Mammoth M/C Meeting Minutes

7/21/2011


Members in Attendance:  John, James,  Joe, Tom, Les, Brad

Guests: None

James:

We met at the Z-ranch Restaurant and bar.  The Z-Ranch’s kitchen was still under construction, but they did have a BBQ set up outside serving a few items.  Cans of King Cobra were $1.50 – we drank several. The brats were pretty good too.

 

Joe had a pot pocket… I mean a HOT pocket.

 

I started off the meeting talking a little about last month’s meeting with Stacy Corless (friends of the Inyo).  I thought it went well, and I’m glad she made it out.  In the end we’re just going to agree to disagree.  Stacy feels that this route designation process is necessary and a good use of money, and I feel it’s a terrible waste of money and completely unnecessary. Oh well…

The reality of the situation is that our roads are being illegally closed, our forest is becoming littered with brown plastic signs, and the individuals who actually use the roads are becoming extremely pissed off!  This isn’t what I consider good policy, but its reality.

We then switched gears and started discussing the Forest Service “run-in” that recently happened to one of our own members. 

Just this past week, a group of Mammoth M/C members were riding through the RV Park working their way over to the 203.  As they began to cross the Hwy (towards Shady Rest), they were spotted by a female USFS employee who was in a truck.  She happened to be pulling a trailer (with a Ryno on it… go figure).  After the first rider crossed the 203, the FS employee immediately did a u-turn, started honking her horn, and then pulled over to the side and blocked the trail with her truck and trailer.  She then jumped out of the truck and began yelling things and made a sudden move to grab the rider’s handlebars (he was still on his bike).   Keep in mind that all of this was being performed on the side of the hwy – clearly outside of FS jurisdiction.
  

The Female USFS employee then started yelling stuff about green sticker numbers as well as saying “This is a closed trail, you guys are breaking the law and I’m going to call the police!”  She had her cell phone the whole time during this detention. 

Let it be known that there were no closed signs on this trail, so the rider calmly informed the FS representative that he was merely crossing the hwy – so what’s the problem?  She responded by saying that “ALL single-track/motorcycle trails and quad trails are closed – they are ALL illegal!” 

She eventually let our club member go, but not before threatening to come back to close the trail. 

Man!  Talk about an overextension of their so-called “authority!”  This FS representative is out of control!  I immediately wrote an e-mail to John Kazmierski and Mike Schlaffman:

TO: jkazmierski@fs.fed.us (John Kazmierski USFS)

Forest Service Employees conducting illegal detentions on dirtbike riders

John,

It has come to our attention that one of your Forest Service employees has been conducting illegal detentions on OHV users and spreading lies about closures, etc. 

The incident in question happened last week (Wednesday 7/20).  One of your employees was driving on hwy 203 (pulling a trailer with a UTV on it).  A group of 3 motorcyclists (Mammoth M/C members) were about to cross the 203 to explore some of the trails around Shady Rest Park.   After one rider had crossed, your employee (female) decided to pull her vehicle over to the side of the hwy and physically block the OHV trail (where the riders intended to go).  This caused an unsafe situation in the middle of hwy 203 as there was nowhere to go.  After she blocked the trail, she exited the vehicle, approached one rider and forcefully grabbed his handlebars. This prevented him from leaving (all this was happening on the hwy).  After fully detaining the rider, she started in with the lies and unintelligent lecturing: “This is a closed trail, you guys are breaking the law and I’m going to call Law enforcement!”   The rider calmly explained to her that there isn’t a closed sign on this trail, and he was merely crossing the hwy in the same safe manner that he has been doing for the last 10 years!   She ignored his reasoning and continued on with her argument (all the while holding onto the rider’s handlebars…on the side of the hwy) explaining that, “All singletrack as well as quad trails in the Inyo is illegal and will eventually be closed!  The only thing that is open to OHV use is roads, and if they aren’t signed they’re closed too!”

The trail where the riders intended to go is located entirely on the 203 embankment, and closing it would be illegal (on your part).  I’ll be contacting Caltrans next week to find out exactly how much land on each side of the hwy is in their “right of way.”  Usually, Caltrans has right of way ownership of about 30 feet from the edge of the hwy (shoulder).  This could change however with each hwy.    

She eventually released our club member but not without mentioning to him that she’ll be back to close this trail soon so don’t bother using it again.  

Our club would like to know what the reasoning was behind this detention, and Is this new FS policy - when enforcing the so-called “travel management decision (ROD)?”  We hoped that the USFS employees would have a little more restraint with their tempers, and we expected to be treated in a professional manner – as you would treat anyone you work for.  We were not.  We were illegally detained and treated like criminals.  This is the wrong thing to do, especially during this fragile time of Route designation “implementation.” I am sad to say that this has only created more anger and mistrust between the local ohv community and the USFS.  Please know that these continued acts of overextending your so-called authority will not be tolerated by our club. 

Remember last year we have a similar problem with one of your “Rangers,” who would patrol on a dirt bike and constantly harass campers out at Grant Lake (on LADWP land)? 

This is just more of the same treatment. 

John, please forward this e-mail to Mike Schlaffman, I was unable to find his e-mail address and I’m sure he would be interested in this incident.

Thanks for your time and I look forward to your reply

 

James Connolly

President

Mammoth M/C

 

The FS representatives (John and Mike) responded to this, and later claimed that they met with the employee to get her side of the story. 

The following is there "unofficial" stance on the situation:

The 3 riders that were involved were riding through the Mammoth Lakes RV Park – that alone was a criminal act as green sticker vehicles aren’t allowed to do this.  They were also trying to access an illegal section of trail (this is another criminal act). That’s two crimes committed.

These two acts just happened to be witnessed by a passing “forest protection officer” (Not to be confused with a Law Enforcement Officer), and she took the proper action.  She did not purposely block the trail with her vehicle – if she did, it was just a coincidence.  She also didn’t exit the vehicle in a hysterical manner, and there was no grabbing of the handlebars either.  If the rider thought she grabbed his handlebars and held on he was mistaken. She did the right thing, by calmly exited the vehicle and merely moving the handlebars to the side with her hand so she could get a good look at the green sticker.  She did not “detain” or “hold” the rider back either, as the dirt bike rider was free to leave at any moment (even though he couldn’t).  

The Forest Service said that a “safety officer” is not allowed to pull people over on the hwy.  This is common knowledge, she knows this, and it’s silly to even claim that she did. She was merely doing her job – which is to protect the forest from illegal activity (referring to the 2 criminal acts that were being committed).  Since she was driving in her vehicle at the time of the criminal acts, she immediately located a safe place on the side of the shoulder of hwy 203 to stop, exited, and proceeded to wave the rider over to perform her “contact and re-education routine.”    

She chose a perfectly safe place to perform her “contact & re-education” and all parties were in no danger from passing cars.” Any unsafe situation that was reported by the rider just didn’t happen.

Finally, and most importantly - She DID NOT tell the rider that “All singletrack is closed, and that only signed roads are open.”  She knows that saying that would be untrue and so she wouldn’t say such a thing.  The FS was unsure why he heard this information, and the only explanation was that “Your club member must have been in such a nervous state, that he heard the wrong information.” It happens all the time, stated The FS employee, “People get nervous because of a given situation, and they tend to hear things that aren’t actually spoken.” “Besides, she would never give out that kind miss-information. 

Bottom line, if you or any of your club members ride that trail again you will be cited, and there is the possibility that you can get your bikes impounded as well.

 

It should be noted that the Forest Service NEVER called our member to get his statement – they said it wasn’t necessary to do so.  I did however, and this is his reply:

Are you kidding me??  What a bunch of lies!  I was stopped by a lady… in the middle of the street (hwy 203)!  The first thing she did, after exiting the vehicle, was grab my handlebars so I couldn’t leave.  THEN she started in with a higher than normal tone, “What’s your number…  What’s your number?”  She kept asking me that... over and over – along with other things about calling the cops and riding on illegal trails, etc…  I didn’t know what the hell she was talking about, but then she finally said “What is your green sticker number!?”  How the hell should I know what my green sticker number is, so I told her “it’s on my bike and I don’t know the number.”  Keep in mind that this was all going down in the left lane of hwy 203!  And NO, it wasn’t safe… we were in the lane of the hwy, how is that safe?    I immediately asked the lady if we could go on to the side of the road to talk...  and we did. 

No, I didn’t imagine any conversations – that’s a pathetic thing to say!  Why would I be nervous, I was completely legal (green sticker and spark arrester), and I remember EXACTLY what she said!   She specifically told me that ALL singletrack is now closed… and if a road isn’t singed open, that IT’s CLOSED TOO! That’s what she said, and I have a witness (the other rider came back at that time and heard the same thing I did! Was he hearing things too?  Why would I make that up?  She didn’t produce any kind of proof as to the legality of the trail either…No maps, no signs, noting.  And I’m supposed to take what this crazy lady said as the truth?? Whatever! This Lady knows what she did and she knows what she said.  Of course she had to lie about to make herself look good.  Who knows, maybe now since she got called on it (and had to explain herself), she might think twice before doing it again...”

 

 

Well, there you have it folks… 2 completely different stories about what went down that day

It might come as a surprise to some of you, but I’m going to have to agree with the Forest Service on this one!

 

Our club member has a sketchy past… and I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that he in fact made this whole thing up!  Probably for attention!

 

In the end, the only thing that we can learn from this encounter (and what we can all agree on), is that thanks to the “new route designation process” our sport is now criminalized more than ever.  What was once a perfectly legal trail last year is now “illegal” this year?

Why you ask?

Who knows...?

 

Maybe there were some important artifacts located there (on the shoulder of hwy 203)...

Or maybe there's no real reason at all – just because someone said so.

 

But no matter the reason, there was no closed signs, no blockades, no nothing… Just a trail.   And in the end, it looks like we are have transformed into a new breed of criminals (literally overnight), and the "authorities" must address this new breed in a swift and effective manner.   

This particular incident happened to be performed by a lady in a truck without lights. And she decided to stop some dirt bike riders in the middle of the hwy... By grabbing handle bars, and carrying on with false information about what she feels is open and closed.

 

 

Oh yeah…

I forgot…

That never happened.

 

John:

John Talked a little about a Sherriff in Oregon named Glen Palmer.  Below is a letter that Mr. Palmer wrote to the USFS regarding what he feels is a mistreatment by the USFS law enforcement officers towards local citizens resulting from the travel management decision – and his refusal to sign the letter of cooperation between the Grant Co Sheriff Dept and the USFS. 

 

Here’s a copy of the letter (borrowed from somewhere in cyberspace):

 

 

Malheur National Forest

Patterson Bridge Road

John Day, Oregon 97845

Ms. Raaf, March 31, 2011

Regarding the pending cooperative policing agreement between the US Forest Service and the Grant County Sheriff, I am advising you in writing that I will not be signing the agreement. I do not believe that it is in the best interest of the people I serve or the Grant County Sheriff’s Office to continue with the agreement.

There are several issues that I will bring to your attention that at this point I will not go into detail about.

The issues include, but are not limited to, how US Forest Service LEO’s treated citizens of this county in October and November of 2010, Travel Management Plan, illegal road closures, grazing, logging, wood permits, prescribed burns, unemployment and other socio-economic issues this community faces today. There is a general mistrust of the federal government by the people of this County, State and Nation.

You are aware that I had sent at least two requests to the US Forest Service asking for information that pertains to where the US Forest Service gets its Constitutional authority to have law enforcement officers within Grant County.

One response that I have received in writing is that their authority is given through the Cooperative Policing Agreement that this agency has signed in the past. Upon asking for clarification and a second request, the response was that I needed to check with my District Attorney. Neither response in my opinion is adequate.

Under Article 1 Section 8 of the United States Constitution, the federal government is limited in its powers and authority. Your jurisdiction as I see it is limited in nature to the Federal Building in John Day.

Within the confines of Grant County, Oregon, the duties and responsibility of law enforcement will rest with the County Sheriff and his designees.

Sincerely,

Glenn E. Palmer

Sheriff for Grant County

 

If you’re interested in learning more about why Sherriff Palmer made this decision, listen to this interesting radio interview where Glenn Palmer talks about “Route Designation”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=erzF8Jr-C5Y

 

Meeting adjourned: approx 7:00