Recreational Access and Conservation - Conservation and Public Service Activities Short Cuts

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Dedicated to conservation and multiple use of public lands for recreation opportunities.

Edited by: John Stewart

What Happens When....???

The Wildlands Conservancy as a Property Owner

Pipes Canyon Preserve - Closed
Photo by: Ed Stevens

Image: Pipes Canyon Preserve - Closed

In 1998, the Wildlands Conservancy assumed control of a parcel of land bounded by Bureau of Land Management and San Bernadino National Forest (SBNF) public lands in an area generally known as Pipes Canyon. (For location, refer to USGS "RIMROCK" topographical Quadrangle map). This area lies west of 29 Palms, CA.

Soon after acquiring the property, signs were posted at the west end of Pipes Canyon, the boundary of BLM and San Bernadino National Forest public lands and the Wildlands Conservancy property. A gate was placed on the San Bernadino National Forest end of Pipes Canyon, about two miles east of the Pipes Canyon Campground. The canyon was closed.

Soon after the gates were in place, the Wildlands Conservancy ripped the existing dirt road on a section of their property with heavy equipment. They also expanded the river bottom to remove all trace of the prior road and eliminate any vehicle passage in this section. The "road" is impassable in this area. Passage from 29 Palms through Pipes Canyon by the existing road to the San Bernadino National Forest has been eliminated.

Pipes Canyon Road is a RS2477 route that predates the US Forest Service reservation of the San Bernadino National Forest. It is open on the SBNF as a designated "Street Legal Vehicle Only" OHV route. It is adopted on the SBNF side by the Freelanders 4x4 Club of Arcadia. Pipes Canyon Campground is unmaintained at this time and, pending resolution Roadless Rule, may soon be closed.

The US Forest Service has no jurisdiction on the private Wildlands Conservancy property holding, even if it restricts historic access to the National Forest public lands.

Pipes Canyon Road is a National Historic Trail, the "29 Palms National Historic Trail." It is a recognized historic Pioneer and Native American migration route from 29 Palms to the Big Bear Valley.

Pipes Canyon Road is shown on AAA maps, the Thomas Brothers Guide map series, USGS and USFS maps. Each map reflects a through road. Each map records the legal prescriptive easement granted to the public. Each is obsolete. The Pipes Canyon Road has been eliminated from history.

Pipes Canyon Road is within the "Roadless Area" reserve identified for the SBNF.

The Wildlands Conservancy goal is to incorporate this private holding with Roadless Area and Bighorn Sheep and Whitewater Wilderness reservations to provide an unbroken Wilderness Corridor from San Gorgonio to the Cajon Pass. This is part of the larger Southern California Wildlands Strategy being pursued by the Wildlands Conservancy.

This same perimeter closure strategy is being enabled in the Eastern Sierra Front Country. Restrict the border land on the perimeter of the forest, and the forest is essentially closed to all recreation. Review the Roadless Rule impact on the Sierra Nevada front country areas (Sequoia, Inyo, and Mono National Forests) bounded by the Los Angles Department of Water and Power holdings. The picture will fill in as a near total closure of the Sierra Nevada Mountains and White Mountains from Owens Lake in the south to Mono Lake in the north.

Pipes Canyon Road - Gated and Closed
Photo by: Ed Stevens

Image: Pipes Canyon Road - Gated and Closed
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