County asks state for law enforcement assistance at Imperial Sand Dunes

December 05, 2001|By LAURA MITCHELL, Staff Writer

The county Board of Supervisors has asked the state for law enforcement assistance at the Imperial Sand Dunes.

The board made the request at the supervisors' meeting Tuesday.

The request follows the Thanksgiving holiday weekend where, according to the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, 190,000 visitors at the dunes were overseen by 35 law enforcement officers. Several problems arose in the dunes that weekend, including a gunfight and stabbings.

The resolution by Supervisor Wally Leimgruber stated law enforcement at the Imperial Sand Dunes has become inadequate considering the number of visitors.

All the supervisors supported the resolution. Supervisor Gary Wyatt, though, said he did not think it went far enough.

"I'm not sure what this will accomplish except to say ‘help,'" Wyatt said.

The BLM says 300 officers are needed to patrol the dunes, he said. The county sheriff says 500 to 600 people are needed but Wyatt said he thinks the chances are pretty slim of getting that.


The county is looking at the possibility of getting help from the National Guard and trained volunteers who would be the eyes and ears of law enforcement, Wyatt said.

Also at the meeting, a resolution by Supervisor Joe Maruca opposing permanent land fallowing, which would remove agricultural land from farming activities to save water, was delayed.

Supervisors Leimgruber, Wyatt and Hank Kuiper said they wanted to wait until the Imperial Irrigation District releases an environmental assessment on fallowing.

The district expects to have the environmental report Jan. 11, IID board President Andy Horne said.

The hotly debated fallowing issue was proposed by the Salton Sea Authority to save the sea if the IID-San Diego County water transfer deal goes through.

Staff Writer Laura Mitchell can be reached at 337-3452 or

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