Cycle News - Archive Issues - 1980's

Cycle News 1980 01 30

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Diggers in Wonderland E IThe on, off, • on-again Red Garter Enduro 00 ~ ..... By P. J. Clark On Dec. 13, 1979 a Special Use Permit was signed in the Forest Supervisor's office of the Los Padres National Forest to allow the Red Garter Enduro to be held on March 16, 1980 in the Ballinger Canyon area. "The Din Diggers Motorcycle Club has a copy of this signed permit in their possession, the result of a two-year battle. 16 The Red Garter had been held successfully in the Ballinger Canyon area during the years of 1975. 1975. 1976 and 1977. During these years, it was "ormal to prepare for the event based on a verbal approval by the Forest ~r vice. usually. receiving the written. signed permit the day of the enduro or the day following. In other words, these were still the days when a person's word meant something. The only problems encountered during these years stemmed from Forest ~rvice indecision as to where the entrants should camp. In 1973 and 1975 the Dirt Diggers were told that camping must be confined to the limits of Ballinger Cnayon Camp. ground. After both of these events, the Dirt Diggers were commended by the Forest Service on the condition in which the campground area was left. In 1976 the Forest Service would ap· prove the permit only if the camp· ground was not utilized for camping. The Dirt Diggers obtained camping permission from a private property owner whose land lay nearby. The Dirt Diggers even went so far as to obtain a five year conditional u~ permit from Ventura County to insure a yearly place for camping for the enduro. Then in 1977. the Forest ~rvice reversed their decision, and would approve the permit only if the campground was utilized for camping and not private property. In Dec. 1977, following the go-day filing requirement. the Dirt Diggers applied to the Forest ~rvice for a permit to hold the Red Gater in March, 1978. The Forest Service District Ranger stated that a new impact analysis had to be performed but it wouldn't take much time. The ranger intimated there would be no problems. This was a yearly require· ment for the permit and the Dirt Diggers believed this to be the reason the written permit was normally received so late. The club proceeded with normal event preparations. obtaining permission from private property owners whose property the proposed course would cross (at this time only verbal permission was required). doing general course preparation. and advertising. No problems were anticipated. During this winter of 1977-1978 there was heavy rainfall and snow in this area. causing extensive flooding and erosion. The road into Ballinger Can· yon was completely destroyed. leaving six-foot gullies in some places. Since this was a Forest Service right of way road. the Forest Service intended to repair it. but the Sierra Club obtained a court injunction against the rebuild· ing of the road on the grounds that the Ballinger Canyon area was the habitat of the endangered species of the Blunt Nosed Leopard Lizard. Combined with this problem was the fact that the Forest ~rvice did not have -time to complete their impact analysis. The permit was in limbo neither approved or denied. The event was cancelled. In May the Dirt Diggers applied for a permit to hold the Red Garter in Ballinger Canyon in October. ~ring the summer of 1978. the Ridge Riders M.C. and a few others, on their own, repaired the road into Ballinger Canyon. Conveniently during the same time. the court injunction was lifted, allowing the road to be rebuilt. The Dirt Diggers were in constant contact with the Forest ~rvice from May through October. The question asked and the answer were consistent: "What is the status of our permit?" .. It will be approved soon." October 1978 came and went with neither an approval or a denial to the permit. Again the event was cancelled. In November 1978 the Dirt Diggers contacted the Forest Supervisor and demanded an answer on their application for permit. (A new application was submitted for Marl'h 18. 1979). On Jan. 5. 1979 a letter was received from Mr. Allen West. the Forest Supervisor. stating the application for a permit had been denied. The reasons given were primarily: 1) The inability of Ballinger Campground to accommo· date the large number of people anti· cipated, and 2.) The inappropriateness of encouraging OV~ of adjacent private lands that allo contain ~nsitive lizard habitat. The Dirt Diggers contacted the Dis· trict 37 Legal Defe~ Fund and appealed this denial for obvious reasons. Mr. West granted a hearing on Feb. 20. 1979. The Dirt Diggers attended this meeting, along with Bob Terrazas of the D-37 Legal Defe~ Fund and George Stephan, D-37 Legal Def~ Fund attorney. In this meeting the Dirt Diggers agreed to find a piece of property outside Ballinger Canyon, ~ure permission from the property owner. and to u~ this property for camping as well as the start/finish location of the event. The Forest ~r vice suggested a field that was planted with crop becau~ this type of land was not considered lizard habitat. Mr. Stephan reminded Mr. West that private property was not under Forest Service jurisdiction. Mr. West then reversed his denial and verbally approved the permit. The Dirt Diggers asked Mr. West specifically on two ~parate occasions if they then had a permit. Mr. West said yes and after the ~ond time asked stated that the only reason a written pennit could not be ~red that very day was that his ~cretary was out. He added that the permit would be ~nt to the Dirt Diggers the following day. The Dirt Diggers left the hearing. assured of a permit. and again..began event preparations. A copy of the permit. unsigned, was received by the Dirt Diggers. One of the conditions of the permit was that all private property owner permissions must be obtained in writing. The Dis· trict Ranger was contacted and he stated that those permissions, the written permission of the property owner on whose land the Dirt Diggers in· tended to camp and start/finish the event. and a ~ course map show· ing this change must be in his office no later than March 16. 1979. At that time the permit would be signed. This was a tough assignment becau~ many of the property owners live out of the area, some even out of state and time was short. The Din Diggers tackled this added task beca~ they had a man's word, in front of witnesses, that they had a permit and this additional task would ~re the signa· ture. All required written pennisllions were obtained by the deadline, and the course map was~. On March 8 the Din Diggers received a telephone call from Mr. Zane Smith, the Regional Forester. He said that he had received word from the Sierra Club that they intended to appeal the permit issuance, but that they had had insufficient time to gather their information. He added that he might have to issue a stay on the permit for this reason. Mr. Smith, when queried. said that a "stay" is not a revocation. only a postponement. The Din Digge)'S said that if the permil were going to be revolted that they must be notified no later than Monday moming. March 12. 1979 in order that sufficient time would be available to notify all riders. many of whom were coming from out of state. Mr. Smith said he understood this reo quest. The Dirt Diggers continued with event preparations after contacting the D·37 Legal Def~ Fund. During the late afternoon of Mon· day. March 12. 1979. the Dirt Diggen received a telephone call from Dave Alexander. the District Ranger. asking what the Din Diggers were doing about the event. When he was told that they were proceeding with preparations as normal. he stated that Mr. Smith had issued a stay on the permit. He further stated that a stay was only a postpone· menl of the issuance of the permit. The Dirt Diggers countered with lhe statement that the permit had already been issued according to Mr. West and that signature would follow the submittal of paperwork on Friday, March 16. He ignored this statement and repealed that lhe permit was stayed pending appeal of Issuance by the Sierra Club. He further stated that no formal appeal had yet been received. and therefore no grounds for appeal had as yet been given. He continued that it would be illegal to hold the event without a permit. Bob Terrazas and George Slephan were contacted. Mr. Stephan suggested that a suit be filed for a restraining order against the stay and that the Dirt Diggers proceed with the event. A Federal Coun hearing was scheduled for Thursday. March 15. Legal repr~ntarives in allendance at this hearing werel Mr. Stephan, D37 Legal Defe~ Fund; Mr. Arnold, Department of Agriculture; and Mr. Silver, Sierra Club Legal Def~ Fund. Even lhough the suit for a restraining order was filed against the Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. Mr. Silver was allowed to speak first. He stated, in ~nce. that motorcycle riding on public land is a privilege. not a right. Since no permit had been issued 10 give this right. no right had been taken away. Therefore, it was not under the jurisdiction of the Court and til<- ca~ should not be heard. Judge Takasugi ruled not to hear the case, stating it was under the jurisdiction of the Forest ~rvice to handle the mailer. A meeting was requested immedi· ately following lhe session in court. Mr. Smith congralulated the Dirt Diggers on their professional method of handling them~lves. He stated that in the past they had always done what was requested of them. The Dirt Diggers thanked him for his praise and asked him what was going on then? He said that any penon had the right to appeal the issuance of a permit. The Sierra Club chose to exercise this option and he had to make a choice to issue the permit or to issue the stay. He chose to issue the stay. The Dirt Diggers reminded him that no formal appeal had been issued by the Sierra Club. only a notice of intention to appeal. Mr. Smith said that the problem was a time factor. After a permit is issued. a period of 30 days is granted for appeal. Since. technically. Mr. West granted verbal approval to the permit on Feb. 20 only 28 days were allotted until event date. The Dirt Diggers then stated that apparently Mr. West's word was nol any good in this matter. Mr. Smith stated that. indeed. Mr. West's word was good but only when he had the authority. In this ca~ he did not. Nothing was resolved at this meet· ing. except the cancellation of the event. The Din Diggers left in a state of bewildenr. "lit. The Jlorest Service Regional Forester had said that the Dirt DiJo:l!'ers had done everything that had been required of them, bUl yeot. they could not have a permil. On Friday. March 16, the course was complelely cleaned of ribbon and all other markings. Telephone calling began early in the morning and continued through Saturday morning. notifying all entrants of lhe cancellation. Almost everyone asked the same question. "Whal happened?" The Dirl DigRen could not tell them. They had taken a man's word (the Foresl Super. visor) thai they had a permit. the Sierra Club became involved and all of a sudden they had no permit. Many of the riders offC'red their entry fet' to be used by the Din DigRers 10 continue the fiRhl. Many offered lheir lime and ~rvicl'S as well. wh..rC'Ver il mav he nerded. .

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