness as she is our own. =

  7. Jeremiah Joseph April 9, 2015 at 1:52 pm #

    It’s like the locals forgot they already had the freedom to do so… Kinda like the pins Y’all was wearing at the big meet in Independence.. how did it go? “I support outdoor access for all” ?? something like that, right?
    Anytime anyone wants to have a conversation about something important, we have to spend 80 % of our time sifting trough the misinformation, propaganda and disinformation that continues to paralyze real progress.
    Also it was very typical how all the local business owners that rise’d to the occasion to support it, because of the currency incentive it brings, no matter the environmental cost!
    This consumer culture has no respect for the before or after, and any personal value is dismissed as long as it feeds their pocket book right now.. and no economic entity is exempt from that!

  8. Steve April 9, 2015 at 7:21 am #

    This will be no good.

    Unless the fines can be accessed to anyone that runs over a bush. That should include people fishing and parking off road next to that great hole. Bird watchers pushing there way into a great shot of that rear bird. Horses that trample and eat the bushes. Hikers that clear a spot for the tent.

    The list will go on and on. The law will need refinement for sure.

  9. sean April 8, 2015 at 5:35 pm #

    What exactly does “in a manner likely to cause malicious or unnecessary damage to land” mean exactly? Does “land” include dirt roads? Is a violation driving down a muddy road and ruts are left behind you (aka Mud Whomping)? Is a violation doing a donut in some wide open area? Is having fun a violation? If you overshoot a turn and kill a sage brush are you going to get a criminal record since this can be a misdemeanor? What happens if a cow runs into the road and is killed? Cows are all over the Owens Valleys on back roads. Do you goto jail for six months because some spooked calf ran into the road in front of you?

    Will fines be used to supplement law enforcement budgets? Some cities down south have found that traffic enforcement is a way to “make a profit” and thus the cities want lots of motorcycle cops writing lots of tickets to generate revenue. Can this law be abused in a similar way to create revenue to pay for overtime pay for Deputies? Thus the more tickets written the more overtime can be given out. Deputies could become incentivised to write more tickets. This has been seen on BLM lands in the other parts of the state.

    This smells like a general intent law when it really should be a specific intent law to prevent overly aggressive enforcement actions and or abuses.

    • Trouble April 9, 2015 at 4:17 am #

      Sean, bet my mother-in-law could answer that!

    • Upthecreek April 9, 2015 at 12:26 pm #

      “Can this law be abused in a similar way to create revenue to pay for overtime pay for Deputies? Thus the more tickets written the more overtime can be given out. Deputies could become incentivised to write more tickets. This has been seen on BLM lands in the other parts of the state.”

      Most likely will also fatten up their Public Pension accounts.


    • nice April 10, 2015 at 8:45 am #

      Yes, doing a donut in wide open spaces definitely fits in the definition of malicious destruction. That is in fact the very mentality that caused everyone to protest the project in the first place. ATV enthusiasts are like “we aren’t a bunch of yahoos! it’s the ignorant city folks that ruin all the fun! we just want the freedom to spin donuts all over the place!” Is it possible to have fun just going down the infinite dirt roads in the eastside, or is it required for you to tear up all the vegetation to have a good time?


    • Doug April 13, 2015 at 6:30 am #

      there has been ZERO success at reining in the destruction done by off-roaders anywhere in the desert! even with the tough wording in this proposed law, there is only a slim chance that law officers will witness errant behavior…which is what is required in order to write a ticket. business as usual and now another beautiful area is open to wholesale destruction so a few bored kids can have a fun afternoon.

  10. Trouble April 8, 2015 at 11:53 am #

    Nice, now can we ride?

    • Low-Inyo April 8, 2015 at 2:14 pm #

      Trouble;Nope….not yet……Think there will be some more environmental groups lining up to stall this one for a few more months,if not years.

    • Charles O. Jones April 8, 2015 at 6:53 pm #

      Nor until you finish your dinner, Trouble.


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