We have just received updated information regarding Union Pacific Railroad’s (UPRR) fence project from the BLM. As many of you might already be aware, UPRR has been installing a fence just inside their property line which extends 100’ from the centerline of the rail road tracks and encompasses essentially all of Wash Road. This project started in mid-November and will extend from approximately Highway 78 to the south; ending-point unknown at this time.
Until recently, UPRR was honoring a commitment made to the BLM to continue to allow public access down Wash Road, leaving an opening at each wash to allow for vehicular access; some openings being narrower than others and some openings more accessible than others, depending on the flow of the wash. To minimize the impact of these restricted openings to thousands of ISDRA visitors, the BLM has begun the necessary environmental procedures to be able to grade some of these openings to allow for better access into various wash openings.
After this past weekend, it was brought to our attention that it appeared that UPRR was changing their plans and access was becoming more and more limited along Wash Road. BLM met with UPRR representatives on February 4th to discuss their project and their prior agreement to continue to allow access, only to find out that they had changed their position and will close the road to all public traffic at some point in the future.
At the urging of the local BLM office, UPRR has agreed to allow the use of this road, hopefully, for the rest of this dune season but in all likelihood will restrict access for the 2009-2010 season.
Again at the request of the BLM, the contractor will be enlarging some of the openings in the fence to allow for access during the upcoming Presidents’ Day holiday weekend. This improved access may, at some locations, not accommodate large motor homes or extremely long trailers.The BLM has identified locations that they have prioritized for grading to remove berms to help improve access.
This is not the result that we hoped for but it is what we know at this point.
The ASA has been conferring with the BLM, our legislative contacts and our legal team to see what if anything can be done to allow continued use of UPRR’s right of way. We will also be working to see what it will take to have a new access road constructed on the BLM land to allow access to these traditional camping areas. The construction of a new access road is a long term solution to this problem.
The ASA has sent a letter to the UPRR management to express our concerns about the closing of this road to the public and the loss of access to recreation camping areas.
In closing, please watch for updates via emails and/or the ASA's Bulletin Board as new information becomes available.
American Sand Association
Phone: (888) 540-7263
Fax: (951) 242-1332
Labels: Glamis, Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area, Union Pacific Railroad, Wash Road