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A bridge leading to memories

March 16, 2002|By LAURA MITCHELL, Staff Writer

Herman Schneider was the kind of man who built human bridges, so it is fitting that a bridge at the Imperial Sand Dunes was named for the tireless off-road volunteer.

Former state Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Deputy Director Lee Chavet said many people would come to commission meetings "to tell us how to manage the department, but they didn't work with us on solutions."

Schneider was unique because he wanted to work on solutions, Chavet said.

"One day Herman showed up late to a commission meeting with a whole bunch of drawings on what could be done with the (All-American) Canal," he said. "He wanted to go over every detail, and when Herman got on a roll, oh boy!"

The Herman Schneider Bridge, which crosses the All- American Canal just south of Interstate 8 at the Gordon's Well exit, was dedicated Friday to honor the memory of the longtime off-road and Imperial Sand Dunes advocate.

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Building the bridge so people could safely cross the canal was important to Schneider, but he started out with his dunes activities by encouraging people to ride safely, his wife, Virginia, said.

He was concerned about people driving drunk and worked with U.S. Bureau of Land Management rangers to stop people from drinking and driving.

"We spent three or four years at Glamis, then we went to Buttercup, then to Gordon's Well. One time, Herman stopped a guy at Gordon's Well who was driving drunk and the guy said ‘Are you here? I left Buttercup because you were there. Now you're here, too,' " Virginia Schneider said.

According to the BLM, Herman Schneider helped find lost children and aided with medical emergencies. The Schneiders also monitored a two-way radio in their trailer, which served as a portable ranger station.

Schneider was an ambassador for volunteerism and volunteers play a vital role here at dunes, said Bruce Shaffer, associate district manager of the BLM's California Desert District.

Schneider's legacy of volunteerism has become a strong relationship between the BLM and multiple off-road organizations that contribute to dune safety such as the San Diego Off Road Coalition, the American Sand Association and Project Sand.

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

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