Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Off-roaders get temporary ticket to ride

Better than a Beatles song, off-road enthusiasts got the First Court of Appeal to postpone the closing of Carnegie State Vehicular Recreation Area southwest of Tracy.

Ride on, man, ride on.

But the cheers likely won't last. It will only be a temporary reprive the backers of a lawsuit to clean up Corral Hollow Creek convince the court that significant harm would be done if the park remains open until it has a permit and an improved management plan.

Wading into this matter is sticky business.

On one side: Thousands of people looking to have a good time riding trails in the hills, who also likely bring a fair amount of money to the local economy, as plenty riders don't call Tracy home. Also, the state Parks and Recreation Department, which runs Carnegie.

On the other side: Environmentalists who point to high levels of pollution in Corral Hollow Creek and evidence suggesting it's the off-road activity that's fouling the creekbed.

Complicating the matter: The creek is mostly dry, even during the wet season; The area was historically home to mining and industry and has a Superfund site as a neighbor; Another neighbor with a ranch nearby has had a hand in the lawsuit process.

And, of course, there's the mutual suspicion that seems inborn between environmentalists and off-roaders.

Listing the players and plays, however, doesn't make sorting out the game any easier.

The off-roaders, for their part, just want a place to play. It's a place that's been their home for years, and Carnegie wasn't exactly a pristine piece of land before the trail-masters hit the dirt. Given that, and how many people use the popular park, it makes sense for the local economy (and the spirit of good fun) to keep Carnegie open.

However, environmentalists like Bill Jennings of the plantiff California Sportsfishing Alliance have a legitimate beef in wanting to keep waterways — even mostly dry ones like Corral Hollow Creek — free of heavy metals and other poisons. And, let's face it, off-roaders don't have a repuation as the kindest stewards of the land.

It seems compromise is the order of the day. The least-disruptive alternative would be to keep the park open while an environmental protection plan and water permit are worked out by the interested parties. That keeps riders riding, businesses in business, and environmentalists protecting the environment.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Ah common..... u can say it ... it starts with a C and he is always suing someone when they are too close to his home.... oh while his wife lives in city limits!

Family atmosphere, great outdoor fun.... without shooting a gun.... Mr. C hates that!