Monday, November 27, 2006

ORVs damage desert, kill 4, at Yuma-area dunes

YUMA AZ -- Out-of-control off-road vehicle (ORV) madness and motorhead mayhem again at the Algodones Sand Dunes in the Sonoran Desert of Imperial County CA. Observers also reported off-road violations of protected areas for endangered species and wilderness values.

* adapted from the Yuma Sun, Nov 26 06.

Fatal accidents mark holiday weekend at dunes


Four people died in accidents in and around the Imperial San Dunes Recreation Area during the Thanksgiving holiday that saw crowds of about 180,000 people, officials said Sunday.

Lines of recreational vehicles could be seen about a mile long Sunday as the mass exodus of revelers left the sand dunes west of Yuma. But for the most part, officials said, it was a routine holiday season at the dunes, a popular spot for dirtbikes, sand rails, bonfires and of course, beer.

"It was about the usual crowd of 180,000 people," said Steve Razo with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, which manages the area.

"That’s typical for a holiday weekend..."

The popular spot challenges authorities because many of the injuries occur far away from major roads, out in the expansive hills of sand.

Joe Miller, a spokesman for the California Highway Patrol, said the El Centro CHP station handled three fatal accidents in and around the dunes, and there was one on Interstate 8, which cuts through the area.

There were also 26 drunken driving arrests involving motorists in and around the dunes and on the highway, Miller said.

"It was busy," Miller said. "We had a lot of DUIs."

U.S. Border Patrol agents were also out in the dunes, including the agency’s Border Search Trauma and Rescue Team (BORSTAR), said agent Lloyd Easterling.

"With so many people out there on the dunes, they (agents) are out there for two reasons," Easterling said. "First, it might might be easier for smugglers to get through and blend in with the crowds. ... (Second) they are an asset because of their medical experience."

Razo said the crowd and the number of medical or enforcement actions were a little smaller compared to last year’s.

Still, the riders kept BLM officers busy. There were 131 medical calls and 753 law enforcement actions, which included tickets for safety violations, drunken driving and other violations. In one incident, BLM officers gave a drunk-in-public citation to an off-duty corrections officer, and in another area, officers had to break up a large group that was beginning to become unruly, Razo said...

"They’re crazy," a Yuma woman said of the riders. "They like to show off their toys."

Will she come back be back?

"Maybe, but when it not so packed," she said. "There were a lot of drunk people..."

*

Great family fun, Bush BLM big oil style.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

I love this part:

"U.S. Border Patrol agents were also out in the dunes, including the agency’s Border Search Trauma and Rescue Team (BORSTAR), said agent Lloyd Easterling.

'With so many people out there on the dunes, they (agents) are out there for two reasons,' Easterling said. 'First, it might be easier for smugglers to get through and blend in with the crowds'."

If the Border Patrol openly admits that the enormous crowds at the dunes allow smugglers to sneak into the U.S., doesn't that mean the BLM's refusal to limit the number of vehicles at the dunes is a national security risk?

DRP said...

Yes, it is a security risk, especially south of I-8. Smugglers are known to cross at the dunes on ATVs on these mobbed weekends.

Seems off-road lobby greed trumps homeland security for the Bush admin. at the dunes.

mike moore said...

Hey Dan, lets see, you are against putting up a fence to keep illegal aliens out of the US,because it might interrupt the "ecology" of the area,even though it might prevent a national security issue,(obviously plants and animals are very important to you) but you would like to close the dunes to legal users adjacent to the border because of possible illegal immigration activity and the associated security risk? Are you advocating a sort of DMZ or buffer zone on this side of the border that can be patrolled by the Border patrol? This is a stretch even for you, but hey its a free country, you can think and write what you want, even if it is silly. Mike in Vegas. ps, I will still buy you lunch when you are in Vegas sometime, I'll try to make sure we don't chow down on some endangered plant.lol