When we wrote our first California guidebook back in 2003, about half of Glamis Dunes south of Highway 78 was closed to motorized use. Environmental groups, led by the Sierra Club, had managed to close 49,000 acres to protect what they said was an endangered plant, called the Peirson’s Milk-Vetch. We were told it was just temporary and not to worry. But to be safe, we showed the “Temporary Closure” boundary on our maps (Pages 234 and 236 in Guide to Southern California Backroads & 4-Wheel Drive Trails).
In April of 2014, more than ten years later, we published our new California guidebook. And guess what, that “Temporary Closure” was still in place. We asked ourselves, should we drop the word “Temporary” on our new map (Page 215 in the new book). After all, the area had been closed now for a total of 14 years. After talking to a few knowledgeable friends at the American Sand Association, we were assured the battle to reopen the area was still ongoing. Reluctantly, we decided to stick with the “Temporary” designation.
To our surprise, on May 3, less than a month after our new book came out, the closure signs were taken down. (See the just-released June/July issue of IN GEAR magazine which can be downloaded free at www.cal4wheel.com.) One of the biggest battles in motorized recreational history had been won.* Our thanks go out the American Sand Association, the Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, many other off-road organizations and all who have donated to the cause over the years.
Our first exposure to Imperial Sand Dunes was with our first book in 2003. We never had a chance to explore the closed areas, which we understand from the IN GEAR story, has some choice riding spots, including The Wall, The Ledge and The Airplane Crash Site.
*Although most of the area is now open, there is still a critical strip of land still closed just north of Patton Valley. Access from the west side of many southern dunes is still blocked. So the battle is not over. If you would like to help, send a donation to the American Sand Association, 26316 Legacy Ct., Hemet, CA 92544.