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Ocotillo Wells SVRA, The Rest of the Story. Where is the Rest of the OHV Access Community?


Demurrer

An assertion by the defendant that although the facts alleged by the plaintiff in the complaint may be true, they do not entitle the plaintiff to prevail in the lawsuit.

In December 2013, the California Off-Road Vehicle Association (CORVA) released a statement “The California Off-Road Vehicle Association Gives the OHV Community a Victory for Ocotillo Wells SVRA”. Many ORBA Members have asked, “Where is our association?” “We thought ORBA was working with CMRC and local stakeholders on this item?” The simple answer is, yes, we are actively engaged in the defense of the Ocotillo Wells SVRA. I hope to shed some light on the position ORBA, and many other California OHV access groups have taken on this item.

 

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Ecologic Partners, (ORBA, ASA, AMA D37) and the Tierra del Sol 4WD club recently prevailed in a suit with California State Parks concerning trail closures in the Truckhaven Hills of Ocotillo Wells SVRA. Professional strategies similar to this have provided the reserve funding necessary for the proper legal intervention when necessary. The winning combination agreed to continue the relationship concerning the PEER lawsuit, and build a strategy to defend California State Parks, and the Ocotillo Wells SVRA should the need arise.

Following the successful collaborative efforts in Johnson Valley, the California Motorized Recreation Council (CMRC) organized a sub-committee that would allow stakeholders an opportunity to gain valuable knowledge concerning the pending litigation. In addition, CMRC hoped to curb the rampant fund raising efforts that seemed to be springing up in support of Ocotillo Wells, but could not be traced to any organization. As a community, we have a habit of asking for money with little to no planning and without clear definition of our expectations. CMRC hoped to explain that Ecologic Partners and TDS had enough seed money to defend the first round if necessary, and build a written plan that would explain our required investment, how we would meet our goals, and where the money would be spent. CMRC would act as a supporting agent to Ecologic and TDS when called upon.

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In support of the Parks Department Attorney General case, TDS and Ecologic Partners’ attorney advised them that it would be more appropriate to file as interveners after the court had ruled on the demurrer that the AG had filed. In addition, it would not be a wise use of membership funds to file any action before the court had ruled on the Demurrer since the case did not seem to have any wings.  The parties agreed to save the valuable funds for when the time was right.

The cost to prematurely file in the case was estimated to cost Ecologic Partners and TDS between $7000-$10,000, with little or noreturn on investment since it was expected that the court would ask PEER to amend their complaint.

If the court allows the case to go to trial, Ecologic Partners and TDS attorneys are prepared to file as an intervener in the case. Using our membership investment wisely has positioned us to create a proactive strategy that includes stakeholders from outside the Ecologic Partners/TDS union.  Bringing multiple associations to the same table allows us a larger brain trust and unique opportunity to send a unified message to those that oppose motorized access. This is the same winning formula that served us well in Johnson Valley, and allows a larger group to build on the proper use of funding andexperience. It also allows us a larger resource pool that can be used in ways we have previously been unable to implement.  “Boots on the ground” remains one of the most valuable assets in motorized recreation access fights with a larger group in support of those who know the area, have passion and an intimate knowledge of the area. TDS has proven to be excellent stewards of this area and afford the group the ability of a window into Ocotillo Wells.  

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While the larger collection of motorized recreation access advocates may not have found a value in filing prematurelyjustto make some noise, it is safe to say that the wide selection of user groups collaborating together on this item have learned the value of the dollar. Fighting against those that hope to deny access has proven to be a lot easier when you have a strong alliance.

The following associations have contributed and committed to supporting California State Parks as a single voice if the need should arise:

·      Tierra del Sol 4WD Club

·      Ecologic Partners

American Sand Association (ASA),

American Motorcyclists Association District 37(AMAD37)

Off Road, Off Road Business Association.(ORBA)

·      California Motorized Recreation Council

American Sand Association (ASA),

American Motorcyclists Association District 37 (AMA D37)

Off Road, Off Road Business Association (ORBA)

AMA D36,

AMA National,

California Association of 4WD Clubs,

California Nevada Snowmobile Association.

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