Week #8: OHV Coronavirus update

| Suzy Johnson | Access Issues

Slowly we are starting to see states, counties and cities begin to reopen after governors start to ease up on their local “shelter in place” orders. It’s going to be a slow process getting everything reopened and everyone back to work, but unfortunately for us who live in California it will seem like we are in slow motion. Governor Newsom’s four-phase plan will keep many parts of our economy locked down for a few more months.

We are coming into the summer months when Cal4 and many of its clubs hold their events and due to the “shelter in place” order many events have been canceled or postponed. The governor has not put together a timeline on when outdoor gathering will be able to resume; we are all hoping we do not lose all our events this summer.

Here are some of the events that have been cancelled or postponed in the last week-

  • Hi Desert Round-Up scheduled for Memorial Day Weekend
  • HiLander’s Poker run scheduled for Father’s Day Weekend
  • 4x4 In Motion Poker scheduled for July 10-11 at the Niagara Rim Trail run
  • 2020 Dunefest scheduled for July 21-26 in Winchester, Oregon


Let’s start with good news!

Sand Mountain, Nevada

Beginning Saturday, May 9, Sand Mountain Recreation Area will re-open access for all uses including day use and overnight camping.  

With the lifting of public health and safety restrictions enacted by Nevada government officials, the Bureau of Land Management, Stillwater Field Office (SFO), today announced that Sand Mountain Recreation Area will re-open to the public for recreational access. The BLM is working service-wide with federal, state, and local public health authorities to closely monitor the coronavirus pandemic and using a phased approach to increase access on a case-by-case basis.
Sand Mountain Recreation Area is located approximately twenty-five miles south east of Fallon, NV on U.S. 50 in Churchill County. The 4,808-acre Sand Mountain Recreation Area is a designated off-highway vehicle fee site and was temporarily closed for public safety reasons.

Considering the emergency safety closure of public lands, the BLM, will extend all Sand Mountain annual passes purchased prior to the closure. This extension will be based on the amount of time this area was closed.

Now back to more closures…

Eldorado National Forest

New temporary emergency closures are now in effect for high use areas where there are safety hazards associated with down trees, and other fire-related hazards in the Caples Fire burned area such as fire weakened trees, stump holes and loose rocks. 

All uses, including hiking, are temporarily prohibited for areas specified in the new temporary closure order which includes trails within the Rock Creek, Elkins Flat, and Caples Creek trail systems. Bald Mountain Staging Area, Balderson Trailhead, Mace Mill Staging Area, Elkins Flat Staging Area, Caples Creek Trailhead, Caples Creek Equestrian Trailhead, and trails associated with these sites have been closed through May 31, 2020. These closures could be extended as conditions warrant.

In addition to the new emergency closures, the public is reminded that other closures are still in effect:  

20-03 - Closure of Developed Recreation Facilities – Developed recreation facilities including campgrounds, picnic areas, day use areas and boat ramps are closed for public health and safety to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Winter Road Closures:

03-20-01 Mormon Emigrant Trail (MET) / Iron Mountain Road Winter Closure – No wheeled vehicles are permitted on snow covered areas.

 03-19-03 Silver Fork Road Winter closure – No wheeled vehicles are permitted on snow covered areas.

Dispersed Camping Closures:

03-20-05 Stumpy Meadows Restricted Use Area - Dispersed camping and campfires are prohibited on national forest system lands surrounding Stumpy Meadows Reservoir which is an important community water supply. 

03-20-03 Northshore Loon Lake Area Closure – Dispersed camping and campfires are prohibited on national forest system lands on the north shore of Loon Lake which is an important community water supply.  

The road to the Loon Lake Dam is open to provide access to the Rubicon Trail but all dispersed camp and parking along side of the road have been closed due to a facility upgrade project and needed area restoration. The Northshore Campground and adjacent dispersed camping areas will be closed during the 2020 camping season. A Forest Order has been issued to close the project area and dispersed camping areas adjacent to the original campground boundary. This campground and closure area is located near the Ellis Trailhead on the north shore of Loon Lake and is popular with the Rubicon Trail and dispersed camping users.

Rubicon Trail Closed May 15-17

Map showing closures on Rubicon trail

I reported on this last week, but I wanted to remind everyone that the trail will be closed on May 15-17 for trail maintenance. The county will be flying in rock into various locations for all three days. The main focus is Cadillac Hill building gabions and working at hairpin to rebuild the rock wall. They also will be working at other locations on both sides of the trail. The goal has been to complete all the work before Memorial Day Weekend.

Colorado OHV Program

The Colorado Joint Budget Committee is looking at rescinding all or part of the funding for the Colorado OHV program in response to the coronavirus outbreak. This is the fund that was created to fund OHV projects in the State using OHV registration dollars. The Budget Committee is looking to redirect the funds 5 million dollars to the general account to help with the budget issues caused by the coronavirus.

We here in California are very familiar with state legislators or budget committees trying to redirect our OHV Trust Fund dollars. Currently we have about 10 million a year redirected, stolen, borrowed or whatever way they label it this time from our OHV Trust.

All dispersed camping closed in Oregon forests

The state of Oregon has temporarily closed all dispersed camping on Oregon state forests starting on Monday, May 11, due to the coronavirus pandemic. Dispersed camping areas typically do not have restrooms or garbage disposal, and campers are expected to pack out everything they bring in and properly dispose of human waste.

Problems with trash and human waste accumulation in these areas have become insurmountable and hazardous for the public and State employees.

The Oregon Department of Forestry expects the closure to last several weeks while additional resources are brought on to clean the areas and make them safe for public use again. There is no date set for re-opening dispersed camping. The agency had previously closed campgrounds and day use areas. Forest roads and trails remain open.

Environmental groups use the Coronavirus pandemic to lobby for climate change agenda

Why waste a good crisis to push your climate change agenda. In the build up to Congress passing legislation to support the economy amid the coronavirus pandemic, numerous environmental groups spent big dollars  lobbying lawmakers and the administration to block any federal support for the nation’s oil and natural industry and to use the crisis to push for climate policies.

At the same time that Congress was appropriating trillions of dollars for the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, or the “CARES Act,” many environmental groups attempted to seize on to these spending bills to promote clean energy policies that are designed for long-term transformations.

As part of its lobbying, on March 20, a dozen environmental groups sent a letter to congressional leaders demanding oil and natural gas producers be excluded from any stimulus package. They wrote, “Further government support for the fossil fuel industry should be no part of a coronavirus economic recovery package, other than direct support to workers.”

In the first few months of 2020, some of the nations top environmental groups took aim at the energy industry. Groups like League of Conservation Voters, Sierra Club, Wilderness Society spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to lobby members of Congress to push their climate change agendas as the coronavirus was spreading across the country and the world.

We all have been doing our part to help stop the spread of the coronavirus by  “sheltering in place” for the last few months. But with Memorial Day Weekend right around the corner, it’s time for many of us to get out of the house, time to hit the trails and go camping.

Memorial Day Weekend is always popular weekend to get out and enjoy your favorite OHV trail or area. But, with all of us being locked down for the past few months, many of our popular OHV areas will be very crowded on this upcoming Memorial Day Weekend.  

Please make sure the facilities/area/trail you plan to use are open before you head out and check for any travel restrictions.

As you enjoy recreating outdoors, please remember to:

  • “Tread Lightly” 
  • “Stay on the Trail”
  • “Pack it in, pack it out”

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