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BLM urges safety in the sand dunes
Duners may want to keep an eye out for ghosts and goblins while they are out enjoying all the hills and thrills at the Imperial Sand Dunes.
“Halloween is the traditional start of the dune season,” said David Briery, of the Bureau of Land Management's California Desert District. “It is a huge family affair and kids go from RV to RV trick or treating.”
With hundreds of thousands of duners expected to hit the sand after a summer away from dunes, BLM officials want to remind everyone that safety always comes first.
“We look forward to the thousands of visitors having a fun, safe season,” said Margaret Goodro, BLM El Centro Field manager. “The start of the season is a perfect time to remind folks to stay safe and have a great ride.”
As part of the safety effort, the El Centro Field Office will add a new twist to its continuing education and outreach program by distributing thousands of brightly colored Frisbees sporting safety messages.
These messages, according to Briery, remind visitors of the danger of carbon monoxide poisoning, encourage them to wear seat belts/harnesses both on and off road, and to slow down to 15 mph within 50 feet of camps or people.
Neil Hamada, Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area manager, also encourages visitors to be especially cautious, of both the crowds and the constantly changing terrain.
“Visitors should take care to scout areas for drop-offs that may not have been there last season,” Hamada said.
ATV safety certification training will be offered free of charge to California residents between 6 and 17 years old on Oct. 29 and 30 at both the north and south dunes, and on Oct. 29 at Superstition Mountain in the west desert.
Briery added that there is no increase in the cost of a permit this season. Permits purchased at the sand dunes will again cost $120, while weekly permits are $40. He noted that safety flags are required on all off-highway vehicles, as is proper riding gear and registration. Glass beverages are also prohibited at the sand dunes and riding under the influence is illegal.
Also, effective Oct. 21, the BLM will lift its campfire restrictions on all BLM-managed public lands in Southern California within the California Desert Conservation Area (CDCA).
BLM-managed lands in Los Angeles, San Bernardino, San Diego and western Riverside County that are designated as “State Responsibility Areas” remain under Stage II restrictions. Those areas only permit campfires within approved fire pits and grills in developed recreational sites.
“Because we have declared our fire season over, the public will not be required to obtain a campfire permit throughout the CDCA,” said Teri Raml, California Desert District manager. “However, campers still are required to provide proper clearance of flammable fuels to a minimum of five feet and to have a shovel or other extinguishing tools readily available.”
The following elements of fire prevention remain in place and are prohibited:
• Use/ignition of all fireworks
• Possession or discharge of a firearm using incendiary, tracer, steel core, or armor-piercing ammunition
• Ignition or burning of any tire, petroleum product, wires, magnesium, or any other hazardous or explosive materials
• All off-road vehicles being operated on public lands must be equipped with a properly installed spark arrester, and are required at all times throughout the year
Any person who knowingly and willfully violates the regulations shall upon conviction, be subject to a fine of not more than $1,000, imprisonment of not more than 12 months, or both.
James Gilbert can be reached at email@example.com or 539-6854.