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Don't Jawbone Mammoth

posted Feb 10, 2012, 10:40 PM by Tony Burgess
(A MammothMC president report on OHV grant meeting highlights from Bishop, CA)

The following notes may not come across as pretty - blame it on the Cabernet Sauvignon.

On January 30, 2012, I headed down to Bishop to represent the Town of Mammoth Lakes at a OHV grant meeting in the Bishop BLM/USFS shared building on tribal lands.  Sargent of arms, Joe, showed up too, but late.  About 80% of the participants there were on various agency time, being paid to sit and discuss the state of OHV in Inyo and Mono counties.  So there I was guilty as charged too as the Town of Mammoth Lakes was paying my xxx xxx (it's a synonym for chunky posterior) to attend and constructively participate.  Ultimately, this writer struggled with the duality of paid civil servant and volunteer club position.  (if that makes any sense just let me know)

Grabbing a seat next to Jerry Counts I immediately opened up the latest CTUC map which covers Bishop and south to the Owens dry Lake and Death Valley.  What a surprise, after putting in so much volunteer time on the first map I had no clue the next was in production.  Regardless, being that the Owens dry Lake and Death Valley are of extreme interest I scanned the map strongly.  In about 10 seconds I could tell that the map was missing hundreds of miles of routes.

Yes, I said hundreds.

Nudging Jerry, I said, "Too bad so many routes aren't shown".  Felt kind of bad setting him up but Jerry as sharp as usual replied, "Every legal forest road is shown."  

Waving my hand over the map, "Look Jerry, the Owens Valley covers most of the map and available riding, this isn't forest."  Then as Jerry began to explain, Ed cut it short - the meeting had begun.

But I was still thinking about the map.  Memories came back regarding MammothMC's participation with the other CTUC map (covering Bishop north to Mammoth and beyond) and perhaps we shouldn't have been critical or asked any tough questions regarding obvious errors or favoritism to routes that Jerry liked.  As a result or not, we were given no notice to collaborate on this sister project and that tells me that our club is too difficult to work with - let's improve that for 2012.  In my opinion, without our participation the public is presented with an inferior mapping product, but maybe that's what the CTUC is all about.

Moving around the table going through introductions things were rather low-key.  Then Counts had to bring up the fact that around Jawbone and Ridgecrest routes ate closed unless signed open.

And, Bishop and surrounds is open unless signed closed. (opposite, for those skimming)

And now, another surprise for me, all of the Mammoth area shares the same rules as Jawbone - all our trails are officially closed unless signed open!  What?  Since when!  Jerry's dilemma was about how does one travelling through the area tell the difference between these two opposing dirt trail management styles?  There was some talk, but no resolution.

Next up a grant manager from state OHV (not Sixto) started with a stern talking to what it seemed to be the Friends of the Inyo, but was for everyone in the room.  (He was looking their way)

"No more fluff!  I don't want to see pictures of fields of lilies"
"Accountability levels are ratcheting up"
"Big changes to what's happened in the past"

For a moment I actually felt uncomfortable.  Has our club's opposing views on route management and road closures been finally heard in some small way?  What if?  FOI spoke about passing on the next grant cycle to which the grant manager replied, "Yeah, you have a lot on your plate."  But then Ed piped in with, "You'll have people and equipment sitting idle...", just minutes after he stated that restoration grants were overshadowing other OHV grant opportunities.

Insert editorial here:

Ed, you can't play both sides without someone (MammothMC) watching the money trail.  And disgustingly enough the money folks is what this is all about.  MONEY (in large print)

Grants aren't 'free' money, there's no such thing.  Grants are funded from all of us tax payers, then doled out to fund respectable projects that tax payers can agree on, not just to serve special interests that happen to be the flavor of the month.  Who is out there making a living on GRANTS?  Is it right, or wrong?  With big changes in store are some going to lose their way of life if GRANTS dry up?  Will they fight tooth and nail to preserve their place in line?  Tough questions, I know, work on that.

Back to the meeting FOI told some reps from AAPL (advocates for access to public lands), "I'd love for you (AAPL) to get us out of the OHV business."  The AAPL gents didn't look like they wanted too.  Maybe next time they could get their members interested in lots of MONEY.

And just for the record it should be noted that I like money, lots of it.  Even so, we've had this conversation going around the club, we don't want it.  We don't want the strings that come with, the dilution of our passions by it, or, even becoming someone's puppet because of cold hard CASH.

***  ***  *** 

USFS mentioned the Mammoth track briefly with a new take on an old angle.  The infrastructure at the track which Mammoth Mountain controls is actually constructed and deconstructed as needed making it downright dangerous for anyone to ride there - even if they could.  I just quickly thought back 10 years or so ago and it was never a problem then.  Let's not make a minor roadblock springboard into the deciding issue.

***  ***  ***

Then more happened.  Who cares anyway.  I walked out never to return "on the clock" again.  Can't do it.


el Presidente