Bishop leaders took the first step towards approving a system of roads inside the city limits that will be available to off-highway vehicles.
The City Council approved a draft map of local streets and roads that could be used for the proposed Adventure Trails system, which will allow green-sticker OHV’s with licensed drivers to travel up to 10 miles on paved roads to travel between OHV recreation areas and amenities in town.
“This is for the environmental process the county is going through,” City Administrator Keith Caldwell said. “The plan is to have this draft map be part of a bigger environmental document the county is funding. The city can piggy-back on the county’s document, so this is at no cost to the city.”
Caldwell said the draft map includes every road in the city, but when the plan is complete, only a few routes will be incorporated into the route system.
Before project leaders
from the Advocates for Access to Public Lands begin proposing routes for the system, a number of local meetings will be held to gather public input on what city roads should be included and which are inappropriate for the system.
Council Member Laura Smith pointed out that, as the public process progresses, AAPL will be systematically removing inappropriate roads from the map, but she wanted to know if roads could be added if residents want to include them in the final system.
Bishop resident Dick Noles, who developed the Adventure Trails plan and worked with county supervisors and local law enforcement to make the idea a reality, said the pilot project has a number of built-in safety features, including a 35 mile-per-hour speed limit and a no night-time driving rule for all OHVs on county roads.
The Center for Biological Diversity and Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility filed a lawsuit earlier this year in which they claim county leaders did not adequately address environmental concerns.
In the lawsuit filed in California Superior Court Wednesday, the two conservation organizations challenged the county’s approval of the procedure that would allow green-sticker vehicles, which are not typically legal for street use, to use county roads without the environmental review required by California law.
“This is the sad part of our world,” Noles has said. “These people want to stop everything. I’m merely trying to organize ATV (all-terrain vehicle) recreation in Inyo County and the California Highway Patrol, chambers of commerce, Sheriff’s Department and the county have all signed off on it.”
With the CHP and Sheriff’s Department on board, Noles said, residents can rest assured that green-sticker vehicles utilizing county roads will be policed.
Noles said that the Adventure Trails system is not designed to open more off-road opportunities for ATV recreators, as the U.S. Forest Service’s Travel Management Plan already outlines where users can recreate.
His goal is to get ATV users from those federally recognized OHV-friendly areas into population centers for food, fuel and other amenities. “We’re not asking for new roads, we’re not making roads and we’re not trying to go places we shouldn’t,” Noles said. “We’re just trying to bring ATV recreation into the 21st century, like Arizona and Utah” and other states that have similar programs in place in rural communities.
As staff from Inyo County addresses the law suit, AAPL continues to plan for the route system and meet with citizens to discuss what roads are appropriate for off-highway vehicle use in their communities.