Week #9: OHV Coronavirus update

I personally did not get out for Memorial Day Weekend but many of you did. Johnson Valley, Moon Rocks, Sand Mountain, Rubicon, Fordyce, Hollister Hills SVRA and many other trails and campgrounds all had big crowds over the weekend. Unfortunately, I saw way too many posts on social media about piles of garbage left behind on our trails and in our campgrounds.

I know I am preaching to the choir about this. But when we all first started recreating outdoors the first thing we learned was to “Tread Lightly” and “Pack it in, Pack it Out”. If you joined a club or just went off-roading with friends, they would remind you if you screwed up and did not follow the rules.

Times are different now, club membership is down, but social media clubs are bigger than ever, and I believe that these important programs are just not being passed on to the new generation of outdoor recreationalists.
Education is the key; they are not bad people they just do not know all the regulations and they do not understand how important it is for all us OHV and outdoor recreationist maintain a good public image of being good stewards of our public lands.

If you are in a club, mentor the new members and teach them the correct way to be good stewards of our public lands.
If you encounter bad behavior out on the trail, politely remind them about the “Tread Lightly” and “Pack it in, Pack it Out” programs and what the consequences of their actions could be. Trails have been closed for less, if we don’t care who will?

Lassen National Forest

The Lassen NF has extended closure of most of its developed recreation sites through June 11 with some sites opening on the Eagle Lake District. By keeping the developed recreation sites closed through June 11, 2020, it allows the Forest Service to provide the time necessary to reopen these sites in a safe manner. The Forest Service personnel needs time to prepare for the anticipated increases in visitation while minimizing risks that they bring to public health.

Sierra National Forest

The Sierra NF announced on May 20 that most developed recreation sites within the National Forest will remain closed through June 4, 2020.

Stanislaus National Forest

The Stanislaus NF announced that many developed recreation sites will remain closed through May 31.

Eldorado National Forest

The emergency closures for the Rock Creek, Elkins Flat and Caples Creek trails systems on the Eldorado National Forest have been extended through May 31. These temporary closures were put in place on May 8 to protect visitors and employees from hazardous trail conditions caused by storm damage and fire damage that has occurred since last year’s field season. Trail assessment and maintenance, including hazard mitigation, is planned and trails will be reopened as soon as the work is completed to clear all hazards.

The Eldorado National Forest is increasing access to the public by providing additional developed day use recreational opportunities with limited services. Restroom facilities will open as soon as personnel can mobilize, and safety and cleaning supplies are obtained.

Shasta-Trinity National Forest

Last week, Forest Service officials announced they would be reopening 31 campsites in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest, just in time for Memorial Day weekend. Now they have added six more to that list, all in the Trinity area, bringing the total campsites open in the national forest to 37.

Modoc National Forest

Recreation sites on the Modoc National Forest are open with no water or other services. Please be prepared to pack out what you bring in.

Mendocino National Forest

The Mendocino National Forest will provide additional developed recreational opportunities to the public on Saturday, May 31, 2020. Please check the forest website and social media pages for the most up-to-date information on what is open so that you can plan your visit.

Tahoe National Forest

The Forest Service announced a multitude of reopening’s in the Tahoe National Forest this week, including all motorized roads and trails, and select campsites just northwest of Lake Tahoe. Including these popular OHV areas:

  • Fordyce Jeep Trail 
  • The Bear Valley OHV system
  • Gold Valley OHV system
  • Sugar Pine OHV system

Inyo County

Inyo County has rescinded its Public Health Order prohibiting short term rentals. Campgrounds and RV Parks are now able to open for business and are able to rent for less than 30 days. With all the campgrounds closed, Inyo County has seen a huge increase in dispersed camping. Dispersed campsites offer no garbage collection or safe areas to build campfires. As Inyo County moves into fire season the risk of wildfires caused by dispersed campers has become a serious issue for the County.

Dove Springs / Jawbone Canyon

Dove Springs and Jawbone Canyon have been reopened for day use riding on State Park land.  State Parks has posted A-frames with signs in some of the more popular campsites regarding no overnight camping. Everything else is open for dispersed camping and riding.

However, Red Rock Canyon State Park is still remained closed at this time.

California City OHV

It was announced earlier this week that all riding and camping in the desert surrounding California City, California has been reopened. The state government would still like you to abide by social distancing guidelines and of course be safe as OHV riding resumes. California City is located 100 miles North of Los Angeles and is popular in the winter months for all kinds of off-road activities.

Coos Bay Dunes Recreation Area

The Coos Bay Dunes have been reopened this week for camping and OHV recreation. The Boxcar, Myrtlewood, and KOA campgrounds are all open.  The Hauser and Spinreel assess are open but the USFS campground are closed.

Miller/ Lockwood Canyon Trail

The Miller/ Lockwood OHV trail opened on May 23rd.

California State Parks

As State Parks begins its phased reopening of parks and beaches in compliance with state and local public health ordinances, it is important for visitors to continue to practice physical distancing and avoid congregating with people outside their immediate household. Everyone has the responsibility to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

Campgrounds and high public-use indoor facilities, including museums and visitor centers will remain closed for the time being. Most facility’s including some of the States SVRA’s will being opening very soon for day use only to start. Special events and tours continue to be canceled until further notice.

The reopening of these public outdoor spaces will be made with little advance notice and visitors should expect a different state park experience than they are used to. With 280 park units in the state park system, visitors are advised to visit the webpage of their local outdoor destination before leaving home to find out if it is open, what new visitor guidelines are in effect and if parking is available.

Unfortunately, at this time Oceano Dunes, Ocotillo Wells and Heber Dunes SVRA’s all remain closed with no reopening date in sight.

Here is a list of the SVRA’s that have opened up for day use only:

Carnegie State Vehicular Recreation Area

Operating hours are 8:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m. Public Parking is extremely limited. Here are the areas open in the park:

  • Motocross Track
  • 4x4 Area
  • Trials Area
  • 110 cc Track
  • 70 cc Track
  • ATV Track
  • Riding Trails
  • Beginners Riding Area
  • MotoMart

Clay Pit SVRA

Clay Pit SVRA is now open to vehicular access and parking for day-use recreation. The staging area is open for loading and unloading and the riding area is open to motorcycle, ATV and 4x4 vehicles.

Onyx Ranch SVRA

Onyx Ranch SVRA is now open for day use riding only and public parking is extremely limited.

Hollister Hills SVRA

Hollister Hills SVRA is open for day use vehicular traffic from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily.

  • Upper Ranch (4x4)
  • Lower Ranch (dirt bike and ATV)
  • Mudstone Ranch (hiking, bicycling, and equestrian)

There are minimal large parking spaces for trailers – if possible, bring a single vehicle or small trailer

When park reaches full capacity, the main gate will be closed.  Do not park on Cienega Road to wait for availability.

Hungry Valley State Vehicular Recreation Area

Hungry Valley State Vehicular Recreation Area is open from 06:00 a.m. to 06:00 p.m. to active recreation with restrictions in place to encourage social distancing and reduce group gatherings.
State Parks requests that visitors remain in their vehicles or next to their vehicles during transactions and inspections of their vehicles.

Trails, routes, and open spaces are now open for active recreational use. Rules and regulations are now posted at all Kiosks and at major routes in the SVRA. Only restrooms in the proximity of the parking lots will be available.

Prairie City State Vehicular Recreation Area

Prairie City SVRA is open for day use only. The areas of the park that are now open include:

  • Main entrance
  • Kids Track
  • Main Staging Area
  • ATV and MX Practice Tracks
  • Obstacle Area
  • 4X4 Track and Staging Area
  • Zone 1 riding trails, Zone 2 riding trails, Zone 3 riding trails

We will keep you up to date on what areas remain closed and what area’s that will be opening back up in the near future.

If you choose to recreate outdoors, please make sure the facilities are open before you head out and check for any travel restrictions. Please follow all local, State, and Federal guidelines.

Do your part – Make sure to pack out what you pack in and remember to always stay on designated routes.

About the Author

Jeff Blewett

Jeff Blewett

Natural Resources Consultant - North
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