Taking of desert land for off-road use near dry lake hits barricade - Pirate4x4.Com : 4x4 and Off-Road Forum
 
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Old 05-31-2003, 10:16 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Taking of desert land for off-road use near dry lake hits barricade

Taking of desert land for off-road use near dry lake hits barricade

State parks and recreation officials withdraw funding
By MATT BENDER, Staff Writer
ADELANTO - Plans to seize private property near El Mirage Dry Lake to add to an offroad-vehicle area are on hold after a state decision to withhold grant money for the plan.
Officials at the state Department of Parks and Recreation decided they didn't want to use state money to pay for the seizures, said Steve Capps, an assistant deputy director.

"When we found out that it was being done, we put a stop to the grants,' Capps said.

County spokesman David Wert said San Bernardino County, which authorized condemnation proceedings on the land in December, is waiting for clear instructions from the state as to how to proceed.

At a public hearing the Board of Supervisors held in December, several property owners said they bought the land in the 1970s and made installment payments for 10 years.

They said they were told that an international airport was planned for the area.

That prediction never came true, but the property owners said they were determined to hold onto their land or at least make what they considered a fair profit.

In many cases, it was the county's proposed price that was the sticking point for landowners, said Eugene O'Donnell, 44, of Lancaster, who protested on behalf of his mother-in-law, Verna Dickinson, also of Lancaster.

"I think most of the landowners (would have agreed to sell) if the county of San Bernardino would have come to terms on the price of the land,' O'Donnell said.

The county had acted, Capps said, before state parks officials were informed that their predecessors had approved use of eminent domain to acquire some of the land, if necessary.

They made a policy decision in December to put the brakes on the state grants, Capps said.

"We're still working with (the U.S. Bureau of Land Management), and we're working to consider grant applications for what's called a willing condemnation process,' Capps said.

In January, state law was changed to forbid the use of state money for such purposes, officials said.

Karen Schambach, California coordinator for Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, a Washington-based advocacy group, said using state money for such condemnation actions has been illegal for years, but that the recent revision of the law made that prohibition clearer.

"Over the last few years, people have played fast and loose with (off-highway vehicle) laws,' she charged.

Schambach said she served as a go-between, passing concerns from O'Donnell and other opponents of the condemnation along to David Widell, a deputy director at the department, who ordered the action halted.

The BLM wanted to acquire the vacant land in part because it was already being used by off-roaders. There are no signs or fences demarcating where public land ends and where private parcels begin, said Mark Conley, the off-highway vehicle program manager in the BLM's Sacramento office.

"If you're an off-road vehicle enthusiast, you wouldn't even know where the private lands are,' Conley said.

About 80 percent of the private land in the 25,000-acre area governed by the agreement has already been bought, he said.

BLM spokeswoman Jan Bedrosian said that because the agreement was a memorandum of understanding, not a contract, the state could legally back out of that provision.

Wert emphasized that the county was simply carrying out its responsibilities under the agreement.

Meanwhile, Dickinson, 73, is grateful for her son-in-law's lobbying efforts.

"I owe that boy big time, I tell you,' she said.

http://www.sbsun.com/Stories/0,1413,...426032,00.html
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Old 05-31-2003, 01:28 PM   #2 (permalink)
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i hope the folks are able to get a "fair value" for the property and i hope that they agree to sell and see the land go to the park.
odd story

kinda funny how the thing sized up but puttin the brakes on seems correct
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Old 06-01-2003, 12:42 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Why am I not surprised that Georgetown, CA based Karen Schambach's name popped up. Lest anyone forget, she's the most strident voice advocating the closure of all unpaved roads in the Eldorado National Forest.
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Old 06-01-2003, 07:22 PM   #4 (permalink)
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seems that she is an opertunist
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Old 06-01-2003, 10:22 PM   #5 (permalink)
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She is everywhere. Very involved with the closures at Glamis via Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) - http://www.peer.org/

PEER’s California field office opened in May of 1998 to work with state environmental employees. Karen Schambach, Coordinator of California PEER, has a strong track record as an activist in off-road vehicle and forestry issues. Karen has a Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Studies, and worked as a paralegal specializing in employment law prior to becoming PEER’s California representative. As a volunteer for various environmental groups she gained extensive experience with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), as well as experience working with agency whistle blowers.

An organization she founded in 1986 (Center for Sierra Nevada Conservation) has had a strong influence on environmental polices on the Eldorado National Forest. The group’s challenge to California’s guidelines for the state’s off–road vehicle program resulted in a new regulation package.
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