I spoke with a gentleman named Randy Banis recently about this concept. He is one of the God father's of the desert out here and knows more about So Cal land issues than anyone I have encountered. Since he has a very full plate working towards this same goal through different channels, I don't know if he has a lot of time to devote at this venue, but he has been giving me some sage advice:
"Hi Tyler -
Thanks for your email! I'm glad things find you well.
California has had the jump on trail GIS data and other route inventory resources. For example, the California BLM has already plotted designated routes throughout their lands on their GIS system and I am work ing with them to develop an online system for managing and disseminating official route data to the public in GPS format. Since the BLM's map data is all digital now, it no longer makes sense for the BLM to print expensive maps or for the public to collect route data with their own GPS. In fact, the post by "agavelvr" on the forum link you sent me is pretty much what I have started the rolling the ball on.
I would recommend to organizers of any public GPS project to implement sufficient precautions that it's agents drive and GPS only designed open routes. Since most of the Southwest has just undergone formal route designation (both BLM and USFS), route signing on the ground is inaccurate and printed maps are not up to date. As a result, most people do not know which routes are legal to drive, and which are not. This is less of a problem with an individual tooling around and exploring the deep backcountry. However, attempts to amass and publish this route data for use by the general public must be done in a way that ensure that users of this information only travel on designated open routes.
Thousands of miles of roads have been legally closed to motorized vehicles during the past five years but very few of them have been signed on the ground. Even though signs and maps are hopelessly out of date, it is still every individual's responsibility to know where we can and cannot legally drive. In fact, throughout California the new standing rule is "if it is not signed open, then it is closed". Going forward, except in special cases, BLM & USFS need only sign open routes, not the closed ones.
The concept of stringing routes together to create additional expedition style adventure is a fantastic idea. In the California deserts this is tough because of the large number of military bases, wildernesses, and tracks of private property that interrupt most long haul offroad trips. Be aware that there already exists in California a State Motorized Trail System which is promoted and funded by the Off Highway Motor Vehicle Division of California State Parks.
The subject of finding challenging routes is a very real one. In California, you can count the number of triple-diamond trails on your fingers. The last 10 years have seen more vehicles on backcountry roads then ever before. Also during this time, thousands of miles of road and trails have been closed squeezing more and more people on fewer and fewer trails. Combine this with unprecedented amounts of funding for route maintenance, and the result is a network of roads that are by and large in excellent condition. Even the toughest trails are getting more tame as more and more vehicles travel them. Pretty much the only time you can find challenging routes in California any more is following severe weather when even the easiest roads can washout and introduce challenge and adventure. It has been my experience that the longer the route, the better its condition, which makes multi-day expeditions thirsty for challenge."
So, some efforts are underway here already, which made me start to think that a central point through which other groups can pass information to one another might be a good idea. I'm guessing it exsists, but I am unaware of it. Is there a website that acts in this manner? I know deathvalley.com has a lot for CA and the region approach might be the only way to really go. But I can't help but feel the underlying problem is that different 4x4 groups aren't working together well enough to be effective enough.
Does any of that make sense? I'm a little tired.
Tyler Winslow -
"A boy becomes a man through what he creates, not what he destroys"
Current - 2001 Lexus LX470 - can't wait to scratch it!
- bone stock 98 Cherokee.
- Beautifully built 95 FZJ80 - shouldn't have sold it
- 2004 Disco - should have sold it much sooner