Daniel Patterson & PEER are targeting Little Sahara

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Crowdog
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Daniel Patterson & PEER are targeting Little Sahara

Post by Crowdog »

'Near-riot conditions'
Rowdies grow out of control at Little Sahara, say critics
BLM acknowledges incidents, but says reports of mayhem are blown out of proportion
By Joe Baird
The Salt Lake Tribune
Salt Lake Tribune
Article Last Updated:05/22/2007 08:37:48 AM MDT

Was it just another Easter weekend at the dunes? Or is there a problem at Little Sahara Recreation Area?
An environmental group has charged that the popular gathering spot for off-highway vehicle enthusiasts in Juab County, managed by the Bureau of Land Management, has gotten out of control.
As proof, the Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) cites a federal law enforcement report that described "near riot conditions" on two separate nights over the April 6-8 holiday weekend, plus 37 instances in which medical assistance was rendered and a final tally of 300 incidents that resulted in arrests or citations.
Altogether, an estimated 35,000 people visited Little Sahara over Easter, lured as always, by the wide open and hilly terrain the dunes provide for motorized recreation.
"People need to know what is happening," said Daniel Patterson, PEER's southwest director and a former BLM staffer. "I have to sound a warning about this, because we've seen it in other places, like the Imperial Sand Dunes in California, where things really got out of hand and they had big problems, even murders.
"Utah doesn't want that kind of a situation," said Patterson, an ecologist. "But if BLM doesn't act soon, that's exactly the kind of situation they're going to find themselves in."
BLM and law enforcement officials don't dispute the specifics of the report, which describes two "incidents" during the Easter weekend that each involved up to 1,000 people, took several hours to quell and resulted in the ejection of approximately 200 people from Sand Mountain, Little Sahara's largest single gathering spot, and an area where 24/7 riding is allowed.
"Groups of partyers were blocking an area and forcing women to bare their breasts in order to leave, along with numerous incidents of unwanted fondling of women," said the report, which was obtained by PEER. "When law officers took action, the crowd became unruly, throwing objects at the officers. A Utah [Highway Patrolman] was struck in the head and sustained minor injuries."
Sherry Hirst, manager for the BLM's Fillmore Field Office, acknowledges that those incidents went beyond the usual holiday problems. But she also believes they have been blown out of proportion, noting that the more family-friendly camping areas beyond Sand Mountain were unaffected.
Hirst maintains that overall crowd behavior has actually improved at Little Sahara on the big holiday weekends in recent years, even though the gatherings have grown larger over time. And she cites a larger law enforcement presence as the primary factor.
"When you look at the overall visitation, 35,000 people, the incidents referred to were handled very well and law enforcement kept them under control," said Hirst. "Eight to 10 years ago, it was really difficult, and that's when we began seeking help. Without that support we'd be hurting. We're very fortunate, and I think our visitors recognize that."
The Juab County Sheriff's Office is the lead law enforcement agency at Little Sahara, but on Easter weekend was bolstered by volunteers from other state, county and city police departments, swelling law enforcement ranks to as many as 75 officers, plus medical personnel.
"A lot of effort goes into making Little Sahara a safe and enjoyable place," said Juab County Sheriff Alden Orme. "There are always going to be incidents, and this year was no exception. We had a couple of incidents, and they were serious, but to us they were not out of the ordinary."
Given that, Orme says no major alterations are afoot for the upcoming Memorial Day weekend, which is expected to draw around 20,000 people.
But Patterson insists that BLM will continue to court trouble as long as the agency fails to impose crowd limits at Little Sahara during the biggest weekends.
"They may have handled [the Easter events] well, but this is still very serious. The real question is, why is the agency allowing this kind of behavior to happen in the first place?" he said. "The current situation is not sustainable, and Utahns should be worried about that."
Patterson questions the wisdom of so heavily emphasizing one use - recreation - at Little Sahara, charging that the BLM is ignoring the environmental consequences across the 60,000-acre area in the process.
"The dunes have a unique biodiversity, but the BLM seems determined to provide unlimited off-road use, which displaces all other uses of public land."
jbaird@sltrib.com

crash
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Re: Daniel Patterson & PEER are targeting Little Sahara

Post by crash »

Crowdog wrote: said Daniel Patterson, PEER's southwest director and a former BLM staffer.
He was a former BLM staffer? I didn't know that. Or maybe I had forgotten it.(?) Anyway, he's spewing bull as usual. I just don't understand why these reporting entities give him even the time of day. I guess it's probably because he makes himself out to be SO important and SO qualified when he calls THEM to tell them what to print in THEIR papers.

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Post by L&L Corvairs »

Seems like a decent, balenced article. They let Danny Boy spew his BS and countered with a level, reasoable reply from law enforcement. If anything, seems slightly weighted in our favor.

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Post by crash »

If one can't see that this is a DP barking-dog-attack-on-the-government-agencies article that would never have been printed except for DP sending something over to the publisher, then, once again, that person would be not seeing "the forest for the trees". This is clearly not a nice article about recreation out in the dunes, but an attack on the government agencies and those agencies trying to defend themselves.

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Post by TexasTuna »

where things really got out of hand and they had big problems, even murders
If I remember correctly wasn't it one murder, as in singular??? Not plural!! Even if the article is somewhat balanced, he never is. Using scare tactics as usual.
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Post by Sandcock »

welcome aboard TT :D
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Post by Sandcock »

Daniel Patterson

http://www.rangenet.org/directory/pattersond/

Desert Ecologist

Personal Statement

I am mostly interested in Range issues in AZ, NM, S.CA, S.NV, S.UT. I am also on the board of the Escalante Wilderness Project, Escalante UT which seeks to remove all cattle from the Grand Staircase-Escalante NM and the Escalante River Watershed.


I guess we be sand grazing cattle that needs to be herded off that there grazin sand range :lol:

But, in all seriousness, bad behavior is bad behavior. We should be outraged by the knuclehead's actions and support the LEO's in policing up this trash in all recreational areas. I'd be outraged if one of my daughetrs were caught in a situation like that :evil:
The real egalitarians are not the people who want to redistribute wealth to the poor, but those who want to extend to the poor the ability to create their own wealth, to lift themselves up, instead of trying to tear others down. Earning respect, including self-respect, is better than being a parasite. Thomas Sowell

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