To please the off-road lobby, BLM allows huge mobs of off-roaders on the border in the Algodones Dunes, attracting dangerous smugglers who easily mix with crowds
TUCSON -- I'm proud to say a critical story about border security first covered by this blog on Jan 23 is the top story on the front page of today's Los Angeles Times.
Does it make any sense to you that off-roaders are allowed unlimited access on the border in the dunes, but other conservation areas such as Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge are closed to public use for safety concerns?
It's clear that the dunes remain open to off-roaders, while other border lands are closed, due to the Bush/Cheney administration's politics of doing everything it can to serve the reckless, dangerous and polluting off-road lobby.
BLM and off-road lobbyists such as the American Sand Association risk the safety and security of law enforcement and the public by opposing keeping off-roaders north of I-8.
from today's front page LA Times article...
"It's a honey hole" for smugglers, said Border Patrol Agent Quinn Palmer, an agency spokesman, who said keeping track of the cross-border traffic is "logistically impossible." "We have thousands of people out here on a busy weekend with no clearly defined border," he said.
Richard Pierce, executive vice president of the National Border Patrol Council, the union that represents agents, said the enforcement strategy makes no sense. "To say we're trying to secure the border and then leave that area populated . . . is a joke. For the safety of the Border Patrol agents involved, those campers need to be moved north of the interstate," Pierce said.
Even some off-road enthusiasts question the current policy. Many have had brushes with border bandits and smugglers, or have seen pursuits through the dunes.
Lee Dove, an attorney who visits about twice a month, once saw a smuggler flash a weapon and said he sympathized with the Border Patrol's mission.
"If they were really serious about shutting down the traffic, they'd have to do something," Dove said. "I don't see how you can really enforce the border unless they have a no-drive zone from the border inland."
Luis Sanchez, a plumber from Tucson who rides the dunes with his wife and daughters, thinks closing the dunes to improve national security is a reasonable trade-off.
"There's plenty of other places to ride . . . with miles and miles of dunes," Sanchez said.
Read the story.