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BLM California News.bytes 
News.bytes Extra, issue 534

El Centro’s Youth Corps Wraps Up Season in America’s Great Outdoors

workers set up sticks and plantings in the desert
The crew hard at work in the Yuha Desert. 

Just as temperatures began to climb in the Imperial Valley, 24 student interns from the American Conservation Experience (ACE) finished up work restoring the desert of impacts caused by illegal off-highway (OHV) activity.  The students spent the last 5 months toiling in the East Mesa, Yuha Desert, and Eastern Imperial County, painstakingly erasing these impacts – using only hand tools.

Logging almost 14,000 hours of labor, the crews restored over 44 acres of desert to its natural condition.   While they were at it, they removed 1,200 pounds of trash (mostly target shooting debris), handed out informational material to OHV visitors recreating in the area, eliminated illegal campsites within the Yuha Area of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC), and replaced or installed over 100 route signs.

With the successful season behind them, crew leader Andrew Clark took the time to reflect on the experience, recognizing “a deep appreciation of the beauty of the resource area and its ecological and cultural significance.” He said, “The BLM staff went out of their way to educate our crew members and to provide career development and mentoring opportunities.”

The work was possible through a California OHV Restoration (green sticker) grant awarded to the El Centro Field Office for just this reason.  The landscape was restored by physically erasing impacts through raking, vegetation, natural barriers, etc.  Visitors are reminded to travel only on designated routes of travel; cross country travel is not permitted in these areas.

For more information, or to obtain Routes of Travel maps for Eastern Imperial County (available) and Western Imperial County (pending), please contact the El Centro Field Office at 760-337-4400, or visit our web page at www.blm.gov/ca/elcentro.

workers along wheel tracks in the desert
Before - A heavily used illegal route in the East Mesa.

brush beside a dirt track
After- The same area restored to its natural condition.

- Photos: BLM/ACE

 - Joya Szalwinski, interpretive park ranger, Imperial Sand Dunes/BLM El Centro Field Office (June 2012)

BLM-California News.bytes, issue 534 -- To subscribe to News.bytes, send an e-mail to: mailto:Join-Newsbytes@List.ca.blm.gov OR visit our News.bytes subscription page.

Last updated: 06-06-2012