With funding in hand, the Eastern Sierra Adventure Trails Group is entering the final stages of implementing AB 628, the pilot adventure trails program in Inyo County.
Volunteer groups are currently working with the U.S. Forest Service to build information kiosks in and around local ATV recreation sites and a series of public meetings to gather input from residents before final implementation are on the horizon.
AB 628 is legislation that will allow licensed drivers (or riders) of green-sticker vehicles to travel up to 10 miles on county and city-owned roads. The goal is to allow OHV recreators to travel from ATV recreation areas to local communities for amenities such as food and fuel.
“We’ve got funding through the Green Sticker Trust Fund this year because of AB 628,” said Adventure Trails Group member Randy Gillespie.
The Adventure Trails Group was awarded $68,000 in Green Sticker funding in July, along with the Inyo County Sheriff’s Department, which received $103,000 for patrol and enforcement of the AB 628 rules, and Inyo County, which received $825,000
“There’s over $1 million coming into Inyo County because of AB 628,” and the Adventure Trails program isn’t even up and running yet, Gillespie said, adding that once the pilot program gets going, local businesses should begin seeing an economic impact as OHV recreators begin using in-town services.
“Our goal is to get the Adventure Trails Program up and running by the end of this summer,” Gillespie said. “Once we get it started, it should go pretty fast and people are going to start seeing our logo going up,” first on local trails in ATV recreation areas, then on county and streets and roads that are open for OHV travel.
Steve Toomey, who is running the implementation side of the Adventure Trails Project, said he is currently using funds from last year’s Green Sticker Grant to get to work building kiosks and placing signs in off-road recreation areas.
Working with the U.S. Forest Service, Toomey constructed kiosks on Death Valley and Mazourka Canyon roads last week, and will be eying Bishop’s East Side Road in the near future.
The kiosks will provide recreators with a brief introduction to the Adventure Trails Program, and outline some of the rules associated with it.
For the kiosks, which are all located on Forest Service property, Toomey said the Forest Service is providing the materials and the Adventure Trails Group is providing the labor.
Once the kiosks are up, Toomey said he will be seeking approval from the Forest Service to begin placing trail marker signs in recreation areas that will show residents and visitors the difficulty of each individual route, what kinds of vehicles are recommended for the route (side-by-sides, trucks or dirt bikes, or any combination of the three) and how to identify the route in the California Trail User Map.
“We just want to give people a point of origin because they’re going to be 10 miles out in the middle of nowhere,” Toomey said. “So these are going to be big confidence markers.”
Once the markers are up, the next step will be to hold a final series of public meetings to gather input from citizens before ATVs start traveling on county streets and roads.
Gillespie pointed out that just because Adventure Trails markers are going up on off-road routes does not mean residents can begin driving their quad down county roads. County and city-maintained streets and roads will not be open for OHV travel until after the public meetings, at which point Adventure Trails signs will be posted on the applicable routes.
“People are going to start seeing those signs soon,” said Advocates for Access to Public Lands President Dick Noles, adding that he believes the project will be an “economic and recreational” benefit to the Eastern Sierra that will draw recreators to the area and keep them coming back.