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Final tally of dunes enforcement costs

January 08, 2002|By LAURA MITCHELL, Staff Writer

The cost to bring in an incident team to manage the Imperial Sand Dunes for the New Year's holiday weekend could top $500,000.

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management will pay $425,000 for salaries and equipment for the four-day weekend, said Bruce Shaffer, BLM associate California Desert District manager. That number does not include salaries and equipment for the Imperial County Sheriff's Office and the U.S. Border Patrol.

The Sheriff's Office and the Border Patrol are paying for their own officers, Shaffer said. Information from the Sheriff's Office and the Border Patrol's search, trauma and rescue BORSTAR team was not yet available.

The management plan for the incident team, Operation Imperial Dunes, listed the dates of coverage from Dec. 27-Jan. 2.

The BLM will pay about $303,000 in total salaries for the holiday weekend, Shaffer said. He gave a breakdown of the agencies and the approximate salaries the bureau is paying:

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· $183,000 to the BLM for 34 rangers and emergency staff;

· $47,000 to the National Parks Service for 11 rangers;

· $38,000 to the California Highway Patrol for 11 officers;

· $30,000 to the U.S. Forest Service for nine rangers;

· $5,000 in administrative costs.

The remaining $122,000 was used for a communication van, a dispatch center that cost $11,000, salaries for two state park rangers, $9,000 in salaries for five California Conservation Corps officers and miscellaneous support costs.

The CHP provided a helicopter and airplane for the New Year's weekend but did not charge the BLM, Shaffer said.

Sheriff's Office Chief Deputy Jim Burns said deputies' overtime slips for the New Year's weekend are not totaled yet.

Other costs to the county include booking, housing inmates in jail, county public defender and district attorney's costs and court costs.

The county had a staffed corrections trailer at the dunes allowing deputies to get back to patrolling instead of driving arrestees to El Centro for booking, Burns said.

There is some impact on the courts and District Attorney's Office but, unless it's a murder prosecution, it's generally not significant, Assistant District Attorney Joe Beard said.

>> Staff Writer Laura Mitchell can be reached at 337-3452 or lauramitchell9@yahoo.com

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