Last Friday's community meeting on off-highway vehicle use at Tolowa Dunes State Park drew a packed house to the Elk Valley Community Center.
Obviously, many, many people in Del Norte County are intensely interested in this issue. And perhaps half of those people came away from that meeting very unhappy with what they heard.
California State Parks officials unveiled their Tolowa Dunes management plan, which bans all vehicles from inland dunes and limits motorized use of Kellogg Beach to street-legal vehicles only. This means those popular OHVs that resemble four-wheeled motorcycles are banned from Tolowa Dunes State Park and the adjacent beach.
The management plan does allow for street-legal vehicles to drive on the beach north of Kellogg Road at speeds of up to 15 mph during daylight hours. It also allows commercial fishermen with proper permits to drive on the wave slope south of Kellogg Road.
State parks officials touted these allowances as a compromise. But OHV enthusiasts saw it as a government "taking" of their right to enjoy this form of recreation.
This management plan may well be the last word on OHV use in Tolowa Dunes State Park and on adjacent Kellogg Beach. But somehow we don't think we've heard the end of this story. In fact, we hope we haven't.
While we are in agreement with the state park management plan including the ban on OHVs in the aforementioned areas we do think we ought to be able to find a place for people who enjoy rip-roaring around in the sand on their off-road rigs.
But we'll be wasting our time and energy and only stoking the anger that seems to bubble around these issues in Del Norte County if we focus solely on ways to overturn the state parks management plan. Plain and simple, it's not going to happen.
The state park and the state-owned beach in question belong to everyone in California not just to folks here in Del Norte. By law, they must be managed for the greater public good. Like it or not, the interests of millions statewide will always outweigh the desires of a few thousand locals.
So let's direct our attention to identifying and acquiring if necessary land in Del Norte County that will accommodate OHV recreation. We would like to see the Board of Supervisors convene a committee to research options and facilitate a search for a county OHV park.
The sooner we quit grumbling about things we can't change and get to work on those things we can control, the faster our friends with OHVs can get back on track.
The Daily Triplicate