County Approves Policy On Off-Highway Vehicle Crossings
By Mario Conde
The Imperial County Board of Supervisors approved a policy statement concerning Safe Off-Highway Vehicle Recreation Crossings.
The Board of Supervisors met this past Tuesday where the County adopted a policy statement declaring that while the County supports OHV recreation, such recreation must be safe and in compliance with all local, state and federal rules and regulations.
“While from time to time, the County is requested to participate in the development of new safe access points and methods of travels, the County must be mindful of its scarce financial resources and participate in projects that provide the maximum benefits to the residents of Imperial County. As such, any participation in OHV projects shall be brought up to the Board of Supervisors to weight cost and benefit of any such participation.” the policy states.
Imperial County is considered a haven for off-highway vehicle enthusiast with well over 150,000 acres of premier OHV recreation area including the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area Glamis, Plaster City, Superstition Mountain and Heber Dunes, Imperial County shares the Ocotillo Wells State Vehicular Recreation Area with the County of San Diego.
Glamis is the largest mass of sand dunes in California. This dune system extends for more than 40 miles along the eastern edge of the Imperial Valley agricultural region in a band averaging five miles in width. It is estimated that OHV recreation brings more than 500,000 visitors to Imperial County annually and more than $100 million of positive economic impact.
In an effort to manage OHV recreation in the County, our Sheriff’s department annually invests significant resources and staff including a full-time sergeant, a senior deputy, two deputies and an office assistant. During peak riding season three-day weekends, more than 360 sheriff Deputy man-hours are devoted to OHV recreation.
The Sheriff also has 12 four-wheel drive trucks, six quads and three sand rails to assist with the OHV enforcement, as well as a dedicated mobile command center.
“Notwithstanding the County’s commitment to OHV recreation, from time to time, the County is asked to participate financially and otherwise in the development, improvement or expansion of OHV recreation areas,” County CEO Ralph Cordova told the Board.
Nicole Nicholas Gilles, Executive Director of the American Sand Association, spoke to the Board and proposed the restoration of public access between the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area and the eastern half of the Northern and Eastern Colorado Desert across the Union Pacific Railroad line, the American Sand Association proposed a crossing project in conjunction with planned improvements to the UPRR Right-of-Way at California Highway 78.
The ASA asked the County to require within the scope of the Right-of-Way project to utilize the improvements constructed at Highway 78 to provide for a safe, legal, at-grade crossing for Off Highway Vehicles upon conclusion of the project.
“Without legal access this boundary, the ASA considers this issue to be one public safety, and urges all interested parties to work together to provide a solution, and is ready and willing to assist in any manner possible,” Nicholas Gilles said.