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BLM receives $8.3 million from state

Money to benefit OHV sites, campgrounds near Barstow

BARSTOW • Visitors to off-highway vehicle sites and campgrounds managed by the Bureau of Land Management’s Barstow field office may soon see a few changes to their favorite spots.

BLM’s California Desert District received about $8.3 million in grants from California’s Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Program on Thursday, according to a release. The funds will go toward the operation and maintenance of OHV areas, the support of programs in the Dumont Dunes, El Mirage and Imperial Sand Dunes recreation areas, as well as increased law enforcement in those areas.

Mickey Quillman, chief of resources at BLM’s Barstow Field Office, said out of 3.2 million acres the field offices manages, OHV recreation areas include Stoddard Wells, Johnson Valley, El Mirage, Dumont Dunes and Rasor. There are also miles of open trails outside these areas that off-roaders can use.

Quillman said each BLM office writes grant proposals outlining their needs when competing for state motor vehicle recreation program grants. Whoever comes up with the best program, he said, is going to get a portion of the money. Much of the OHV grant money is used for things BLM wouldn’t normally have the budget or time for, Quillman said. This includes marking designated OHV trails with new signs and disguising blazed trails with vegetation or rocks.

“We’ll do vegetation planting and put rocks out there just to make sure people don’t think (it’s) a road,” Quillman said, adding that BLM will put volunteers from the California Conservation Corp and other organizations to work. “We’ll make sure it looks like normal desert again.”

David Briery, BLM spokesman for the California Desert District, said the grant money from the state’s OHV recreation program partially comes from green-sticker fees off-roaders pay to the state to register their vehicles. Funding for OHV grants also come from fuel taxes from off-road vehicles and fees collected at state vehicular recreation areas. Briery said the state OHV program also distributes grants to organizations such as Friends of El Mirage, which also operates on BLM land.

About $1.3 million of the grant money will be used to maintain public safety. Quillman said the money will be used go towards enhanced law enforcement at the different OHV recreation areas. Grant money also paid for a new helipad for rescue helicopters at Dumont Dunes. The extra law enforcement and BLM paramedics and search and rescue personnel will be able to maintain public safety during BLM’s major weekends, Halloween, Christmas, New Years and President’s Day.

Other uses for the grant money include upgrading Owl Canyon Campground with new barbecues, fire rings and shelters. Grant money will also be used for the junior ranger program at the El Mirage Dry Lake OHV Recreation Area.

“We’ll have somebody come out there with live animals that you typically find in the desert,” Quillman said. “(They’ll) talk about recycling, trash pickup and what you can do in the desert.”

Representatives from the California Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Program were unavailable to answer questions Friday due to state furloughs.

Contact the writer:
(760) 256-4123 or jcejnar@desertdispatch.com


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