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Random MammothMC phone call to BLM prevents route closure

posted Jul 21, 2010, 3:39 PM by Tony Burgess   [ updated Jul 27, 2010, 11:32 AM ]
On a recent dirt commute home from work I noticed that the hill climb approaching Doe Ridge had been signed closed by our local BLM.  It was a regularily used road by all sorts of users as it was the only one for miles to access the Doe Ridge road network.  Because of it's popularity, the road had degraded into whoops and had grown fat at the waist, but, for motorcycles it was no problem and not really even a climb - most of the ruts were from late night hot tub partiers that are common in the area.
So, the signed said closed per BLM and an arrow pointed down the road a couple miles to another access point.  I called the BLM an hour later to find out why.  Their rep was very helpful, told me about the sage grouse, and that the road wasn't an original inventory even though it was shown on their surface map.  Perhaps, he said, if you had contacted us earlier we could have made an OHV route out of it - but now it was too late.  At least I got an answer.
Then he brought up an interesting topic, two more roads where slated to be closed near the Crowley Lake community.  One "real" hill climb and another route that accessed DWP lands which later access Tom's Place resort.  This route is often taken by locals and visitors to connect towns but a few issues had arisen.
#1 BLM attend a local community meeting to discuss closures and none in attendance showed any interest one way or the other.
#2 The lease holders on DWP lands were claiming private property trespass and OHV fools driving in sensitive meadow areas.
#3 The hill climb was an eyesore (not for all) and could get washed away in a large rain event.
After hearing him out I spoke about how Dick Noles with the AAPL in Inyo County was trying to create a green sticker network of roads connecting towns for gas and services.  If, his idea ever made it up to our area this route is the only one that can do this.  Close it now and you close access for any future plan of this type.  Also, lets call a spade a spade.  DWP land is not private land in the conventional sense, yes they own it, but DWP is a public agency in the business of extracting resources from our counties (Inyo and Mono) to their own - Los Angeles County.
Did you know that Inyo and Mono counties are primarily overseen by public agencies?  We have little privately owned land here: Inyo county has about 1.8%, and Mono has 7%, the rest is managed by USFS, BLM, State, LADWP, and a few others.
Unbeknownst to me the BLM rep I had spoken with then did a little research.  He found out that DWP didn't have a problem with the access over their parcel, and, the leaseholder had all sorts of vehicles and driving related disturbances, ei, roads, corrals, bridges, two track, etc making the area in question all ready well used.
The next day I got an email, stating "let's talk" we've reconsidered closing the route, but the hill climb is still going away.
It would be an understatement to say that I was impressed!  The hill climb has a fun by-pass, and now the all dirt from Crowley to Tom's has been preserved -- for now.  There was a catch, MammothMC was promised to create the awareness of the route (and hill climb closure) and help spread the word.  If folks can't stay off the meadow (doing donuts, you know who you are) we'll most likely see it and pass your info on.