Local advocates for access to public lands hit a speed bump recently with their dual-access route program, but the team is determined to motor on.
The nonprofit group Advocates for Access to Public Lands is working on a plan called the Eastern Sierra Adventure Trails System that will allow licensed drivers to take green-sticker vehicles on state and county roads to reach off-road destinations.
An initial step in the process was to have the three-mile limit on dual access extended to eight miles, which would allow Bishop residents to drive their ATVs on paved roads to access areas such as the Buttermilk Boulders that are more than three miles from the city.
President of AAPL Dick Noles said that a recent proposition to extend the limit for dual access routes was shot down by the governor last month.
But Noles said he and AAPL are not deterred, and will continue working with local communities to identify roads that can be used for dual access without extending past three miles.
Noles said AAPL will be working in Lone Pine, Big Pine and Independence, but is holding off on mapping routes in Bishop, because there are few recreational areas within three miles of the city.
“We have met with the county Road Department, sheriff, CHP and laid out a plan to meet the intent of the vehicle code with the three-mile limitation,” Noles said. “Right now we’re asking the businesses in the communities and residents what they want in this plan.”
Beginning in November, AAPL will host public meetings in Lone Pine, Independence and Bishop to hear ideas and recommendations from citizens on what routes should be designated as dual use.
The dual-use routes must be within three miles of recreational opportunities and services such as fuel and food.
“ATV recreation is here, it’s all around us,” Noles said. “Hundreds of millions come her top play, so lets fix it for them. I want to see ATVs in these towns.”
Noles pointed out that communities in Utah, Arizona and West Virginia are already working on or have completed similar projects that clearly define what surface streets are available for dual use and, as one of California’s most popular destinations, it is time for Inyo County to get on board.
When complete, state and county roads that are incorporated into the Adventure Trails System will be marked by signs, will be identified on maps that will be made available to everyone, and will be marked on GPS systems, making it easy for anyone to identify what routes are available to green-sticker ATVs.
Lone Pine resident and disabled veteran Bruce Cotton said he appreciated AAPL and the county’s support of the Adventure Trails System and said he had his own plans if the system gets off the ground.
“I hope we can keep going and get through this,” Cotton said. “If we can, the first thing I’m going to do is go to the disabled veterans and try to get them out on the trails.”