Supervisors join forces with Yuma over dunes

February 07, 2001|By RUDY YNIGUEZ, Staff Writer

Seeking to gain strength in numbers, the county Board of Supervisors agreed to join efforts with county supervisors from Yuma and others in efforts to reverse the closures of local sand dunes.

The idea was broached at Tuesday's board meeting during the public comment period by Ken Rosevear, executive director of the Yuma County Chamber of Commerce.

"We are proposing that we muster our forces in the two communities to try to put the brakes on this process," he said.

Rosevear is a former Imperial County resident and past president of the El Centro Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Bureau. He said if one looks at a map of the areas closed or proposed to be closed, it amounts to what appears to be a majority of the sand dunes area.


"The Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area seem to be closing faster than we can even address the problem," he said. "This is a tremendous impact to our community."

Rosevear said conversations with environmentalists have led him to believe the closure of sand dunes areas due to Peirson's milkvetch is one in a line of issues to be addressed.

"We feel, at least from the Yuma side of it is, what their purpose is is total closure to all the off-road vehicles," he said. "That becomes a catastrophic situation for Imperial County and Yuma County."

He called the pending closure of 54,000 acres east of Highway 78 to camping "an unmanageable situation" for holiday weekend visitors.

Rosevear's offer was quickly taken up by the board.

Supervisors Chairman Tony Tirado suggested the two counties boards meet at the committee level to discuss the closures.

"To me it is obvious that some closures are necessary, but others are not in the best interest of the community," he said.

Supervisor Wally Leimgruber, who was appointed to the committee along with Supervisor Hank Kuiper, said his main concern is that as areas are closed people are crowded into smaller areas.

"This is unacceptable," he said.

Leimgruber is also a member of the QuadState County Government Coalition, whose executive director is a longtime friend of the new secretary of the Interior, Gale Norton. He said the local closures will be an issue to be discussed with Norton in the near future.

Other potential coalition members include the Imperial Valley Joint Chambers of Commerce and the Coalition of Labor, Agriculture and Business of Imperial County.

Urging the board to take action was William F. Rapier, general manager of Corporate Mineral Resources, who said his company has been trying to get mining permits in the Coyote Mountains from the U.S. Bureau of Land Management since the mid-1980s with no success due to an alleged endangered species that he said is not present in the area. He said there have been four lawsuits filed between his company and BLM over the issue.

He said his company owns land adjacent to U.S. Gypsum in Ocotillo and it would like to open a cement company there.

He said county areas should be open to multiple uses and not just selective uses.

Staff Writer Rudy Yniguez can be reached at 337-3440.

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