High Desert Residents Aim To Curb Illegal Off-Roading

Residents Hold Public Hearing With Law Enforcement And BLM To Discuss Changes

JOSHUA TREE - Some residents in the high desert are fed up with illegal off-roaders. They called a public forum with law enforcement and Bureau of Land Management to discuss how to curb the problem.

Phil Klasky calls the open desert in Yucca Valley, Joshua Tree and Twentynine Palms the wild west of off-road riding.

Klasky is a member of Community ORV Watch, a group to help curb illegal riding.

?I know residents who are leaving town because they don?t want to have to be near the off-road vehicles that regularly cause dust, noise nuisance and trespass on our private and public lands,? said Klasky.

According to Klasky, illegal riding costs residents thousands of dollars to repair their property, and thousands more of their tax dollars to repair public land.

But he said members aren?t reporting illegal riders because off-roaders have harassed and retaliated against them by posting private and inflammatory statements on the blogs.

Ray Pessa heads the group Friends of Giant Rock, the group accused of the harassment.

According to Pessa, he?s talked to his members about the alleged harassment.

?We talk to them and we hand out paperwork to them and we tell them that they?re being a problem for a particular resident and nine times out of ten, they?re understanding,? said Pessa.

According to the San Bernardino County Sheriff?s Department the number of reported illegal off-road riding has declined the past four years. Not because people are afraid but because deputy?s now have the resources for more frequent patrols.

?Occasionally we will get a call from somebody who feels they?ve been the victim of retaliation based on a complaint made by about illegal OHV activity,? said Porter. ?However those calls are extremely rare, I can?t remember the last time we had one.?

Klasky would also like to see some other changes to state and county code, like higher fines, license plates for off-road vehicles and a moratorium on large scale off-road races like August?s California 200, were eight people died after a vehicle crashed into the crowd.

There are several state and county designated off-road riding areas, including one of the California?s largest, Johnson Valley.

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