Letter to the editor: too much off-road motorcycling

motorcycleDear Sierra Wave:
There are a lot of citizens in Inyo County concerned about the increase of off-road motorcycle activity here.
We’re not talking about those folks enjoying the vast array of dirt roads in the desert. I have friends who ride and they are respectful, courteous and responsible drivers.
I am speaking of the younger ones who have taken to putting in their own single tracks across the desert, creating ruts, flattening bushes, and, now, in spring, running over precious wildflower seedlings.
And, then, there are the ones who have taken to riding the desert hiking trails, where they absolutely don’t belong.
Here in Wilkerson, they’re thrashing the trail that leads out of Rawson Creek into Coyote. These trails are not for motorized vehicles.
When the off-road ATV craze began in Inyo County in earnest a number of years ago, I had some close calls with my dog, who almost got hit while we were out hiking the trails. I’d never seen motorcycles on these trails before and it was scary for me and my dog.
Since any one area can be a combination of BLM, Forest Service and DWP, it’s hard to regulate all this disruptive activity.
And, when BLM and Forest Service do put signs up, they’re sometimes pulled up as quickly as they’re put in. It’s very discouraging.
Yes, this land is here for all to use. That is true. However, when I hike through the wild spaces, I don’t uproot or run over plants, create trenches or disrupt the solitude with loud engine noises and exhaust fumes.
We have such an abundance of dirt roads here that it’s so unnecessary for these kids to be thrashing through the wild places.
I know it’s more fun and exciting than sticking to the dirt roads for these young kids, but we don’t live in a vacuum! They need to learn that.
We are all on this spinning globe together; humans, animals, plants, rocks, oceans, etc., and we need to be responsible to the needs of all, not just ourselves.
It starts with the parents, teaching responsibility to and love for the earth and then it moves out from there.
All you parents with motorcycle kids, please, please, please teach them to repsect others and the earth and stick to the roads!
We all have to live here in the beautiful Eastern Sierra together!
Thank you.
Sincerely,
Marianne Vaughn
Bishop
P.S. And if any of you riders out there are adults thrashing the desert, shame on you. You should know better.
43 Comments
Newest
Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Trouble
Trouble
8 years ago

Marianne- it’s my opinion that news articles and lectures, just like this one, are the reasons our BLM and Forestry folks use to shut us out of our public lands.

Marianne Brettell-Vaughn
Marianne Brettell-Vaughn
8 years ago

Howdy folks!!!! I’m the gal who started this whole thing! Thanks for all your comments! They were good,some were a bit uninformed. In my letter,you might have missed the fact that I have friends who are riders too. Good,respectful riders who stay on the dirtroads; good people! I have an… Read more »

Mammoth Motorcycle Club
Mammoth Motorcycle Club
8 years ago

Wow. Just…. Wow.
There’s so much distortion and lop-sided philosophy in your follow-up I wouldn’t (can’t) know where to begin… Just a sad sign of the times I guess.

Anyways, I hear Friends of the Inyo is hiring for Executive Director, you’d be a perfect match! Best of luck Marianne.

Trouble
Trouble
8 years ago

Thank you Able Body. there are fewer roads open now then ever. Don’t make it out like people are still running around out of control anymore.

wagonrd
wagonrd
8 years ago

These arguments have been going on for 60 years, and the off-roaders have lost every one. The conservationists will be satisfied only when it becomes a felony to drive a vehicle off the pavement. That’s California! Many of we mountainbikers and ATV rider take out vacations in Utah where the… Read more »

Happy Gilmore
Happy Gilmore
8 years ago

@ able body: There is a public input process before routes are closed. The BLM and FS are REQUIRED to do environmental analysis, and engage/inform the public before ANY decision is made. There is no “random indiscriminate agenda.” Everything is thoroughly disclosed in a public process. You just need to… Read more »

able body
able body
8 years ago
Reply to  Happy Gilmore

@ happy gilmore, BTW I am involved in the process and have attended several meetings. But I still find roads that are being closed that have never been discussed. Some groups are taking it among themselves to close off roads with wooden barracades, moving boulders to block roads and then… Read more »

able body
able body
8 years ago

There are bad apples in all groups, rock climbers and hikers included. As a seriously dedicated OHV operator based out of Bishop, I have always stayed on existing roads, stopped my quad or rhino as I approach people on horseback or walking dogs, and been as polite to others as… Read more »

Trouble
Trouble
8 years ago

I see more signs than trash or crushed wild flower seeds. Give me a break! How about a sign that says ” land of the free”.

Joe
Joe
8 years ago

Continuing with example by “roger”, since we all own the library, does an individual have the right to come and be disruptive to other users by talking loudly inside the library? Technically not breaking the law. The definition of destroy and to what extent leaves a huge grey area. Unfortunately… Read more »

roger
roger
8 years ago

example:
we all own the library, but that doesn’t give one person the right to burn it down!
the use of the land is like that, you have the right to use it, but not destroy all the things in it that others enjoy.

Roger Rilling
Roger Rilling
8 years ago
Reply to  roger

Roger- I totally agree with and love your Library analogy. I would like to take it

further. Off roaders are like the library users who “dog ear”, or spill food on, the

books they check out. If questioned, they would probably respond with, “it’s still the

same book”.

sugar magnolia
sugar magnolia
8 years ago
Reply to  Roger Rilling

I would change that to rip out a page or two…instead of just dog ear a page. I’m not against dirt bikers…but they impact other’s ability to use the same area for recreation. therefore, there must be limits as to where they can recreate. That’s just common sense. They should… Read more »

Mammoth Motorcycle Club
Mammoth Motorcycle Club
8 years ago
Reply to  Roger Rilling

Yes, I like your analogy too, and I will add too it! Your local environmentalist group (“Friends of the Inyo,” Sierra Club, etc) has somehow taken possession of the keys to the public library. They’ve made illegal copies of the key and are passing it out to all of their… Read more »

Wayne Deja
Wayne Deja
8 years ago

MMC….If I were to go into the local library,and instead of choosing to check-out and enjoy the books they have there,what I did was knock over the counters,and when the books were scattered on the groundstart kicking and destroying them….then when the damage is done just walk out the door,I’d… Read more »

SB
SB
8 years ago

Mammoth Motorcycle Club – You nailed it.

MJA
MJA
8 years ago

Burning gas sucks! =

Michael Prather
Michael Prather
8 years ago

Thank you for the well-written letter Marianne. It speaks for many of us in our valley. The ATV evolution has created more damage in our Lone Pine area – Alabama Hills, along the Lower Owens River, out on Owens Lake. This behavior is a blight on all of the many… Read more »

Wayne Deja
Wayne Deja
8 years ago

Mike….very true…..When entering the Alabama Hills area on Movie Road,along with the slogan “Don’t crush the brush”,they should add the words “and next time you visit,please bring a couple large black trash bags and help to clean up the messes others have left “….

Mammoth Motorcycle Club
Mammoth Motorcycle Club
8 years ago

Yeah sure… “Dont Crush the Brush” huh? So does that include your “friends” of the Inyo crowd, ripping out sagebrush and cutting down trees to close trails? Or does the ends justify the means in that situation? It’s a two way street, Michael, and it might be wise to practice… Read more »

Wayne Deja
Wayne Deja
8 years ago

Mammoth Motorcycle Club…..Living up there in Mammoth,you know NOTHING about the Alabama Hills and the destruction that takes place there,thanks,in main part, to the “off-roaders”….if you do ,may I suggest the next time you visit the area,be sure to bring those big black trash bags I mentioned earlier,and help us… Read more »

Mammoth Motorcycle Club
Mammoth Motorcycle Club
8 years ago
Reply to  Wayne Deja

Yes Wane you’re probably right, and living in your Lone Pine bubble you would know very little about the devastation that Mr. Prather and his FOI associates have imposed upon our roads and trails in the Mammoth Lakes area. If you did, you’d know that they’ve accomplished much more than… Read more »

Wayne Deja
Wayne Deja
8 years ago

MMC…..Here is my suggestion to you and your group of “guy-riders”…..if you don’t like the FOI and their efforts to curb the total destruction of our wilderness areas up here NOT MEANT for motorized traffic,and certainly not meant for the more than the 50 % of those types that have… Read more »

salblaster
salblaster
8 years ago

Dirt bike riders are part of the public too and have a right to use public land for recreation just like everyone else. The idea that public land should be restricted from anybody seems very selfish and elitist. And wayne quit making up horror stories about lawless bikergangs roaming the… Read more »

Desert Tortoise
Desert Tortoise
8 years ago
Reply to  salblaster

I too ride a bit off road, but your position is not one I can support. It does not seem to recognize that your indiscriminate use of public lands by motorized vehicles can deprive others of the enjoyment of that same land, and that unregulated use of the land by… Read more »

Wayne Deja
Wayne Deja
8 years ago
Reply to  salblaster

salblaster…..Not saying I was,or anyone else was or has been terrorized by a “biker gang” while camping in a campsite.The group I was talking of,they weren’t a “biker gang”……They were a bunch of drunken,unruly off- roaders thinking when their “guy group” arrived they could more or less do as they… Read more »

SB
SB
8 years ago
Reply to  Wayne Deja

Wayne – there is a big difference between feeling threatened and being threatened. Of course it’s better to be judged by twelve then carried by six, but before you take action with your resources sideline your emotions/feelings.

Wayne Deja
Wayne Deja
8 years ago
Reply to  SB

SB……The difference between feeling threatened and being threatened is one witness..or no witnesses’ from being the same.

SB
SB
8 years ago
Reply to  Wayne Deja

Or a video

Ickity
Ickity
8 years ago

I supposed it is a matter of perspective. I have been bullied by people on horseback and there is not one single person to complain to about that. Not once, but twice, and the last time their animal nearly bit be. I ended up on the ground about 6” down… Read more »

Desert Tortoise
Desert Tortoise
8 years ago
Reply to  Ickity

“Bullied” or did you do or say (shout) something to scare the horse? Just asking ……

Ken Warner
Ken Warner
8 years ago
Reply to  Ickity

Six inches off the trail — good grief. If you see a horse and rider coming down the trail, step aside and let them pass. Say howdy to the rider then continue on your way. It’s really simple if you don’t try to make an issue of it.

sugar magnolia
sugar magnolia
8 years ago
Reply to  Ickity

my ‘dislike’ of the dirt bikers has nothing to do with their behavior….I don’t think they’re bad people or ‘bullies’. It’s the nature of their activity that creates the problem. They rut the trails, my main complaint, making them unuseable for others. THe other issue is noise. A person with… Read more »

sugarmagnolia
sugarmagnolia
8 years ago

Amen Sista!

Trouble
Trouble
8 years ago

Mother knows best.

Wayne Deja
Wayne Deja
8 years ago

Marianne Vaughn….I agree with just about everything you say….I used to live in the Antelope Valley back in the 70’s and 80’s when the dirt-bike craze was first starting…very little regulation on what they could do and where they could be going back then…and what that did was all but… Read more »

SB
SB
8 years ago
Reply to  Wayne Deja

Wayne you are wrong to blame the demise of the Desert Tortoise on off roaders. Please read the invasion of the Tortoise Snatchers http://www.fws.gov/nevada/desert_tortoise/documents/dtro_gov/20110813_BRC_Raven_DMG.pdf Much of your rant about OHV users is true, but you are wrong when it comes to the Desert Tortoise. I see the number one problem… Read more »

Wayne Deja
Wayne Deja
8 years ago
Reply to  SB

SB….Your link there proves my point….If your saying it’s the ravens that were killing off these full grown and mature desert tortoises’,not true…..it says the ravens get the little babies before their shells are hardened……AND the article you mention lists off-roaders as a primary reason for the tortoises’ decline.On one… Read more »

Desert Tortoise
Desert Tortoise
8 years ago
Reply to  Wayne Deja

Send them south to Ridgecrest. They welcome that business openly. With the sharp decline in military travel they are keeping the motels in business. A trail system can work but it requires the cooperation of local of a local off road organization like Friends of Jawbone, and consistent enforcement from… Read more »

Wayne Deja
Wayne Deja
8 years ago
Reply to  Wayne Deja

Here’s a nice little story concerning this topic and comments left….on Sunday morning,I was awakened by loud dirt bikes speeding up and down my street….probably about 2 or 3 of them….about 20 minutes later while I was feeding the neighborhood cat,an ICSO squad car drove by,probably alerted to the early… Read more »

Ken Warner
Ken Warner
8 years ago

“…and we need to be responsible to the needs of all, not just ourselves.”

Ha! And remember — we want more tourists.

Nan Brettell
Nan Brettell
8 years ago
Reply to  Ken Warner

Unfortunately Ken, If there gets to be too many off road vehicles in the Eastern Sierra creating air and noise pollution, it will not make for a not-so-great outdoor experience for both tourists and locals.

Ken Warner
Ken Warner
8 years ago
Reply to  Nan Brettell

I’m well aware of that and if you look at my previous posts, you will see my view of tourism and the destruction tourist leave behind all up and down the East Side and how the people of both countries need to find alternatives to the current economy. I was… Read more »