Cynthia Kienitz’s explanation for her attraction to the Amagosa Basin probably rang true to
many Inyo residents. An interior designer, she moved from Chicago to Las Vegas and then
settled in Tecopa. Her reaction to Amagosa: “I thought I went to heaven.”
Kienitz was before the Inyo Board of Supervisors asking that segments, totaling just over four
miles, of a desert highway, be considered for combined use—specifically side-by-side Off-
Highway Vehicles. Her business, Cynthia’s Safaris, run out of her B&;B in Tecopa, provides tours of the Amagosa Basin.
She started her presentation with her background: an interior designer, she moved from
Chicago to Las Vegas, had enough of big city life and discovered Amagosa. She rented a cottage
and converted it to a successful B&B. Kienitz would hike with her visitors, then realized a more
practical way to provide a “total desert emersion” was to host tours of the area in OHVs. “It’s
unfair to think wilderness is only available to young, able-bodied hikers,” she said. There are
designated OHV trails, but, Kienitz said, they don’t connect.
One of Kienitz’ goals was to avoid what she dubbed the Wild-Wild-West Culture: crazy OHV
riders ripping through the delicate desert eco-system. Her goal was to create a culture of care
for the land and the history before the crazies discovered the Basin. As simple as this seems, it
isn’t. Kienitz’ routes did not strictly adhere to designated routes. In addition, not all Tecopa
residents agree with her approach.
Concerns expressed by locals and environmental groups included impacts on the quality of life
for residents and the environment. Tecopa resident Larry Levi was worried OHV use would
disturb the quiet of Tecopa, suggesting the OHVs could be trailered the 800-feet to designated
routes. He also criticized the Bureau of Land Management for lack of signage and maps
identifying OHV trails. The Southern Inyo Fire District also wanted included in any discussions of Kienitz’ proposed project.
Kienitz explained she had made an attempt to contact impacted parties but had gotten no
John Pinkney, Inyo’s deputy director of Public Works, asked the Board for direction in light of
the fact a California Environmental Quality Act analysis would be required. The Board
recommended Kienitz continue to contact and discuss the project with area residents and fire