Off-roaders to protest land closure Sunday
Off-road enthusiasts are expected to gather Sunday along Pine Nut Road near where the Bureau of Land Management has closed 2,340 acres of public land to protect mastodon fossils found there.
Cheryl Aiken, a 15-year Ruhenstroth resident, said she expects hundreds of off-road riders to gather around 11 a.m. to noon.
“I’m putting up fliers around the neighborhood today,” she said. “People need to show up this Sunday and every Sunday. We don’t want this to turn into Ruby Mountain or anything, but people don’t like what the BLM is doing.”
Aiken said her 9-year-old son took it hard when he learned he won’t be able to ride his ATV into the Pine Nuts anymore. Being able to ride an all-terrain vehicle from her back yard was one of the reasons she moved to the area, she said.
“We go out as a family,” she said. “We’ll go get sandwiches, then get on our quads, eat our sandwiches and take in the beauty.”
Nate Littrell, president of the Pine Nut Mountain Trail Association, said he is meeting with a representative of the BLM and a paleontologist on Saturday to talk about closing the area.
“They are going to have a hard time enforcing this from a practical standpoint,” he said.
Littrell said the group, which is not associated with Sunday’s protest, has worked with the BLM in the past and he hopes to find a compromise.
“We’ve done a lot of good things together,” he said. “We’ve cooperated on clean-ups and pulled about a dozen cars out of there. So, we’ve done some productive things in addition to complaining and fighting for our rights.”
Littrell questioned the selection of the site for the closure.
“When they closed a portion of Wilson Canyon, they closed a truly sensitive area,” Littrell said. “There is really some non-sensitive land they’re calling critical and when they do that they lose credibility.”
Stan Gaworski, a member of the association and past president, said public comment wasn’t sought prior to the closure.
Gaworski has lived in Johnson Lane for 22 years and moved to the area so he could ride dirt bikes.
“You can’t believe the number of people who move out here just to ride and have access to the Pine Nuts,” he said.
Contact Kurt Hildebrand at email@example.com or 881-1215.