Week #3: OHV Coronavirus update

On Sunday President Donald Trump extended the voluntary national shut down for another month, until April 30. The initial 15-day period of social distancing urged by the federal government expires today and the President decided to extend the guidelines when the current modeling showed that they should expect the coronavirus pandemic to peak within the next few weeks.

In California, Governor Gavin Newsom announced that the lockdown which includes shelter in place and distancing measures will continue on through at least the end of April but also possibly through mid-June.

This is a challenging time for California and the nation; we recognize it gets confusing trying determine what areas are open and what areas have been temporarily closed due to the spread of the coronavirus.

Here is a list of the latest temporary closures:

United States Forest Service (USFS)

The Pacific Southwest Region of the Forest Service, in response to the recent statewide shelter-in-place order issued by the Governor of California, is joining the cause to aggressively mitigate the spread of the coronavirus by closing developed recreation facilities on our National Forests statewide.

Along with the developed recreation facility closures, all outfitting, guiding and recreation event operations are suspended until the state shelter in place order is lifted.  

While designated recreation sites will be closed, the general Forest area will remain open and available to the public.

Closures of developed recreation facilities are being put in place until at least April 30.  

California State Parks

State Parks has announced that it is temporarily closing vehicle access at all 280 state parks (includes all SVRAs) to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

The department had previously implemented various safety measures such as temporarily closing all campgrounds, museums, and visitor centers in the State Parks system; cancelling all events; and closing access to parks and beaches to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

But last weekend many of California’s state parks once again experienced visitation surges that the department felt it made it impossible for the public to implement appropriate social/ physical distancing practices.

The temporary closure includes all the state SVRAs.

OHMVR Commission

The April Commission meeting has been cancelled.

California Coastal Commission

The April meeting has been canceled.

California BLM

In accordance with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and with the governor’s shelter in place order, the BLM has decided to ¬†temporarily close all developed campgrounds and developed recreation sites in California, to help limit the spread of coronavirus.

The closure is effective immediately and will remain in effect until such time as conditions allow for safe use of the recreation areas. While developed recreation sites are closed, dispersed camping and trails remain open and available to the public.

Visitors may continue to enjoy dispersed camping on BLM managed lands, as well as recreating at the five Off-Highway Vehicle Recreation Areas: Dumont Dunes, El Mirage, Johnson Valley, Stoddard Valley and Rasor.

Please note that existing rules and regulations apply. Entrance fees may have been waived, but other fees, such as cabin rentals, group day use, and use of special areas will remain in effect. 

Please do your part when visiting your public lands as some visitor services may be limited due to limited staff availability in some areas.

Barstow BLM

The emergency closures apply to the Desert Discovery Center, Sawtooth, Owl Canyon, and Afton Canyon developed campgrounds.

Sand Mountain

The BLM in coordination with local officials announced an emergency closure of the Sand Mountain Recreation Area 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 will be temporarily closed until further notice.

Winnemucca Dunes

The Humboldt River Field Office of the BLM announced an emergency closure of the Winnemucca Sand Dunes located approximately nine miles north of Winnemucca in Humboldt County.

Following guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and recommendations from state and local public health authorities, the BLM has decided to temporarily close the Winnemucca Sand Dunes and the Sand Mountain Recreation areas to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area

The BLM has decided to temporarily close the campgrounds at Osborne Overlook and Gecko Road temporarily to help limit the spread of coronavirus.

The campgrounds at Glamis, Wash Road, Gordons Well / Dunebuggy Flats, Greys Well / Buttercup, Ogilby, and Mammoth Wash remain open.

The BLM asks that you enjoy the dunes responsibly and practice social distancing outdoors.

Johnson Valley

The Marine Corps has cancelled training in the Johnson Valley Shared Use Area previously scheduled for April 30, 2020 through May 11, 2020. The Shared Use Area will remain open to the public during this period.

The Johnson Valley Shared Use Area remains scheduled for temporary closure on the following dates:

  • October 30, 2020 - November 9, 2020
  • April 30, 2021 - May 10, 2021
  • October 29, 2021 - November 8, 2021

When recreating near the base at any time, please respect base boundaries for your safety. The Combat Center is a live-fire training installation that conducts critical training year-round.

Jawbone Canyon

Although the Jawbone Station Visitors Center is closed, the Jawbone, Dove Springs, and Spangler OHV Recreation Areas remain open at this time for recreation and dispersed camping.

So, it looks like a few more weeks of this shelter in place order. I do not know about any of you, but cabin fever is beginning to set in, and I really need to get out and go camping.

I realize that outdoor recreation is an important part of who we are and that studies have shown that it makes us happier and healthier people when we recreate outdoors.
But we all need to make good decisions, we need to do our part and stay home to help limit the spread of coronavirus.
But should you decide to hit the trails, please carefully consider the potential implications to you, your family, or friends. Make decisions that make sense and do your part by following the recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and other federal, state, and local agencies.
Please follow these guidelines if you choose to recreate outdoors:

  • Maintain a safe distance between yourself and other groups
  • Limit your group to 10 people or less
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds; or use hand sanitizer if you cannot wash your hands
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth; covering your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze
  • Stay home if you feel sick

If anyone has any questions or comments please contact me at any time.

Jeff Blewett
C4WDA Northern Natural Resource Consultant
ndnrc@cal4wheel.com

About the Author

Jeff Blewett

Jeff Blewett

Natural Resources Consultant - North
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