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WEMO access amendments written comment

We have until 10/17 for written comments to the scoping for the latest WEMO motorized access plans. Please let the BLM know why you like to visit the desert by car , bike , etc !


To whom it may concern,

I am a native of Southern California, and spent childhood years in the Adelanto area. I have raised my own family here in Ridgecrest for the last 24 years. I have given car tours to the public in the El Paso Mountains area for several non profit organizations. Additionally I have started the Friends of Last Chance Canyon, a 501c3 organization to help preserve and maintain the Bickel Camp depression era cabin and surroundings in the El Pasos. Of great interest to me in decision criteria regarding these WEMO areas are public access and education. I feel all access – especially motorized – is key to sharing our history and enlightening people to the ways our ancestors lived. Education is also key to keeping riders on trails, along with penalties, for without the risk people tend to wander to explore. I don’t feel we should close all routes but one into an area , as this channels people into one over used route also increasing likelihood for accidents. With closure of OHV areas there will be a huge amount of increased traffic for those few areas allowed access. When areas already designated as OHV are withdrawn from access, equal amounts of land must be allocated for the off-road enthusiast, this is only fair. Hopefully these ideas can be used as important decision criteria, not just lumped under a subheading of “other” to indicate little interest. I know of several unique viewing areas with spectacular views that I take people on tour to, in order to see vistas that range for 50 miles, see signs of native American habitation, rock collect for allowable fossils and minerals, view wildflowers, etc. These hobbies and interests require access!


Charles Hattendorf – pres Friends of Last Chance Canyon
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Pot Luck dinner and FLCC meeting 10_22_11

Pot Luck dinner and FLCC meeting at the camp Saturday October 22nd ! We'll have hot dogs and hamburgers for FLCC members, please let me know if you can bring a side dish - the weather should be great too, it's cooling off here now. We can catch up on camp happenings and talk about the WEMO route designation process too....Hope to seeya there! - charlie

Larry and Danny

I thought I'd post a picture of Larry O'Neil and Danny Papacalos at the camp, I think about 2004. both vets of WWII, Larry was an ex-Marine, injured in Iwo Jima, Danny was ex-Navy served on the Wichita and other ships and was at Hiroshima shortly after VJ day. Larry was Walt's ex-son in law and lived at the camp from 1986 to 2005 as caretaker and miner, Danny came into the canyon in 1954 a year after Burro Schmidt passed, and worked and lived at the Calsilco mine and Colorado camp, Ricardo gas station etc. Both were good friends of Walt, mining together and had some great stories of life in the canyon. Good guys for sure!

Burro Schmidt Cabin


A friend and I went dry washing at Bonanza Gulch, and did a little detecting too. I was surprised to see the flash flood from just a few days ago, when it had rained at my house too. Bonanza had some serious flowing happening, you can see where boulders were tossed and the mud just down from Sears was several feet thick. The wash was flowing from one side to another near the Johnson cabin, and the road across the wash has lots of rocks in ti now. Nature certainly did some readjusting in the canyon! EP 15 is fine as it has been worked by the camp, and the culvert near Calsilco was restored from the washout. Here's a couple of pics:

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Mark Aslin, Chuck, and Mark Algazy were having a good time at the camp this weekend. Mark AL brought some firewood in for the camp, I brought some propane and gasoline too. We chewed the fat for awhile about access, land cruiser repair, politics, and even high school antics.
Road signing in the canyon (now complete to the 1985-87 inventory apparently), FJC (friends of Jawbone Canyon) had helped the BLM get the signs out, as all signs have to be in by a 2014 date. I drove around some and found several routes not signed, but others were that I had doubts would be counted, so all is not lost. The EP499 route goes from past the Sears cabin in Bonanza, up the gulch to the ruins (on the topo) eastward over the mesa by Mesa Springs and back down to EP30, I had thought this route would be unmarked (closed) but there it was. Another route goes from EP30 down Mesa Springs back into EP30, which allows access into the back side of the Tip Top claim. Several roads into the state park off EP15 had been signed by the BLM while others weren't, like Connie Rath's place and the Lee Springs had no sign but I think it still will be open.
So I heard from last night's BLM meeting that there will be a public scoping meeting within the next 30 days (or announced during that time) and I'll let everyone know when and where and how to add email or phone input - I'm sure FJC will let others know too. We have to have our voices heard, I also will be getting a web address to the map and pass that along asap. In the mean time I have pics - the first shows a road on top of the mesa just to the west of Bonanza, no sign = closed.

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Well this isn't Bickel Camp ! but everytime I've talked recently with Mark at the camp we've discussed fishing, so here are some pics from my latest trip with Ian. We were near Black Rock fish hatchery past Independance. Fishing wasn't very good, but the weather was great.

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Greetings folks,
There’s been a lot happening regarding access in the El Paso Mountains, and renewable energy in Indian Wells Valley here in Ridgecrest. The latest BLM meeting greeted us with news that due to the WEMO related law suit in San Francisco by the CBD, and resultant finding in their favor, the BLM must re-justify all access roads it has marked since then, and use out dated and ill-conceived data sets from 1985 through 1987 in the El Paso Mountains to mark routes today. I remember in 1987 or so when a low flying aircraft was seen a lot over Bickel Camp area, shortly after there had been a good rainfall which unfortunately covered many routes. The “data” from these flights has been used by the BLM to mark routes that existed then, and the marking of those routes is now being done in the El Pasos. Routes without markers are considered closed from the BLM’s point of view. At the end of the route marking, in 2014, the public is allowed a comment period to lobby for route designation according to the latest BLM meeting. The BLM has also already culled duplicate routes, and dead end routes, so what we’ll see marked in the next couple of weeks there will not be all that existed even back then. Maps have not been distributed of the route system, so lots of questions are in the air regarding our access to rock hounding, 4wd routes, view spots, hunting areas, favorite camping areas, etc. I’ll attempt to get some maps and distribute as soon as they’re available. I do remember seeing an 85-87 route map at the BLM then and it had routes that didn’t exist and several that did that were not marked, just in the Bickel Camp and Bonanza areas. It certainly was not a map that had been proven on the ground. I believe also the BLM will enact a fee based access sticker for the El Pasos some day soon. At least we’ll be able to still get to the camp, cabins and claims in the nearby area.
The German-held company known as Solar Millenium has changed its name to “Solar Trust of America”, and is thinking of refilling its application to be closer to Ridgecrest, out of the area near Black Mountain and closer to highway 395 on both sides now, nearer the landfill area. This is not good news, and even though the Navy, EPA and public have come out against the building, the money this company would get back on its investment makes it a lucrative proposition from where they sit. The company is also considering changing from solar trough to photo voltaic, reducing water consumption. The land impacted by this development is owned by Ridgecrest developers too, as well as a few thousand acres is under BLM control. No provision for land disturbance have I seen with this project, with thousands of acres dozed and leveled and not covered in any way, left to blow in the wind….. not a good idea!
I’d like to end on an upward note, so here’s to hoping to see you soon in the hills also known as our public land! I think voicing your concern is a good thing and lets the government know you’re involved rather than not interested. Take care folks and seeya up there!
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Just wanted to share that Mark, Dawn and Chuck at the camp were doing well yesterday. I met a new member too after spending most of the day getting dirty looking for heavy yellow stuff. Mark and Chuck could use propane / gasoline if anyone can spare any. It sure was pretty there, plenty of small flowers still out. I saw a swarm of bees too, the second one I've seen this spring. I've not seen any in the 24 years living here, and with the strange bee activity going on this is different I think. I also had bees attracted to my hat when I was taking breaks in the shade, which is weird. They ignored water I set out for them so it must've been minerals in the sweat or something they were after.
Save the bees, sweat a lot!!!
seeya folks - take plenty of water when visiting the desert these days....
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Well, when you want to write more than a sentence or two, facebook doesn't fit the bill! So I finally made it back to Bickel Camp today, and was surprised to meet Chuck Brewer who I had conversed with and who has now settled into being another camp caretaker to help Mark - pretty cool! Chuck is an ol' timer having lived/worked a lot in Bonanza Gulch, Summit Dry Diggins (some 20 years I believe) and in the Kernville/Kelso Valley area. Turns out I'd seen his truck around but had never met the guy, full of stories and he loves the camp too. Mark was in great spirits as well, and he welcomes the help for sure, seeing an avaerage of 75 people a weekend, not counting holidays where there's a ton more of course.
The weather was really nice, I checked out the Tip Top claim, and saw where FJC and BLM had put signs around a dangerous tunnel opening, which I think was a good idea. Here are pictures of Chuck, Mark, my "new" FJ60 with custom roof rack (yow!) and the fenced area located at the south west corner of the claim. I also ran into David Ayers and it was great to see him. He'd been at the camp for the last week. I also met John and Bob who are FLCC members. Good times and I hope to go up and dig in a weekend or two, fishing is also calling out to me too take care folks and seeya in the hills -
last chance charlie

Chuck Brewer

Mark Aslin

FJ60 "BB" for beige bomber or boat or?

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Please check out Facebook entries for FLCC too, as I think it's a bit easier to use for everyone. Thanks!