City Council vote deflates off-roaders
December 18, 2001
By Marianne Love
AZUSA -- The City Council will recommend the U.S. Forest Services ban
off-road vehicles in an area about 11 miles north of the city.
The council agreed to make the recommendation despite protests from about
100 off-road enthusiasts.
Councilman Dave Hardison, an off-roader and longtime Azusa resident, said
his vote wasn't against off-roaders but for clean water.
"I was never a fan of the park," Hardison said. "I find it hard to believe
that gas tanks won't get punctured and leak into the water."
At issue is Rincon OHV Route, a 150-acre area along the San Gabriel River
adjacent to Highway 39. Off-roaders say the park - a perfect blend of
water, mud and dust - is one of the few places where they can enjoy their
sport. But environmentalists and those in the water industry say
off-roaders are contaminating the river with gas and oil.
The Forest Service, which took control of the off-highway area in 1988, is
expected to complete its forest plan by December, 2003 and is taking input
on the plan.
The Forest Service will make the final call on whether off-roaders stay or
Members of Azusa Canyon Off-Road Association say the council's decision
takes away a great form of recreation for families. They say they abide by
the laws and leave the canyon area cleaner than when they arrived.
"There's no effect on the water," said Kelle Brydon, of Simi Valley.
Mike Bishop, president of the 200-member organization, said the group is
protecting the area and brings income to Azusa by patronizing restaurants
and businesses and filling up 35-plus gallon gas tanks every week.
"I have a sense of frustration," Bishop said, after the council's
decision. "Frustration because I don't know how to fight them
Group members claim environmental extremists started the claim that
off-roaders endanger the native sucker fish. Then the migratory birds.
Then the dust. Now the water.
"This is the last straw to close down public access to public land," said
Peter DiPrimo of Simi Valley and a member of the Ventura County Axle
Snappers Four Wheel Drive Club.
But Tim Schuddar, who lives above the off-road park, said he is affected
by the dust. He said off-roaders are polluting the riverbed.
He said that if 100 gallons of gas found its way into the river, it's
enough to contaminate the entire San Gabriel reservoir.
Off-road enthusiasts attending the meeting said they are blamed for
everything that goes wrong.
"I'm afraid of losing (the access to off-roading)," said Hacienda Heights
resident Joey Sotomayor. "Where are we going to go?"
-- Marianne Love can be reached at (626) 962-8811, Ext. 2108, or by e-mail
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