NEWS RELEASE: For Immediate Release Thursday, January 23,
State OHV Commission Denies $1.1M to BLM Due to Poor Dunes
SACRAMENTO -- In a historic vote today for sustainable land management, the State of California Off-Highway Vehicle Commission turned down a $1.1 million U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) funding request for Algodones (Imperial) Dunes management. The BLM has been under fire from the commission and conservationists for poor dunes management and pushing a plan to roll-back endangered species protections.
The commission did what it had to do to ensure limited state funds go to on-the-ground conservation, not environmental destruction. said Daniel R. Patterson, Desert Ecologist with the Center for Biological Diversity in Idyllwild. On-going BLM management problems at the dunes, plus a imminent plan to roll back environmental protections, convinced the commissioners not to keep throwing money at this destructive black hole.
The seven-member commission of governor and legislature appointees decides how to dole out an average of $40 million annually of state gas tax funds to support off-road vehicle (ORV) management in California. Federal agencies such as the BLM and Forest Service have mainly used the funds to increase ORV use, often causing environmental conflicts. For years, the BLM dunes request has been the largest in the state. The commission this year is favoring conservation spending to mitigate and more sustainably manage ORV use.
We applaud the OHV Commissions decision to deny BLM El Centros request for OHV Trust fund money for the Algodones Sand Dunes. said Terry Weiner, Conservation Coordinator with the Desert Protective Council in San Diego. The BLM and the Department of the Interior have refused to come up with a plan to manage the dunes for protection of rare and threatened plants and animals who live there, nor has the BLM shown an interest in promoting sustainable types of recreation at the dunes. she adds, The Commission has indicated the States desire to cease funding an agency which will not conform to the principles of sound recreation and resource management.
BLM was fully funded $292,000 by the commission last month for law enforcement. Overall, the agency received 21% of its original $1.4 million request. The lack of funding brings in to question implementation of BLMs controversial management plan to open 85% of the Algodones Dunes to ORVs. The dunes host an amazing community of rare imperiled and endemic species, including the Peirsons milkvetch, flat-tailed horned lizard, desert tortoise, Algodones Dunes sunflower, and Andrews dunes scarab beetle.