Illegal off-roading subsides - Hi-Desert Star: News

Illegal off-roading subsides

Calls drop by one-third

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Posted: Saturday, January 7, 2012 12:19 am

MORONGO BASIN — Illegal off-roading has diminished in the past four years, data from the county Sheriff's Department suggest.

"Other than little anomalies, we have seen a dramatic decrease in number of complaints from 2007 until now," Sgt. James Porter said last month.

Complaints about motorcycle riders in county areas went from 679 in the year 2007 to 227 last year — a decrease of about a third. In Yucca Valley, complaints dropped from 388 calls in 2007 to 140 calls in 2011. In Twentynine Palms, they went from 225 calls to 127.

Five years ago, it seemed off-roading through residential areas was the norm, Porter said. Today, the scene is different. "It's getting harder and harder to find people riding off-highway vehicles in dirt-road neighborhoods," Porter said.

He largely credits education programs that reach beyond the Sheriff's Department.

"Years ago, when the problem started, we had a huge number of offenders," he acknowledged. Most of them were people who had ridden in certain neighborhoods or on dirt roads all their lives, and didn't know it was illegal.

"We see less and less of that," Porter said. "There's been a massive education push; the Bureau of Land Management, local stores, community groups: At every angle you have at the local level, someone has done something."

The visibility of the sheriff's off-road enforcement team helps, too, he said.

A group of deputies who completed specialized training and use motorcycles and four-wheel-drive vehicles, the team's members vary according to assignment and grant money. Right now, the team has five members.

"We do much more public-contact work now than we ever had in the past specifically with OHV abuse," Porter said.

"If we could educate everybody and get them riding where they should be riding, not in the neighborhoods, we would have a much more lasting impact," he explained. "So education is important."

Enforcement, on the other hand, has its limits, given the nature of this crime. "With most of the calls for service a deputy responds to, by the time we get there, the rider is gone. Even if it takes a deputy just two or three minutes to get there, the person could be two or three miles away," Porter said.

More often, the enforcement team happens on off-roaders who are riding on dirt roads or private properties. Most of the citations they write come from those contacts.

It's still important to report problem riders to the Sheriff's Department business line (not 911), he said, because the team patrols in areas where reports have been high.

Often, that's been the Yucca Mesa area, especially around Aberdeen Drive and Avalon Avenue. "When there's a lot of activity at Sunfair Dry Lake, we get calls surrounding there," Porter added.

The team is paid for with money from state OHV registration fees, funneled through a grant. The Morongo Basin sheriff's station competes with agencies throughout California for a share of the money, so the grant amount varies. This year, it's comparatively small - around $15,000, compared to around $100,000 in 2007. Porter thinks that could be linked to a decline in illegal OHV riding, and therefore public outrage.

"We've seen a wane in public interest. It's a competitive grant, and they really take in consideration the perceived problem in area," he explained.

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  • Bob Mateski posted at 8:05 pm on Fri, Mar 23, 2012.

    Bob Mateski Posts: 313

    If the numbers the writer quotes are correct then the ORV complaints have gone down by 2/3 not 1/3 as it states in the article.
    This is good news for the local community as it helps with the quality of life, the key to getting the infractions even lower is education on websites and clear signs near ORV legal areas.
    The other thing that is gradually changing is dirt bikes are now going to 4 stroke motors rather than the 2 stroke motors which sound like a chain saw on steroids, this is because 4 stroke motors are quieter and burn cleaner.
    You will still see 2 stroke bikes in the dirt but they are becoming less and less in numbers, a few are still being manufactured but overall the 2 stroke motors are eventually going to go away because of stricter emmisions laws.
    In the now famous words of that great humanitarian Rodney King "Cant we all just get along"?

  • desert lily posted at 10:03 am on Sat, Mar 17, 2012.

    desert lily Posts: 233

    There are still plenty of new tracks across my land from trespassers on ORVs. Most of them turn around and find another route, but they are still illegal on the road and many still cut right across my land as if THEY own it. It should be illegal to point a gun at them.

  • highdesertranger posted at 4:19 pm on Wed, Jan 18, 2012.

    highdesertranger Posts: 1

    ok i see the issue with dust, noise, etc. but isnt this covered under speed laws a full sieze truck going too fast down a dirt road makes more dust than a dirt bike. i believe that exsisting laws against speeding and noise would cover the complaints. to me it makes alot more sense to hop on the quad to run to the store for a loaf of bread, a gallon of milk or whatever. its much better for the enviorment. i mean my quad gets 40+ miles per gallon, my truck now were near that. i know in many areas its not only allowed but encourged. like northern nevada. eastern oregon. most of arizona, and alaska. orv's are not all bad. maybe in your area you have a problem with inconsiderate riders who dont care about how much dust or noise they make while driving past your residence but that is not orv's fault but the operators. just my two cents. highdesertranger

  • Brew posted at 8:42 am on Fri, Jan 13, 2012.

    Brew Posts: 1

    The fees quoted in the article seem to be in error. The Victor Valley Sheriffs station received a grant for $77,861 from the OHV Grants program in 2011. The $ 15,000 mentioned in the article MAY be from the "in-lieu-of" tax from registrations of off-highway registered vehicles and that goes to the county.

  • Violet posted at 6:57 am on Sun, Jan 8, 2012.

    Violet Posts: 26

    With all due respect to Law Enforcement, the area I live in on the Mesa has been besieged with young men riding dirt bikes in the wash up and down our streets. I have even seen them driving a motorized scooter with a toddler standing on it with no helmet or safety gear! I did call police a few times. Just got tired of calling them. Maybe others have been in the same situation as I. That is why the numbers are lower. We have had at least two injured males in the last 6 months rushed to hospital due to injuries from ATV or dirt bikes.

  • Dave Peach posted at 7:03 am on Sat, Jan 7, 2012.

    Dave Peach Posts: 2998

    This news is somewhat encouraging. The OHV community merits gratitude for the reduction in offenses. And it remains improper to blame a group for the deeds of individuals. Nonetheless, violators reflect badly on the groups they belong to or represent.

    "A group of deputies who completed specialized training and use motorcycles and four-wheel-drive vehicles, the team's members vary according to assignment and grant money. Right now, the team has five members."

    The sheriff's deputy who moved in next door (I really should go over and introduce myself while holding short of welcoming him to the neighborhood) is either uninformed about the law or regards his family as exempt. (northwest of Aberdeen and Wesley, to be specific and tattle-telling)

    While reluctant to infringe upon kids having fun, the noise is disruptive and the dust and fumes aggravate serious health issues; which are readily obvious to the neighbors. Reverting to bicycles while at home and reserving the motorized toys for authorized OHV areas would be more healthful for us and them.

    The recent addition of a bulldozer is slightly terrifying. Rather than risk a feud with the neighbor and/or the sheriff's department, we've resolved to curtail our recent purchase agreement and move back to the city. Other neighbors are equally amazed and upset. They can deal with the problem as they choose as well.

    As will be the seller. It was a really nice place. He will now be more hard pressed to unload it and will probably become forced to resort to foreclosure. Perhaps the sheriff's department will meanwhile intercede as appropriate and now convenient.



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