West Mojave map

Phillip Klasky holds up a map containing the area members of his Community ORV Watch say they are trying to protect.

MORONGO BASIN — A meeting was recently held in Joshua Tree to inform residents of a plan that would double the amount of off-road vehicle routes in the Morongo Basin and could make it a hotbed for off-road enthusiasts.

Community ORV Watch held a workshop Dec. 5 to encourage participants to identify and document their concerns with proposed ORV routes in their neighborhoods.

There are currently 5,338 miles of routes than can be traveled legally in the Morongo Basin area, which were established by a federal land use plan amendment adopted in 2006.

Due to litigation since the 2006 designation, a deadline for new route designations from the Bureau of Land Management was due in September.

The BLM came up with four alternatives, which are outlined in the West Mojave Route Network Project Amendment created in January.

Alternative 3, which is the preferred alternative according to www.blm.gov, would double the amount of trails for ORV access and has Community ORV Watch members up in arms.

Alternative 1: No Action

• In line with California Desert Conservation Act plan goals and objectives.

• Minimizes ORV use in critical habitat.

• Restoration-focused implementation.

• 5,338 miles of motorized routes.

Alternative 2: Resource Conservation Enhancement

• Goals and objectives oriented to providing access through lands.

• Increased minimization strategy across all public lands and case-by-case mitigation.

• Closure-focused strategy when designating routes.

• 4,293 miles of motorized routes.

Alternative 3: Public Lands Access

(Preferred Alternative)

• Goals and objectives oriented to access for OHVs.

• Increased minimization strategy across all public lands and case-by-case mitigation.

• Less emphasis on closure as a strategy, more emphasis on alternate strategies.

• Implementation focused on enhancing the network of OHV routes.

• 10,428 miles of motorized routes.

Alternative 4: Community Access Enhancement

• Goals and objectives oriented to access for OHVs.

• Increased minimization strategy across all public lands and case-by-case mitigation.

• Balanced minimization strategy with an emphasis on closure or avoidance.

• 5,782 miles of motorized routes.

Phillip Klasky, who has been instrumental as a front man for Community ORV Watch, said he thinks the BLM’s new preferred alternative is a slap in the face to groups that want to conserve the desert’s natural beauty.

“We decided to sue them over their proposed routes in 2006 and they come back with a preferred proposal to double the amount of routes in the area,” Klasky said. “If that happens, more than 18 million people in the surrounding areas will be alerted to the fact that the Morongo Basin is a destination for off-road vehicle riders. The problem with all of these routes is that they are not connected and there is no way to get from one series to another without going through protected or private areas.”

Interactive maps of proposed routes can be found at www.blm.gov.

The deadline for comments regarding the BLM’s proposals was extended to Jan. 25, 2016, and can be emailed to cawemopa@blm.gov.

(17) comments


It's a good thing!
Long over due...

Sarah Kennington

Thanks for reporting on the BLM's proposed OHV routing system for the Mojave desert - known as the WEMO transportation plan. It's critical that Basin residents submit comments to BLM to express your experiences with the negative impacts illegal OHV riders have on our neighborhoods and special places. Let the BLM know that OHVs should not be allowed to access county roads - this is a big problem in the checker-boarded areas where BLM land interfaces with private property - causing conflicts in our rural residential communities. The Community OHV Watch website is a great place to understand how to access BLM's maps and get guidelines for commenting - go to: orvwatch.org. Comments need to be received by Jan. 25th, 2016 - don't delay!


They are not county roads, Sarah.

Amanda Alsoomse

I used to have a lot of trouble with with orvs, they thought my property was their playground. I put a stop to it. Now they don't cut through anymore and I don't see them at all, I guess the DA and Bert Swift got the message through to them, that they couldn't hear from me.

To keep out the odd stray vehicle, a little clever planning and a good look at google earth to identify my best points of defense have resulted in a setup that is completely legal. Not only won't orvers mess with trying to cross, they can't unless they pick up their machine and carry it 300 yards. I love to see them run right up to the edge of my defenses and then turn around and skulk away like whipped hound dogs when they see what their choices are. They see the permanency and never return. This is all very low budget using repurposed organic materials that abound in the high desert. No plants or animals are harmed in the creation of the defenses.

I am happy to share my strategies with anyone who needs protection from orv hoodlums. Protecting washes and hillsides is my specialty!!

Bye, bye devastators!!

Amanda Alsoomse

Here are a few things to think about when you are composing your letter to the BLM opposing the increase of trails.

Increasing access for orv enthusiasts will flood my neighborhood with urbanites who will think the increase in trail miles is an open invitation to come and ride in my neighborhood. This will drive local property prices down and we are already in the middle of a serious struggle to preserve our peace and quiet that can only worsen if the current restrictions on riding in my neighborhood are lifted.

In addition, adding more miles to existing trails on the heels of the signing of the vitally important international agreement to stop global warming is counterproductive and compromises the future of our descendants. It is baffling that the BLM can unilaterally act in direct opposition to the climate accord, by encouraging increased use of internal combustion engines as a form of recreation, when we should be cutting emissions by ending needless vehicle trips.

More strongly stated, the preferred alternative is a kind of government-sanctioned environmental-classism in which environmental damage will be imposed upon a community that is already struggling economically in order to offer recreational opportunities to the wealthy. To open this area up further means attracting people rich enough to afford the equipment needed to haul their gas-burning toys around and inflicting the damage on poor folks.

If we have to attract rich folks from the city who have second or third homes here, at least let's get the ones in here who will leave some land intact for the future, because they will clearly never see that keeping two or three homes in this world where so many have no home, is a social injustice.

Clearly, the BLM cannot adequately administer and protect the lands that are currently under assault by illegal off road activity. Adding more trails will only increase the number of incursions and the amount of damage.


Coming to a neighborhood near you... Electric dirt bikes!


@ Sarah:

The dirt roads in the unincorporated areas of our Basin are not county roads! They are all easements that belong to the property owners themselves. It is the property owners, and only the property owners, who maintain them and many of the property owners, use their off road vehicles to do it. Additionally, most of those property owners must haul their own water and they use unregistered vehicles to do that.

Those dirt roads are the property owner’s responsibility and no one else’s. They have every right to drive their off road vehicles or even their motorized barstools on them if they want, but no one has the right to do so irresponsibly or discourteously in anyone’s neighborhood… period!


The dirt roads in this community are maintained at our personal cost, with no assistance from the county or BLM. It's my right to post my property, it's my right to keep offroaders from using access to the road in front of my two driveways. When the county or BLM wants to take control of maintaining the roads to our parcels, when they take responsibility and compensate my family and my neighbors for the damage done by offroaders, then I'll shut up and sit down. Until then....no off roader access to BLM land will be considered thru this small mountain community of property owners.


@ desertgal:

@ desertgal:

"...small mountain community..."?
If your property is not one of the Morongo Basin's original "desert homestead" parcels, you do not have a federal patent deed to your land and you do not own an easment. Yours would not be a road I'd know anything about.

Amanda Alsoomse

In any event, these orvs should all have insurance, the drivers should be licensed and should post bonds against damage. They should also have giant identification letters/numbers that the cops can trace.


This is a huge benefit to our community. Not only do they increase the property value by buying weekend homes, they spend lots of money at local businesses from improving their property, hiring local help like electricians, plumbers, fence builders, etc, but they also buy food from our stores, gas from our gas stations, and get their stuff fixed by local mechanics. Instead of drug users moving in or people wanting to buy the land to grow crops of weed, they are there to use the BLM land which... by the way is for all of us. So unless you know of a better way of getting people with $$$ to come into our community and spend money and increase property value... you should consider this a good thing. Yes they should abide by the rules, and I agree they should pay for their off road registration (which does have their information like a license plate).


good ideas. if we can get the tourist to come into town and eat, sleep, spend money and look around without walking or driving on our sand we all would be better off. kinda like we like your money but nothing else. make the whole basin a national park and send everyone packing.


mike......our property is an original homestead since improved.....what else do you have to offer? Take note that the county has no authority over our private dirt roads in regards to maintenance, or liability....therefore until they take responsibility, no off roaders!!!!!


@ desertgal:

I like signs! Posting your private property provides you the opportunity to let others know something they might not otherwise know i.e. private property, no hunting, no fishing, no trespassing, no off-roading etc. Most people would willingly respect your wishes but are likely not to know what they are, except by signage. Proper signage also provides law enforcement the ability to enforce your wishes regarding your private property, using sanctions if need be.

But, you cannot legally block anyone from traveling a legitimate road easement even if that section of the road easement is yours… and even if you hate the guy and the horse he rode in on!

In any case, your property including the easement as called out on your patent deed only extends to the center of the road anyway (assuming the road is where it’s supposed to be, sometimes they’re not). But by all means, post away. It’s a good thing. At the very least it might get there attention, eh?

Did you know that County Code Enforcement has a team dedicated to off-road issues? If you have an urgent problem call them first, they can usually respond promptly. The sheriff may be busy with murders and bank robbers. Of course nothing should preclude anyone from striking up a friendly conversation with an errant off-roader, could make all the difference.

You can also contact the Friends of Giant Rock off-road club. They’ve had some pretty good success slowing riders down in an otherwise quiet neighborhood. They’d be glad to help if they can, (fogr.com)


Thank you Sarah for posting the info re the ORV Watch website, which has the update as to how and where to write letters, as well as additional follow ups:
"The Community OHV Watch [dot com] website is a great place to understand how to access BLM's maps and get guidelines for commenting - go to: orvwatch.org. Comments need to be received by Jan. 25th, 2016 - don't delay!"
As some have noted elsewhere, the BLM has a way of "losing" letters and "forgetting" to enter them into the official record. So working with ORV Watch is a great way t ensure that you word gets heard. Give BLM and their vindictive "preferred option" the boot - because hte people and the COURTS have already spoken! Obey the LAW already , BLM!
PS - the local sheriffs officers assured me that they DO appreciate neighbors calling in whenever and wherever illegal ORV'ers are riding - including roads (ALL are illegal), government land, and any private land they don't have specific permission to ride. Even if officers can't come out, those calls enter their logs and show hot spots, where they focus later. And even if they come out late to check, officers ALSO often catch other riders - so call those illegal riders in to the sheriff's dispatch - they support your calls!


Victor knows better, we’ve been over this before.

Nearly all the dirt roads in Wonder Valley, Johnson Valley and Landers are on easements belonging, IN PERPETUITY, to each five acre federal land patent parcel granted in the original Department of the Interior subdivision (see your deed). These roads are the sole responsibility of the property owners and no other. THEY ARE NOT COUNTY ROADS. These roads are on private property. They were created and are maintained by property owners who share them with a public that contributes nothing to their upkeep. How then can anyone think that a property owner who maintains the road shouldn’t be allowed to use his off-road vehicle on it? That’s total nonsense and in fact off-road vehicles are often used to help maintain the roads. Those hauling their own water often use non street legal vehicles for that as well.

Some of these roads are being called County Service Area roads. The tern is misleading THEY ARE NOT COUNTY ROADS. THE COUNTY DOE’S NOT MAINTAIN THEM. They are simply roads or portions of roads that a group of property owners agreed to have a contractor help them maintain through a transaction administered by the county. A predetermined cost for a predetermined amount of work, i.e. $20 a year to grade each road once etc. etc., is paid through a levy attached to their property tax bill. There is no County equipment or manpower involved and the County charges a substantial fee to administer the transaction. Furthermore, any work needed but not covered by the contract like interim dragging of washboard surfaces, filling of flashflood gullies and so on is still the responsibility of the property owners.

BEWARE! Community ORV Watch is a local anti-off-road group with overly zealous supporters like Mr. V trying to convince people, including law enforcement that off-road vehicles are not allowed on any dirt roads. That’s not true but they want you to think every off-roader you see is doing something illegal and you need to call a cop. They are also trying to stop the BLM from designating routes that lead to and from dirt roads even though the CHP says the vehicle code isn’t applicable on those roads. If they have their way, COW would prevent an off-roading property owner from driving to a recreation area, on the very road he maintains. In many cases, access to off-roading is one of the reasons they purchased the property in the first place. We’ve been enjoying our cabin for over 60 years, I’d hate for some activist from San Francisco to spoil it for us.


Hey Mike: NOPE.

If those roads etc were legal, the sheriffs wouldn't be able to ticket those riders which they DO. See current LAW.

And those officers can and do come out when called - and they ticket OTHER renegade riders they find en route to finding the ORIGINAL renegade riders they came out for in the first place.

"ORV use is only allowed on BLM lands that are SPECIFCALLY marked as designated for such use. AND: ORV use on private property only when riders have the explicit permission of the owner."

So, NO - those roads etc you cite so hopefully are NOT legal.

Look forward to your next ticket.

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