Arroyo Toad Site Torn Up by Off-Road Vehicles

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RobertH
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Arroyo Toad Site Torn Up by Off-Road Vehicles

Post by RobertH » August 28th, 2014, 9:32 am

Last weekend Nicholas and I went to a well-known creek in San Bernadino County to look and listen for Arroyo Toads. With us were Jim Bass and Matthias, a visiting herper from Switzerland.

It was a mellow Saturday night with moderate temperatures in the upper 70's, cool for August. Due to the drought the water level was low, as expected, with running water and pools confined to the area inside the canyon.

It was not long before we encountered a large pickup truck driving up - and in! - the stream bed. Jim advised the driver in a friendly tone that off-road vehicles were not allowed in the area, that federally endangered Arroyo Toads lived in the stream bed, and that he was risking a major fine or worse. The predictable response was, "I don't give a s(*^&^ about your f)&(*&^n' toads."

But that was just the beginning. In the next two hours, we encountered at least five or six more vehicles, both pickup trucks and Baja buggies. Jim talked to a couple more of the drivers, but to no avail. No one cared about breaking the law, much less killing toads.

The root cause of the problem appears to be a small tunnel that was dug through the flood control dam some years ago; I am not sure when. It is now used by off-roaders to drive from the desert side of the dam into the creek bed. Jim told us that the barriers that had been installed to prevent vehicle access were simply cut down by the handy off-road folks. Since then, they happily drive in and out of the creek at will, cruising upstream through the sandy creek bed - exactly where Arroyo Toads make their home.

Hence we were not all that surprised that our search did not turn up a single Arroyo Toad. Instead we saw American Bull Frogs galore, also not unexpected, but still worrisome given their superior numbers. We also found a few juvenile California Toads, but no adults.

I wish I had had the presence of mind to document the armada of vehicles with my camera. In fact, some video footage would be very powerful and give you a sense of what is going on there - on a daily basis. A fellow herper we ran into, Joshua, a member of Jim's High Desert Wildlife Facebook group and local to the area, told me that trucks drive in the creek bed not just on weekends, but every day of the week.

According to Jim, there is absolutely no law enforcement in the area (meaning he was just bluffing when he told drivers they were risking being fined). Nor were there any signs advising hikers/off-roaders of the presence of Arroyo Toads, at least none that I saw. Nothing, nada. It's a complete free-for-all, do-as-you-wish place.

To tell you the truth, I was, and still am, hesitant to post our experience on this forum. For one thing, we - all of us here - normally keep quiet about sites with endangered species so as not to draw even more foot traffic (which is why I refrained from naming the location in this post, though it can easily by found on the Internet). And for another, some wildlife biologists/managers/agencies apparently take the view that we - again all of us here - have no business going to sites with endangered species in the first place, even if they are open to the general public (and can easily be found on the Internet).

But in the end, I decided that at least in this case just keeping mum would not be in the best interest of the Arroyo Toad. At least in this case, herpers definitely aren't the problem. In fact, we are just about the only group with the motivation and skill set to a) go to those locations without doing damage, b) collect valuable data, and c) report any problems. I might add that this is actually the second site with an endangered species - that is open to the general public - I have gone to that has huge, obvious problems from recreational activities, and not just off-roading.

Being just an online community, we probably lack the resources, and also the mandate, to do much or anything about these problems. So, this is not supposed to be a call to action. But even if things are allowed to continue and Arroyo Toads are eventually extirpated at this location, the public - starting with this forum - should know what is going there. That IS one of the mandates of the NAFHA - to educate the public.

And, just maybe, this or the other wildlife biologist/manager/agency will read or hear about this post and realize the full scope of the problem. Various Arroyo Toad surveys I read, of course, mention the threat posed by off-road vehicles, at this specific location and in general, but none of them, including the latest from March 2012, make any reference to off-roaders above the dam. Conversely, if wildlife biologists/managers/agencies already do know about the problem, well, that means they too lack the political power to change the course of things. That, in itself, is worth calling attention to.

Again, I am sorry I am unable to provide photographic evidence at this time. Maybe, Jim, who lives near there, can go back one of these nights and get a little video footage, or at least some photographs. He'll need to be very careful, though, because that's a pretty rough crowd down there, to put it mildly. Video would be more discreet as no flash is needed for nighttime filming.

In closing, I would like to caution everyone not to take this as an invitation to stir needless controversy or point the finger at obvious targets. That's just going to cause bad blood and do nothing to help the Arroyo Toads. All the players involved are doing what they can, but it's simply not enough. And, maybe, that's all there is to it. Then again, maybe, this is an instance of lack of up-to-date information and more can and will be done, once the information is received by the right people. So, please, let's all remain civil and try to come up with some constructive ideas.

Thanks!

Robert

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Re: Arroyo Toad Site Torn Up by Off-Road Vehicles

Post by lateralis » August 28th, 2014, 10:49 am

There was a fair amount of critical habitat designated for them a year or so ago but I don't know if your area is included. I would not bother trying to educate them it's a waste of your time which could be spent contacting a warden and snapping a few license plate shots.

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Re: Arroyo Toad Site Torn Up by Off-Road Vehicles

Post by Jeff Teel » August 28th, 2014, 10:12 pm

That place, almost daily has...actually daily has trucks, baja bugs etc etc going in and out that tunnel. I used to spend much more time over there before they closed the rd. The few nights I walked it this year it's like that every time. Partying-(which is all good if you pick your sh!t up) but they rip through the water daily, parties nightly. Been that way a long time, as I'm sure Jim told you the same thing.

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Re: Arroyo Toad Site Torn Up by Off-Road Vehicles

Post by klawnskale » August 29th, 2014, 7:36 am

Are there any visible signs posted in the area which indicate that OHV use is prohibited or restricted in the area you were in? If not, then it is probably open for OHV use.. Even posted signs sometimes don't discourage illegal activity from offroaders. This is an ongoing issue in California's desert regions. As lateralis mentioned, critical habitat was set aside for the Arroyo Toad but was most likely acquired under a bargaining deal with the BLM and the off road community. I had to deal with some of this stuff while working in California City which derives a portion of its municipal income from OHV recreation. It is too bad you did not photo document some of this activity because then you could have sent it to the BLM recreation district supervisor. Another person to contact about this is Ed Waldheim; the District Supervisor in that area for the OHV 'ers. Ed is a very powerful influence over local OHV groups to encourage them to behave because if they don't, they will continue to lose acreage for recreating. I will research his contact info and post it here. You can also contact Ed Patrovsky: a volunteer BLM OHV Regulatory Advisor at [email protected] in San Bernardino. He is always interested in knowing about any damaging behavior caused by irresponsible offroaders. Ed Waldheim is head of the California Trail Users Coalition. His email is [email protected] Phone: (818)247-8778 #215

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Re: Arroyo Toad Site Torn Up by Off-Road Vehicles

Post by RobertH » August 29th, 2014, 2:05 pm

Thanks for everyone's replies and ideas.

Hannah: Thanks for those contacts. If I get nowhere with the government, they are next on my list. I kind of doubt that they have much or any influence over outlaw-type off-roaders, but, still, I might learn something in the process, a new angle to pursue or whatever.

This morning I researched and/or called a few government agencies and this is what I found out:

1. Hesperia Police Department: I was told that the city is not responsible for - and does not patrol - the creek because it is outside city limits in an unincorporated area. While I knew that it was federal land, I still thought that, somehow, the city might have jurisdiction over criminal activities right in their backyard. Apparently this is not so. They said I could try Highway Patrol. I did not bother to call Highway Patrol because, well, they are just not going to go there, even if they had jurisdiction, which I doubt.

2. Department of Fish & Wildlife: I spoke to a very nice gentleman in the Ontario office, who was quite receptive to what I had to report. He told me that though the DF&W technically has jurisdiction only if the welfare of animals is directly threatened - which curiously doesn't include getting run over by a truck - and hence does not get involved in motor vehicle-related matters, he would speak to his officer in the Apple Valley area and also try to communicate with the BLM and some unnamed wildlife biologists. It didn't sound terribly promising, but it's a start. At least, he understood exactly what I was talking about and agreed that something should be done.

3. BLM: I called the Barstow office, which according to their own map, has jurisdiction over the relevant area. I was told, without much enthusiasm, if you know what I mean, to call back Tuesday, because the person I spoke to on the phone had no idea what location I was talking about, much less what an Arroyo Toad is, and generally seemed disinterested and unknowledgeable. So, I'll try again on Tuesday.

4. San Bernadino National Forest: I figured out by looking at their map that the creek lies outside forest boundaries and hence did not even bother to call them.

So, the pattern that emerges is that no one agency is clearly in charge of motor vehicle traffic in the creek. The local agency closest to and most familiar with the area, the Hesperia Police Department, purportedly lacks jurisdiction. The state agency most interested in the welfare of the Arroyo Toad, the DFW, apparently does not deal with motor vehicle offenses. And the federal agency that appears to manage the land in question has, from what I can tell right now, never even heard of the place, which lies in the extreme southern part of their jurisdiction (if they even have jurisdiction).

I am still hopeful that, in the end, some agency will step forward and take responsibility. But if not, well, then at least we will have an explanation for the problem.

Robert

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Re: Arroyo Toad Site Torn Up by Off-Road Vehicles

Post by El Garia » August 29th, 2014, 3:05 pm

Hi Robert - The Sheriffs Dept. has jurisdiction over unincorporated areas within the county.

edit - just re-read the thread and realized it's on BLM land. Sheriffs Dept. may have jurisdiction. I don't know

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Re: Arroyo Toad Site Torn Up by Off-Road Vehicles

Post by RobertH » August 29th, 2014, 3:52 pm

Thanks, Derek. The Sheriff's Department somehow had not occurred to me yet. So, I'll put them on the list.

Hey, if nobody wants to take charge of the land, maybe we should claim it as our own and kick all the off-roaders out. :lol:

Robert

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Re: Arroyo Toad Site Torn Up by Off-Road Vehicles

Post by klawnskale » August 29th, 2014, 5:06 pm

Robert:
I hate to say it, but you are going about this with a very naive idealistic approach. The only one who can really write citations out on these guys are the Law Enforcement Rangers for BLM. This is what Ed Patrovsky used to do. He lives in Apple Valley. He knows that creek very well. He still has contacts and works with the State regarding OHV enforcement and regulations.Just mention that the offroaders are tearing up the creek . He will let you know what he can do. Okay, I just got off the phone with Ed and this is what he told me: sounds like you guys were herping around the spillway which has a barricade put there but unfortunately ofroaders go around it or knock it down regularly. The spillway area actually has split jurisdiction: The Army Corps of Engineers (which has no Law Enforcement) and the BLM. BLM used to have a LE Ranger stationed there but he has retired. Barstow Field Office known to be lax regarding enforcement. He said you could contact County Sheriffs or Federal Dispatch: (909)383-5651. Tell Dispatch the damage the offroaders are causing and they will decide which agency LE division will be sent to look into the problem

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Re: Arroyo Toad Site Torn Up by Off-Road Vehicles

Post by Brian Hubbs » August 29th, 2014, 7:04 pm

Robert, if you can't get anywhere with LE, just remember that picture Jim has...it might come in handy... 8-)

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Re: Arroyo Toad Site Torn Up by Off-Road Vehicles

Post by RobertH » August 29th, 2014, 8:00 pm

Hannah, thanks for the additional info, though I don't understand why you say I am going about this idealistically and naive. I am perfectly aware that, in all likelihood, nothing will be done to fix the problem. But I want to give our good government folks the benefit of the doubt before passing final judgment. Plus I want to know exactly which government agency is responsible, if any. As you have found out yourself, the answer is anything but straightforward. Even your good buddy Ed isn't sure which agency to call.

What you refer to as "Federal Dispatch" appears to be:

"The Federal Interagency Communications Center (FICC) was established May 1985 following a reciprocal agreement between the Forest Service (USFS), the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), National Park Service (NPS), and Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) to consolidate dispatching services for the following agencies:

California Desert District BLM (CDD) Mojave National Preserve (MNP)
Death Valley National Park (DVP) San Bernardino National Forest (BDF)
Joshua Tree National Park (JTP) Southern California Agency BIA (SCA)
Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument
(Administered by Forest Service and BLM)"

(emphasis added)

Well, if you look at the list, it seems that none of the agencies involved - except for the BLM - could possibly have jurisdiction. And the BLM, by all appearances, seems to be a deadbeat when it comes to LE in that area and perhaps in general. Then again, they might be the right address for dealing with the problem of the open tunnel. But securing the tunnel, properly this time, would cost a ton of money, money the BLM most likely doesn't have or can't spend.

That leaves the Sheriff's Department. I'll give them a call Tuesday, but somehow I doubt that they will rise to the occasion.

Brian: Yeah, you're probably right, if we really want to put an end to the destruction, we would need to make it "highly unattractive" to drive vehicles up and down the creek. :twisted:

Robert

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Re: Arroyo Toad Site Torn Up by Off-Road Vehicles

Post by klawnskale » August 30th, 2014, 7:10 am

Securing the tunnel would be the jurisdiction of the Army Corps of Engineers. If they are not given the money to do it. ofcourse they won't. I have been in contact with a group of volunteers who are local and help out to keep a watchful eye on and maintain the creek (like cleaning up trash and reporting illicit activities). I put a link to this discussion on their forum and quite a few have viewed it. Hopefully their disgust will cause them to contact the Sheriffs to actively police the area. I was told by them it IS the Sheriff's Dept that watches that area. Hopefully they have been alerted. I would put a link to their site here, however the name of the creek is in their title and I don't want to reveal that here. Robert: do you have access to Twitter? You can alert them immediately at their Twitter Page: @sbcountysheriff They seem to be quite active on it (last post 8 hours old)

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Re: Arroyo Toad Site Torn Up by Off-Road Vehicles

Post by hellihooks » August 30th, 2014, 10:17 am

the Army corp of Engineers were just out there several months ago, fixing the access problems and dredging the creek etc to maintain viable habitat for the toads. They do this bout every 2 year... took the offroaders one week to move all the big boulders out of the way, and cut the steel barricades out. For crime... it's the Co Sheriff's jurisdiction... but they have to come from either Big Bear or Lucerne Valley... both an hr away... so they will not respond for trespassing as the trespassers are usually gone by the time they get there... same with F&G... nearest office is in BB.

Im working with local law-abiding off roaders in my area towards better policing their avocation.

The majority of the Arroyo habitat is on the property I maintain, and as I posted on the local FB page... these rouge offroaders are going to find out very soon that there's a New Sheriff in town, and this is going to end... come hell or high water... :evil:

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Re: Arroyo Toad Site Torn Up by Off-Road Vehicles

Post by RobertH » August 30th, 2014, 4:58 pm

Hannah: Great, that sounds like a step in the right direction. A local group obviously would be in a much better position that any one us here, well, except for Jim, to put some pressure on the SB County Sheriff's Department. And, no, I don't have or do Twitter.

Jim: If you can bring about changes by "guided self-regulation", that would be great. But somehow, after seeing you talk to some of those guys in their trucks, I get the sense that self-regulation isn't one of their strengths. So, at least initially, it would be good for the Sheriffs to show some regular presence there, especially on Friday and Saturday night.

In the long run, the most efficient way to end the destruction would be to barricade the tunnel in a way that cannot be removed with just hand-carried tools and pickup trucks. If the Army Corps of Engineers put their minds to it - with the benefit of hindsight, this time - I am sure they could figure something out that will work.

Robert

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Re: Arroyo Toad Site Torn Up by Off-Road Vehicles

Post by Speckled Rosy » August 31st, 2014, 7:19 am

Another sad story, of mismanagement on the part of local government.. Robert and Jim, I am glad to see you are both trying to do something. Maybe bringing this to a state senator or, someone of higher rank.. Im afraid this is probably more of a money and resources problem, than a law enforcement one. Sounds like a bigger, stronger fence is needed, that cant be torched or cut through. And someone to patrol the area more often.. Jim?

-Dan

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Re: Arroyo Toad Site Torn Up by Off-Road Vehicles

Post by hellihooks » August 31st, 2014, 8:40 am

Technically our property (EGA's) runs right up to the tunnel where the west fork of the Mojave meets Deep Creek... the problem is... if the barricade is too elaborate at the tunnel... it 'clogs' during flooding and turns the whole valley behind the dam into a 40 ft deep lake (happened just several years ago) Last year some well-meaning citizen felled trees across the creek to prevent trucks from driving along the west fork of the Mojave (the principle toad habitat) but the off roaders just carved a detour up and around the blockade, and actually infringing upon the Pacific Crest Trail... so hypothetically you could be walking the PCT and get hit by a truck... :shock:

Maybe some well-meaning citizen will put spike strips in the riverbed proper, where no one is authorized to drive. If offroaders are stuck in the riverbed with 4 flat tires... the sheriffs will realize they will be able to take the vehicles AND prosecute the owners, and will respond. ;) Eventually word will get around... drive back there...Lose your vehicle and face federal beefs. :evil:

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Re: Arroyo Toad Site Torn Up by Off-Road Vehicles

Post by mwentz » August 31st, 2014, 10:32 am

What about the state water resources control board (SWRCB) or the EPA? All water is regulated by some agency. Under the most strict reading of EPA regulations, they have dominion over every molecule of H2O in the universe, including hydrogen and oxygen that could possibly combine to form water

Stirring up any sort of silt is technically supposed to result in a fine.

There are local water shed agencies, I am not sure about witch ones are down south.

have a great weekend everybody.

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Re: Arroyo Toad Site Torn Up by Off-Road Vehicles

Post by klawnskale » August 31st, 2014, 11:43 am

Maybe some well-meaning citizen will put spike strips in the riverbed proper, where no one is authorized to drive. If offroaders are stuck in the riverbed with 4 flat tires... the sheriffs will realize they will be able to take the vehicles AND prosecute the owners, and will respond. ;) Eventually word will get around... drive back there...Lose your vehicle and face federal beefs. :evil:[/quote]

Vigilante justice? Believe me if a non law enforcement person tries to implement such a tactic, that will most certainly discourage any further cooperation from agency law enforcement. They really dislike it when an ordinary citizen steps on their toes and may even try to find the person who planned the sabotage and bust them too.

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Re: Arroyo Toad Site Torn Up by Off-Road Vehicles

Post by hellihooks » August 31st, 2014, 12:35 pm

mwentz wrote:What about the state water resources control board (SWRCB) or the EPA? All water is regulated by some agency. Under the most strict reading of EPA regulations, they have dominion over every molecule of H2O in the universe, including hydrogen and oxygen that could possibly combine to form water

Stirring up any sort of silt is technically supposed to result in a fine.

There are local water shed agencies, I am not sure about witch ones are down south.

have a great weekend everybody.
They (several agencies) monitor water quality at least once a week, at a variety of access points, including some on our property (that we lease) They, the County and the Army Corp of Engineers all have full access across the property we maintain. They don't often share their findings with us lowly uneducated gun-toting 'caretakers'... :roll: :lol: :lol:

Kinda funny though... I hear that the actually AC of E guy in charge of the Arroyo habitat, is named Bass, as well. I've tried to find him online (through official channels) but to no avail.

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Re: Arroyo Toad Site Torn Up by Off-Road Vehicles

Post by Fieldnotes » August 31st, 2014, 4:33 pm

Sounds like the DFG needs to stop laying out rubber snakes (yeah, the dead [DORs] and live snakes too) on the pavement and set up camp along this stream course.

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Post by hellihooks » August 31st, 2014, 6:01 pm

Fieldnotes wrote:Sounds like the DFG needs to stop laying out rubber snakes (yeah, the dead [DORs] and live snakes too) on the pavement and set up camp along this stream course.
Interestingly enough...our local Warden (out of Big Bear) answers directly to Chang, who I guess got kicked up the ladder.

As for 'vigilante justice'... that's not my idea and 'men of good conscience' are utilizing that method elsewhere... anyone can find it on the web. after giving a rattlesnake talk to a local wildlife group (mostly neo-hippies who had built a two story tee-pee back in the creek and held their drum circles there) someone came on our private property and released all the rattlesnakes we use for avoidance training .... so... no telling what some do-gooders may or may not do out there..
Or... bad-do'ers for that matter... people dump stolen cars... dead bodies, etc out there... cause they KNOW there's no LE there.
2 weeks ago someone came on our property and stole an ATV... :(
Hell... a week ago someone dumped a 5 yr old boy out there...so... nothing that happens out there surprises me any more... including the intentional arson I stopped a month or so back. :roll:
I would never risk my job, or my employer's lease with the County by being party to illegal activities or vigilante justice... that's not who we are at EGA... we're the ones in the WHITE hats and with all the guns... which (somewhat) sadly... we can only point at birds and clay pigeons... :lol: :lol: :lol: I don't even carry a gun when I ask trespassers to leave... but the way things are going out there... maybe I should, for my own protection, on our private property.
That said... most of the time it's a serene beautiful place to live, and I'm privileged to get to spend so much time there... but when it gets ugly... it can get very ugly, very fast... and the calvery's always at least an hour away.... :? Take the good with the bad, I guess... :|
I also have to say, Hanna, that your responses on this thread have been especially germane and helpful, and it is my hope that you will share your local contacts with me, so that I can explore some type of digital/video enforcement. That's right... the 'New Sheriff' shoots a camera... not a gun... :crazyeyes: jim

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Re: Arroyo Toad Site Torn Up by Off-Road Vehicles

Post by klawnskale » September 1st, 2014, 7:10 am

Jim: I think installing hidden game or webcams around the area in question is a great idea. That evidence would be admissible in court and there is nothing more rewarding to catch a perpetrator in the act. You just have to make sure the camera is not visible so it can't be stolen or subjected to vandalism.
It would be cool to check the SIMS card every week or so and see so who (or even what) has been lurking around the spillway). It is also a chance to observe and record any incidental wildlife which ofcourse is always a welcome sight. You might be very surprised at who/what could be visiting the area especially at night. The only drawback is that the flash will be deployed by the camera's motion sensor at night, and then a trespassing human might get pissed off and try to find the camera. If you are able to gather enough exposures to present to the Sheriffs Dept to show that the problem is really chronic, then it will be tough for them to ignore it and they may consider figuring something out to inhibit further deterioration, You may also try to go to a Community/City Council Meeting with Robert (as another witness) and present the issue to the county and city.

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Re: Arroyo Toad Site Torn Up by Off-Road Vehicles

Post by hellihooks » September 1st, 2014, 7:40 am

klawnskale wrote:Jim: I think installing hidden game or webcams around the area in question is a great idea. That evidence would be admissible in court and there is nothing more rewarding to catch a perpetrator in the act. You just have to make sure the camera is not visible so it can't be stolen or subjected to vandalism.
It would be cool to check the SIMS card every week or so and see so who (or even what) has been lurking around the spillway). It is also a chance to observe and record any incidental wildlife which ofcourse is always a welcome sight. You might be very surprised at who/what could be visiting the area especially at night. The only drawback is that the flash will be deployed by the camera's motion sensor at night, and then a trespassing human might get pissed off and try to find the camera. If you are able to gather enough exposures to present to the Sheriffs Dept to show that the problem is really chronic, then it will be tough for them to ignore it and they may consider figuring something out to inhibit further deterioration, You may also try to go to a Community/City Council Meeting with Robert (as another witness) and present the issue to the county and city.
I don't have the resources for webcams etc...There's plenty of them in the late afternoon/dusk that I can take pics of myself, surreptitiously. I just need to figure out who to send them to, that will issue citations, at the highest level (Feds?) like 'destruction of critically endangered habitat' Jurisdiction is the quagmire... WE lease from the County... the County leases from the Army Corp of Eng.... so basically anything we (EGA) want to do out there requires both county and federal approval. And both are notoriously slow and recalcitrant when it comes to administering this property... hell.. we JUST got our lease renewed, which was supposed to be done 2 years ago. :roll:

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Re: Arroyo Toad Site Torn Up by Off-Road Vehicles

Post by RobertH » September 1st, 2014, 10:16 am

Sounds like we are coming up with the beginning of a basic strategy: 1) gather photographic evidence, 2) present it to the appropriate authorities (Sheriffs/BLM/AC of E), and 3) put some pressure on those authorities to do more than in the past.

For #3, I wonder if we could/should enlist the help of wildlife biologists who have done Arroyo Toad survey work at the location. Their word would certainly weigh more heavily than any of ours. I am thinking of a letter, signed by one, two or three of the top guys, like Sam Sweet and Robert Fisher (provided they have an personal experience with the area). That, combined with pressure from local citizens, e.g., Jim, the High Desert Wildlife FB Group, and maybe the online group Hannah mentioned, would be a solid effort and may bear fruit.

Robert

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Re: Arroyo Toad Site Torn Up by Off-Road Vehicles

Post by jonathan » September 17th, 2014, 7:25 pm

Thank you very much Robert, Jim, and Klawnscale for the work you are doing to address this.

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Re: Arroyo Toad Site Torn Up by Off-Road Vehicles

Post by Jimi » September 18th, 2014, 9:20 am

Hanna's input has been spot-on here.

BLM administrative units have plans, which have a travel management component. "Drive wherever you like" is way old-school. Nobody allows that anymore, there are just too many people with too many destructive toys - so instead there are legal "sacrifice areas" like the Stoddard OHV zone, and for everywhere else there are significant restrictions - basically, "stay on designated routes". I doubt they've got a designated route up a creek that's occupied T&E species habitat. BLM LE exists to enforce the rules, you can get them on the case. It just might take some effort. Ha ha ouch.

Whichever FWS-Ecological Services office is lead for arroyo toad (Carlsbad? Ventura?) should also be made aware of this situation. They could lean on that BLM Field Office (Barstow?), which surely had to do a T&E consultation with FWS on the toad, last time (and next time!) they did/do some project or plan. There's obviously "take" happening here, which is blatantly illegal without a take permit. Which don't exist for endangered species, only threatened ones. (Did this species get upgraded from E to T? I thought that was in the works but don't know if it happened.)

I also recommend some trail cams. IR flash, 940nm. Crappier pictures than visible but your units won't be detected. Not cause of the flash, anyway. Hide em good! LE will appreciate good evidence for court, as well as not having to expend resources (very limited resources) trying to catch someone red-handed.

A wildlife biologist or a hunter could help with the cameras - soup to nuts, field setup to data cleanup. Lots of guys know this tech now.

Finally - it might be dangerous to be out there taking pictures by hand. Sounds like these guys are pretty outlaw...don't mess with them face to face. Leave that for the guys with guns and badges.

cheers
Jimi

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Re: Arroyo Toad Site Torn Up by Off-Road Vehicles

Post by hellihooks » September 18th, 2014, 9:27 am

Thx Jonathan, and thx Jimi for the valuable input... :thumb:

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Re: Arroyo Toad Site Torn Up by Off-Road Vehicles

Post by Fundad » September 20th, 2014, 4:10 pm

Robert we should talk on the phone.. Arroyo Toad's are federally listed and the USFW might be a good place to discuss this. I am getting ready to work further with the USFW after we just received our first USFW request.

This might be an item you want me or Lawrence involved in with you.

Brian Hinds
California Chapter President.

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Re: Arroyo Toad Site Torn Up by Off-Road Vehicles

Post by RobertH » September 22nd, 2014, 1:06 pm

Brian, yes, let's talk. Thanks for offering to help with this. Robert


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Re: Arroyo Toad Site Torn Up by Off-Road Vehicles

Post by Fundad » September 23rd, 2014, 3:58 am

? Jim, there is absolutely no disrespect here at all, I trust Robert, fully.

I think there is more power in numbers, and having the California Board Members supporting Robert can only help him with this cause. This is the type of thing having the NAFHA name would help.

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Re: Arroyo Toad Site Torn Up by Off-Road Vehicles

Post by RobertH » September 23rd, 2014, 7:04 am

Jim, I don't get the point of the video, either. But I suspect it wasn't aimed at Brian at all. In any event, please let's keep this thread on the serious side, if we want to take this "up to the top" (or anywhere near it). This is not to suggest you are not being dead serious about the issue. I know you are. Thanks, Robert

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Re: Arroyo Toad Site Torn Up by Off-Road Vehicles

Post by hellihooks » September 23rd, 2014, 8:18 am

The video was meant to be funny... but that said, we need to bear in mind that both the Feds and County have basically given control of the Arroyo toad habitat to EGA, the organization I work for. Anything that happens there, probably will need to be approved by their board... and if we (Nafha) is seen to be going 'over their heads' or around them... it could well cost me my job.
Andy, the onsite Manager, is concerned about the Arroyos and habitat degradation, but has certain rules and constraints in play, regarding use of the property, we may not be aware of. We can't afford to alienate Andy and EGA... Andy has been very inviting and supportive of Nafha,(even hosted a Nafha outing there) and Citizen Science in General... providing weekend accommodations for Data collectors from not only the US, but from abroad as well. He's allowing our local Wildlife Group, to hold a Herp Education talk for our members there, this Oct 4th.
Bottom line... anything we want to try to do out there, needs to go through Andy FIRST, or it could turn an ally into another stumbling block, and result in me (who's been fighting this battle there, for years) losing my/our access to the property (not to mention me losing my job) I'll be seeing Andy soon and will talk to him about all this, and see what he has to say... but as Brian says... having Nafha's 'official' support might carry more weight than just me saying 'I'd like to do this or that'. :shock:

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Re: Arroyo Toad Site Torn Up by Off-Road Vehicles

Post by Fundad » September 23rd, 2014, 9:01 am

Jim, last thing I want is for you to lose your Job.

Sounds like you and Robert should go to the EGA board and Andy first?

Lets get a phone call going next week and we will follow your lead with the EGA. Let me know if you don't want us involved
if its too complicated.

It's likely a long shot we can actually do anything anyway, outside of bringing light to the problem.

Brian

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Re: Arroyo Toad Site Torn Up by Off-Road Vehicles

Post by hellihooks » September 23rd, 2014, 10:07 am

What Complicates matters is we are only in charge of roughly 3/4 of the toad habitat, behind the dams... and actually have no say over what happens in 'Deep Creek'. We are only caretakers of the west fork of the Mojave, from the tunnel (where DC & W fork meet) west to Flores Ranch) As long as our efforts are geared towards the property we don't control (and I'm not even sure how far up DC, the Fed's have jurisdiction over, before it goes back to BLM) we should be ok... I would just hate to see our efforts negatively affect EGA (new rules for all Federally controlled property, including the parcel we lease) without Andy and EGA included and ok, with any said changes. So yeah... I think Andy/EGA (as major players) need to be 'in the loop' so to speak. I'll forward you Andy's number, if and when you think you might want to talk to him, Brian

edit... one other thing that bears consideration, and may be a concern for EGA... is that if and when 'offroaders' start getting nailed for driving behind the dams... who are they going to retaliate against??? We (EGA) are the ONLY people out there.. to retaliate against... and we have a mandate to our members to provide a safe environment for them. Making enemies of the local lawless offroaders may put our paying members at risk. What if some outlaw offroader decides to start taking pot shots at our members, injuring or killing them or their dogs? We're out of business and the property reverts back to County Control, and again (like it was in the 70's) becomes 'the wild wild west' with the nearest LE an hour away. What I'm saying is... we walk a very dangerous tightrope out there now... as it is... and not making enemies of anyone is kinda a 'must', given that we (the people 'onsite') have no 'backup'.
And.. if prevented from driving behind the Dams... where will the offroaders go??? I'm guessing the next stretch of river, upstream (EGA's property)... where We get to deal with them. One of my major duties out there is repairing the (literally) miles of barb wire fence surrounding our property, that offroaders are constantly cutting through. Bottom line is... more protection for Deep Creek may place an undue burden on EGA, and actually put it's employees (me included) and members in more danger than we are currently subject to.... so yeah... rock and a hard place, for EGA. :? As it stands now... the most productive Toad Habitat is controlled and protected (as best we can) by EGA... we do things that force EGA to give up their lease... ALL the Toad habitat is wide open for destruction by offroading, horse riding, partiers etc. In short... we could end up doing more long-term harm than short-term good... so this all needs to be considered VERY carefully. We can't negatively affect those who protect 3/4 of the most productive Toad habitat to protect the remaining 1/4 of the least productive habitat. :shock:

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Re: Arroyo Toad Site Torn Up by Off-Road Vehicles

Post by klawnskale » September 23rd, 2014, 4:24 pm

Before anyone has a cow over this, I would suggest going to the local County Clerk Office in Hesperia or Apple Valley and ask to view up-to-date surveyor's maps of the locality of contention to accurately assess who really has jurisdiction of the area. Carefully review property lines to determine where it is County owned, State owned, BLM owned or EGA (Privately) owned. I am only going by a hunch here but I am going to venture a guess that the spillway is under Federal jurisdiction since it has been in the past managed by the Army Corps of Engineers and BLM. Is EGA leasing the spillway from them? This specifically is the site that needs the most attention. When you can successfully prohibit ingress of vehicular traffic via the spillway you will as a result prevent damage to occur further up the Mojave River/Deep Creek where I suppose EGA's property line exists. Below is a video created by a Friends Of Deep Creek Volunteer showing the area we are discussing so you can get a better idea of the geography:


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Re: Arroyo Toad Site Torn Up by Off-Road Vehicles

Post by RobertH » September 23rd, 2014, 5:19 pm

Jim, thanks for all the additional details. This certainly makes an already complicated situation even more, WAY more, complicated. Even if no law enforcements are made on actual EGA property, they may well have the kind of adverse effects on EGA property you describe. That had frankly never occurred to me before. :?

So, yeah, since Andy and you are the only ones on location and the only ones who really know exactly know what's going on and where, you guys should talk and decide what, if anything, makes sense for us - or anyone - to do. Hopefully, we can at least bring the problem to the attention of agencies like the USFW or BLM. As Brian said, chances are, they won't do anything, much less anything drastic like closing the tunnel or hauling outlaw offroaders off to jail.

In any event, let's talk sometime next week, Brian. Is there any way to include Jim in a 3-way call?

Thanks, guys,

Robert

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Re: Arroyo Toad Site Torn Up by Off-Road Vehicles

Post by hellihooks » September 23rd, 2014, 5:40 pm

Nothing shown in those videos was legal, and those are NOT 'friends of Deep Creek'... they are the offroaders trespassing and shredding the place. That video's pretty old too...it was those steel barricades at the end of the tunnel that clogged with trees and created a lake 40 ft deep of the Arroyp habitat behind the dams, several years ago. new barricades, and big rocks were put in the tunnel 3 months ago... and it took (ostensibly) those guys 1 week to move the rocks and cur through the new barricades. Everything north of the Dams is County...the Arroyo habitat south of the dams is Army Corp of Engineers... leased to the County...who leases to EGA. the only thing I don't know is how far up deep creek is AC of E jurisdiction, before it reverts to BLM.

Robert... problem is (or could be) any complaints regarding stewardship of the Toad habitat COULD reflect poorly on EGA... for although we try to fix our fences as fast as they're cut through, and constantly chase folks out... they can and do access toad habitat through EGA property...no possible way for even the two of us to monitor all the property 24/7... and as Andy says... it's a game for them (the offroaders) to get around any barricade erected as fast as they are put up. It may very well be the case that things are as good as they can get out there (and WAY better than things used to be) with EGA protecting the majority of the Toad habitat, as best we can.

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Re: Arroyo Toad Site Torn Up by Off-Road Vehicles

Post by klawnskale » September 23rd, 2014, 5:54 pm

hellihooks wrote:Nothing shown in those videos was legal, and those are NOT 'friends of Deep Creek'... they are the offroaders trespassing and shredding the place. .
I didn't state that the other people in the video were Friends Of Deep Creek. And if you would have paid better attention, you would have realized that Rude Dog WALKED through the tunnel behind the people on the Jeep. He is the only member of Fo DC in that video. If you are stating that it is illegal to walk through the tunnel, then you at one point commited the same illegal act. And BTW, trespassing and fence line vandalism are not just unique to your sef important game bird hunting dog association. Lots of private landowners have to deal with this issue in the desert. It is also an ongoing issue with the Desert Tortoise Natural Area. Why do you think your employer's property is any more or less unique? Endangered species? Obviously that's not going to stop some of them as I have personally witnessed at the DTNA. So worried about bad PR? LOL! Request for an official sanctuary status. But ah there's the caveat. Then no hunting allowed!

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Re: Arroyo Toad Site Torn Up by Off-Road Vehicles

Post by hellihooks » September 23rd, 2014, 7:28 pm

No vehicular traffic is allowed on either side of the dam... the sherrif's dept come out about once a summer and writes County Trespassing citations... for like $75 a pop. I actually don't know for sure if it's legal to walk through the tunnel itself, but foot traffic is allowed through the toad habitat itself (behind the dams) because the Pacific Crest Trail crosses Deep Creek right there.
And I never said you said the guys in the video's were 'Friends of Deep Creek'... that's what they call themselves (Kinda like Bush's 'Blue Skys initiative :roll: ) I know you posted that video so people could get an idea of what's being discussed... but the guy who did the vid didn't even know the name of the road leading there... and kept calling the tunnel the spillway (which is an actual 'spillway' at the eastern extent of the dam) which leads me to believe he's NOT a local and made the video to show offroader friends a great place to go 'tear it up'. EGA's property runs from the tunnel (up to the top of the dam(s)) west to Flores Ranch. Another problem we have is that to the south we are bordered by Mojave Forks Regional Park property, who have equestrian areas where folks can ride their horses, and often ride them right through, and right WHEN we have hunters in the field (which we could lose our charter over)... so yeah... we have 'county' trespassers to deal with, which are situations which have to be dealt with, with a couple of things you may not have heard of... finesse and 'kid gloves'. Speaking of which... mine are coming off long enough to say... my salary comes from a private, for profit business... and your income comes from where??? Oh that's right... Taxpayer dollars. You are in no position to get snide about how I make my living, or how I feel about trespassers in general or any other topic related to this thread... which if YOU had been paying attention, you'd have noticed that I didn't bring any of this up (not my post) All I've been doing here is trying to provide a clear picture of the situation as it stands.... and the difficulties involved. Cause hey... what do I have to lose, cept my job. :roll:

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Re: Arroyo Toad Site Torn Up by Off-Road Vehicles

Post by Fundad » September 24th, 2014, 6:13 am

Robert as long a Jim has a phone to answer yes we can include him in a conference call.

We can talk about it, but it sounds like it may get Jim and EGA in a bind.

Fundad

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Re: Arroyo Toad Site Torn Up by Off-Road Vehicles

Post by klawnskale » September 24th, 2014, 7:19 am

hellihooks wrote:No vehicular traffic is allowed on either side of the dam... the sherrif's dept come out about once a summer and writes County Trespassing citations... for like $75 a pop. I actually don't know for sure if it's legal to walk through the tunnel itself, but foot traffic is allowed through the toad habitat itself (behind the dams) because the Pacific Crest Trail crosses Deep Creek right there.
And I never said you said the guys in the video's were 'Friends of Deep Creek'... that's what they call themselves (Kinda like Bush's 'Blue Skys initiative :roll: ) I know you posted that video so people could get an idea of what's being discussed... but the guy who did the vid didn't even know the name of the road leading there... and kept calling the tunnel the spillway (which is an actual 'spillway' at the eastern extent of the dam) which leads me to believe he's NOT a local and made the video to show offroader friends a great place to go 'tear it up'. EGA's property runs from the tunnel (up to the top of the dam(s)) west to Flores Ranch. Another problem we have is that to the south we are bordered by Mojave Forks Regional Park property, who have equestrian areas where folks can ride their horses, and often ride them right through, and right WHEN we have hunters in the field (which we could lose our charter over)... so yeah... we have 'county' trespassers to deal with, which are situations which have to be dealt with, with a couple of things you may not have heard of... finesse and 'kid gloves'. Speaking of which... mine are coming off long enough to say... my salary comes from a private, for profit business... and your income comes from where??? Oh that's right... Taxpayer dollars. You are in no position to get snide about how I make my living, or how I feel about trespassers in general or any other topic related to this thread... which if YOU had been paying attention, you'd have noticed that I didn't bring any of this up (not my post) All I've been doing here is trying to provide a clear picture of the situation as it stands.... and the difficulties involved. Cause hey... what do I have to lose, cept my job. :roll:
I detect a change of attitude here from your part, Jim because I suspect you went public before you conferred with your employer and now they are pissed and you are being lambasted for it. Not my problem. In so far as source of income, my salary was funded by a non profit private organization for the past two years but this is not germane to the issue. The same etiquette holds true when it comes to an employer regardless of whether they are private or government in nature. Discuss with them first before you spill the beans. Now you are trying to cover up your mistake by tempering any possible action from people participating in this discussion who were trying to sincerely help you. Spare me. Want to make it better? Go and apologize to your boss and try to keep communication open with him in the future.

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Re: Arroyo Toad Site Torn Up by Off-Road Vehicles

Post by hellihooks » September 24th, 2014, 7:27 am

As it is, (and Robert can verify this) the majority of offroad traffic tends to be up Deep Creek, for roughly 1/2 a mile. While Andy and I can't actually see whats going on in our 1 mile stretch of canyon, as soon as anyone comes out of the canyon on EGA's property, we see them and ASK them to leave, and they generally do.
This has been the status quo for about the last 20 years, since EGA started leasing the property... roughly 4 miles of Toad habitat controlled and protected (to the best of our ability) with the easternmost 1/2 mile of habitat (east of the tunnel) subject to lawlessness. Frankly... the County and AC of E has had 20 years to come up with a way to protect the 1/2 mile of habitat that suffers the worst abuse (different barricades, Cemented Rock Barriers etc) and all these efforts have failed... mostly because of jurisdictional problems (LE too far away)

I think the most workable solution would be to have a Game Warden station at Mojave Forks Regional Park, 1 mile away... but... I don't know that the State, County and Fed's can be convinced that one more level of jurisdictional confusion is workable. It's a Gorgon's Knot as it is... with BLM, County, Federal and Private Property. And I THINK there may be a 'wait and see' paradigm in play right now, as to whether or not the Tapestry Project gets approved (the 10,000 homes they're trying to build on what was Flores Ranch)

If Approved, the City of Hesperia annexes (basically) Summit Valley and their new jurisdictional boundary may well include the Deep Creek area... up to at least the Mojave river, which is the current division between Hesperia and Apple Valley.
Don't get me wrong... I really DO appreciate that Nafha would try to work to improve this less than ideal situation, but don't see any action on our part doing anything but further muddying the already muddy waters. The EIR for the Tapestry Project should be done soon, and (again) what happens in this area will hinge on whether or not that project is approved. I will (naturally) keep everyone apprised of new developments.

You know Brian... that since High Desert Wildlife Group has an account at HERP, and several of HDWG administrators are Nafha members (Jacob Anderson just joined)... our group MIGHT be considered a Ca Chap. 'member'... and we would be honored to have our Chapter Pres perhaps saying a few words about Nafha (towards getting more individual members to open HERP accounts) at the Herp Ed talk we have planned at Andys on the 4th of next month. You'd have the chance to talk to Andy, and along with the Toad Habitat... hell... we could go look for more WPT on EGA property. You'll get to see habitat, very few herpers have access to (without me). I know how busy you are... but think that it would be a worthwhile trip. back to the grind... cyaaa

Edit... did I mention Hubbs may well be there, for a WPT survey I'm putting together at Mojave Narrows and a few other local spots (including EGA) :thumb:

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Re: Arroyo Toad Site Torn Up by Off-Road Vehicles

Post by hellihooks » September 24th, 2014, 8:11 am

klawnskale wrote:
hellihooks wrote:No vehicular traffic is allowed on either side of the dam... the sherrif's dept come out about once a summer and writes County Trespassing citations... for like $75 a pop. I actually don't know for sure if it's legal to walk through the tunnel itself, but foot traffic is allowed through the toad habitat itself (behind the dams) because the Pacific Crest Trail crosses Deep Creek right there.
And I never said you said the guys in the video's were 'Friends of Deep Creek'... that's what they call themselves (Kinda like Bush's 'Blue Skys initiative :roll: ) I know you posted that video so people could get an idea of what's being discussed... but the guy who did the vid didn't even know the name of the road leading there... and kept calling the tunnel the spillway (which is an actual 'spillway' at the eastern extent of the dam) which leads me to believe he's NOT a local and made the video to show offroader friends a great place to go 'tear it up'. EGA's property runs from the tunnel (up to the top of the dam(s)) west to Flores Ranch. Another problem we have is that to the south we are bordered by Mojave Forks Regional Park property, who have equestrian areas where folks can ride their horses, and often ride them right through, and right WHEN we have hunters in the field (which we could lose our charter over)... so yeah... we have 'county' trespassers to deal with, which are situations which have to be dealt with, with a couple of things you may not have heard of... finesse and 'kid gloves'. Speaking of which... mine are coming off long enough to say... my salary comes from a private, for profit business... and your income comes from where??? Oh that's right... Taxpayer dollars. You are in no position to get snide about how I make my living, or how I feel about trespassers in general or any other topic related to this thread... which if YOU had been paying attention, you'd have noticed that I didn't bring any of this up (not my post) All I've been doing here is trying to provide a clear picture of the situation as it stands.... and the difficulties involved. Cause hey... what do I have to lose, cept my job. :roll:
I detect a change of attitude here from your part, Jim because I suspect you went public before you conferred with your employer and now they are pissed and you are being lambasted for it. Not my problem. In so far as source of income, my salary was funded by a non profit private organization for the past two years but this is not germane to the issue. The same etiquette holds true when it comes to an employer regardless of whether they are private or government in nature. Discuss with them first before you spill the beans. Now you are trying to cover up your mistake by tempering any possible action from people participating in this discussion who were trying to sincerely help you. Spare me. Want to make it better? Go and apologize to your boss and try to keep communication open with him in the future.
Truth be told... my 'bosses' do not yet know about this conversation, but will soon... and yes... I may get in hot water and/or possibly lose my job for this. I think you and I are in somewhat similar circumstances...we both work to protect herps... but can only do that during the times we are paid to be there. Difference is... your job is solely to protect and educate folks about herps, while in my case, it's just something I do, along with all my other 'duties' (which BTW, Do not include Toad protection, per se, except as in 'general land stewardship') My 'boss', Andy, is as straightforward and honest as anyone I know (which is why we get along so well) and since everything I've said here is true, and may have prevented additional 'headaches' for EGA... I'm hoping that will be taken into consideration. For the record, I have no authorization to speak for EGA. Satisfied? And... would you do the same? :|

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Re: Arroyo Toad Site Torn Up by Off-Road Vehicles

Post by Fundad » September 24th, 2014, 8:30 am

Jim wait to talk to us before you do anything. I really don't want you to get in any kind of trouble. OK?

I will see about the 4th.

Brian Hinds

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Re: Arroyo Toad Site Torn Up by Off-Road Vehicles

Post by klawnskale » September 24th, 2014, 8:39 am

Truth be told... my 'bosses' do not yet know about this conversation, but will soon... and yes... I may get in hot water and/or possibly lose my job for this. I think you and I are in somewhat similar circumstances...we both work to protect herps... but can only do that during the times we are paid to be there. Difference is... your job is solely to protect and educate folks about herps, while in my case, it's just something I do, along with all my other 'duties' (which BTW, Do not include Toad protection, per se, except as in 'general land stewardship') My 'boss', Andy, is as straightforward and honest as anyone I know (which is why we get along so well) and since everything I've said here is true, and may have prevented additional 'headaches' for EGA... I'm hoping that will be taken into consideration. For the record, I have no authorization to speak for EGA. Satisfied? And... would you do the same? :|[/quote]

While working during my previous appointments it was part of my job to alert my immediate supervisor regarding any situations which could affect the Preserve. This person was the Preserve Manager. She would then decide whether to have me handle it or if it required action from other resources.But I
always made sure she was aware of it first before it could be subjected to public scrutiny or attention. I would have probably talked with Andy about it first before discussing it publicly here. Then, if Andy decided he would like the help and input from a third party such as NAFHA and gave me the OK to discuss it publicly I would then include that third party in the discussion as per Andy's decision. But this is what I would do. You are different person and go about doing things your own way, so this is just a suggestion not a mandatory plan of action.

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Re: Arroyo Toad Site Torn Up by Off-Road Vehicles

Post by hellihooks » September 24th, 2014, 8:46 am

I stand by my actions, and will take any heat that comes from them... the only one I answer to is me. ;)

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