Week #5: OHV Coronavirus update

| Suzy Johnson | Access Issues

Well, here we are five weeks into the “shelter in place order” and most Californians are doing their best to follow the rules and help flatten the curve. The first few weeks were not that bad, we got a few projects done, binge watched our favorite shows, worked on our off-road vehicles, or just relaxed a little. But I see cracks beginning to develop in even the best of people; this home isolation is beginning to take its toll and cabin fever will be the new pandemic to sweep through our community. The off-road community is used to being outside, we enjoy all types of outdoor recreation, but not being able to spend time out on the trail with our off-road family has been difficult.

The lifting of the “shelter in place order” is on everyone’s mind. The economic cost of this shutdown will have a long term effect on our state’s economy and the longer it takes for the order to be lifted the longer it will take to recover from this crisis. The good news is that many states are beginning to talk about getting their people back to work; Texas and seven other midwestern states plan to start reopening their states on May 1.

Unfortunately for us here in California, it may take a little longer to get the ‘shelter in place order’ lifted.

Governor Newsom’s “Shelter in Place” order

The governor stated that the progress in flattening the curve, increased preparedness of our health care delivery system and the effects of other COVID-19 interventions have yielded positive results. However, these actions have also impacted the economy, poverty, and overall health care in California. Any consideration of modifying the stay-at-home order must be done using a gradual, science-based, and data-driven framework.

“While Californians have stepped up in a big way to flatten the curve and buy us time to prepare to fight the virus, at some point in the future we will need to modify our stay-at-home order,” said Governor Newsom. “As we contemplate reopening parts of our state, we must be guided by science and data, and we must understand that things will look different than before.”

At some point in the future the governor will need to modify the “Shelter in Place order.” The governor said there is not a precise timeline for modifying the stay-at-home order, but that these six indicators will serve as the framework for making that decision.

  • The ability to monitor and protect our communities through testing, contact tracing, isolating, and supporting those who are positive or exposed.
  • The ability to prevent infection in people who are at risk.
  • The ability of the hospital and health systems to handle surges.
  • The ability to develop therapeutics to meet the demand.
  • The ability for businesses, schools, and childcare facilities to support physical distancing; and
  • The ability to determine when to reinstitute certain measures, such as the stay-at-home orders, if necessary.

Here are more temporary closures and event cancellations due to the coronavirus pandemic.

2020 Burning Man Festival

The 2020 Burning Man Festival held for the last 35 years in the Nevada desert can now be added to the list of cancelled events due to the coronavirus. The event was to be held August 30-September 7, 2020.

Nevada 4WD Association (N4WDA)

The N4WDA waited as long as they could but has decided to postpone its inaugural Mild2Wild event to be held on May 9, 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Mono County

Mono County, which includes the town of Mammoth Lakes, has issued Stay at Home orders that are in alignment with orders of the State of California. These orders prohibit all non-essential travel. We are appealing to everyone to follow the Stay at Home orders in order to keep everyone safe.

Mono County is a rural county with limited resources. COVID-19 is a respiratory illness that causes extremely low oxygen levels. Mono County is at high elevation, and the town of Mammoth Lakes sits at approximately 8,000 feet. Due to elevation, patients with severe respiratory illnesses are often transferred to hospitals out of the area that can provide intensive care support over a sustained period. Our one hospital has two intensive care beds, four ventilators and one intensivist who is board certified in pulmonary and critical care medicine. As the COVID-19 pandemic progresses, those referral hospitals could become saturated with intensive care patients limiting our ability to transfer. In that situation, an influx of patients at Mammoth Hospital could mean that we may have to make life and death decisions as to who will receive critical care measures such as life support with mechanical ventilation. 

Although the current number of COVID-19 cases in Mono County remains relatively low, the per capita rate remains one of the highest in California. We are concerned that an influx of people coming into the area could overwhelm our local healthcare resources.

Umpqua National Forest

To support state and local measures directing people to stay home to save lives, the Umpqua National Forest will be temporarily closing all developed recreation areas. These include campgrounds, day-use areas, boat ramps, trail heads, fire lookouts, and OHV areas. The closure will take effect immediately and will continue through September 30 or until such measures are lifted. We have determined this is an important course of action to maintain the health and safety of the public and our employees, address social distancing guidelines provided by the Center for Disease Control and the State of Oregon to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 and to avoid putting undue pressure on local communities from increased visitation. Please follow this Facebook page for updates.

Cleveland National Forest

The Cleveland National Forest will temporarily shut down some of its trailheads, roads, and the Corral Canyon OHV Area. Access points to trails and roads impacted by this order include: 

Descanso Ranger District

  • Agua Dulce Trailhead
  • Four Corners Trailhead
  • Horsethief Trailhead
  • Kernan Cycle Trailhead
  • Laguna Trailhead
  • Meadows Kiosk/Sunset Trailhead
  • Noble Canyon Trailhead
  • Penny Pines Trailhead
  • Pine Creek Trailhead
  • Red-Tailed Roost Trailhead
  • Bear Valley Trailhead with
  • Forest Road No. 16S12,
  • Forest Road No. 16S15
  • Forest Trail No. 802
  • Wooded Hills Road
  • Forest Road No. 15S10

Palomar Ranger District

  • Dripping Springs Trailhead
  • Trabuco Ranger District

    • Hot Springs Trailhead
    • Maple Springs Trailhead
    • San Juan Loop Trailhead
    • Tenaja Trailhead

    These closures will be in effect until April 30, 2020 and will address public health and safety concerns to trail related recreation. A violation of this prohibition is punishable by a fine of not more than $5,000 for an individual or $10,000 for an organization, or imprisonment for not more than six months, or both.

    Angeles National Forest

    In alignment with current federal, state, and local guidance for social distancing and to ensure health safety of its visitors, volunteers and employees, the Angeles National Forest will temporarily shut down high-use areas including roads, all developed recreation sites and portions of the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument and Los Angeles Gateway Ranger District, effective April 4, 2020 through April 30, 2020. 

    Los Padres National Forest

    The Los Padres NF has been experiencing higher than normal visitation in the last few weeks. The agency has been struggling to maintain these areas and some of the outdoor spaces have become overcrowded. The Forest, in an attempt to slow the spread of the coronavirus, has decided to close all developed recreation sites, visitor centers, ranger stations and roads and trails within the Monterey Ranger District until June 1.

    California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW)

    The CDFW has temporarily closed some of its high public use areas, including North Table Mountain Ecological Reserve in Butte County, Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve (Monterey County), Bonny Doon Ecological Reserve (Santa Cruz County), Putah Creek Wildlife Area (Solano County), and some visitor centers and license counters across the state to avoid dangerous visitation surges and help slow the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus).

    California Fish and Game Commission

    The Commission voted to allow temporary limits on freshwater fishing in some rural communities where local officials are concerned out-of-towners could spread the coronavirus to residents. The unanimous vote by the Commission grants emergency authority to the director of the state Department of Fish and Wildlife to postpone the spring trout season at the request of Alpine, Inyo and Mono counties to delay the April 25 Eastern Sierra trout opener. The temporary authority expires May 31, 2020.

    Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit

    In an effort to protect public health and safety the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit has issued a temporary closure order for South Shore Recreation Corridor. In alignment with current federal, state and local guidance for social distancing and to ensure health and safety of its employees, visitors and volunteers, the USDA Forest Service will temporarily close national forest recreation sites and areas in the South Shore Recreation Corridor through May 1, 2020.

    If you decide to venture out and enjoy any type of outdoor recreation, please keep your health, safety and the environment in mind when visiting National Forests. Your personal responsibility is critical to ensuring public safety and preventing further restrictions. We ask that you consider whether your personal participation in outdoor recreation at this time would pose an unnecessary risk to others as we all work together to flatten the curve and slow the spread of the coronavirus.

    Everyone please be safe and stay healthy…

    Comments (1)

    • David Phelps

      David Phelps

      • 17 April 2020 at 20:34
      • #

      Hi Jeff

      Thanks for your update. What have you heard about the High Lakes? Are you still on the Board of the FOTHL's?




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