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LETTERS TO THE TIMES

Some Off-Roaders Stay on Straight and Narrow

August 11, 2004

Your Aug. 7 editorial, "Off-Roading Loses Its Way," is both timely and important. As a frequent desert traveler, I am even more aware of the extensive damage done by off-road vehicle use in the open spaces of southern and eastern California. The controversies surrounding ORV use in the Imperial County dunes appear in the news almost daily. Less well known are the intrusions into designated wilderness areas in the Ridgecrest area, where motorized transport is forbidden by congressional legislation.

Similarly, many areas in Imperial County have regulations requiring motorized vehicles to stay on designated roads, but in fact the deserts there more nearly resemble open play areas where riders roam at will. I have spent many days assisting the Bureau of Land Management in placing signs and in covering and disguising illegal roads.

Efforts of this sort are clearly not enough. Your conclusion that the land agencies need both direction and financing to regulate off-road vehicle use is commendable.

Craig Deutsche

Los Angeles

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As a responsible four-wheeler, I am aware of those four-wheelers who sometimes stray from the trail, bringing bad press and the threat of land closures nearer to our sport.

Originally, my wife and I became interested in back country exploring by way of hiking, mountain biking and kayaking several years ago. But now that my wife developed systemic lupus two years ago, we must tour these same areas we once biked behind a screen of UV A/B window film in my '03 Wrangler Rubicon. The vehicle can take us places we had once written off. When we travel, we exercise caution and respect for the environment.

Vandals who are seen ripping into the countryside can now be reported with little more than the physical description of their vehicle and a license plate number -- something you failed to mention. The people who are caught destroying our national parks can be charged a fine, can face possible imprisonment and can be charged a fee to re-vegetate the areas they are caught destroying.

The desert tortoises you mentioned being attacked by our knobby tires are in fact being harmed by raven predation.

Ken and Suzanne Cooke

Riverside

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