County officials have expressed concern that the county is not receiving money generated by citations issued by the Bureau of Land Management for a dunes visitor’s failure to purchase a fee permit.
In a letter dated Dec. 11 and addressed to BLM El Centro Field Manager Margaret Goodro, the Board of Supervisors stated that the BLM is issuing the non-compliance citations in a manner that directs the money to the federal government rather than the county.
The supervisors also contend that the BLM continues to write violations of state vehicle codes in a way that benefits federal government coffers rather than the county.
As part of a memorandum of understanding the county and the BLM had entered into in 2001, the bureau was given the authority to write such offenses in a way that they would be prosecuted under county ordinances.
The local BLM office disputes the supervisors’ contention and insists the county is getting its entitled share of resultant fines.
“They are incorrect,” Goodro said.
About 80 percent of the citations the BLM issues are for violations of state and county laws and provide a monetary percentage to the county, Goodro said.
Only rangers with the local field office are permitted to write tickets for violations of state and county laws under the conditions of the MOU.
The local BLM office is also requesting the county provide detailed information about the county’s financial contributions to the management of the Imperial dunes. In a letter addressed to Supervisors’ Chairman Michael Kelley and dated Dec. 10, the BLM had requested information regarding the county’s ISDRA-related expenditures.
During fiscal 2010-2011, the BLM issued 7,932 citations corresponding with all BLM land, not just recreation areas, said BLM Ranger Ian Canaan. Of the 1427 off-highway vehicle violations issued, 1,283 resulted in infractions, Canaan said.
Seven hundred of those applied to county laws, while 583 were written under federal jurisdiction, he said. During that time there were 107 DUI violations, of which 63 involved individuals on ATVs, and 44 within vehicles, he said.
During 2011, $49,285 was generated for the county by citations issued for off-highway vehicle violations, said county assistant auditor-controller Kenton Taylor. As of two weeks ago, that figure stood at $36,441.
Fiscal year 2009 the figure was $84,746 and $42,754 in 2010, Taylor said.
The money goes into an off-highway enforcement fund that provides for expenses associated with enforcement of off-highway areas.
Whether BLM or ICSO write a citation for a violation of state law or a county ordinance the entire base fine of the citation goes to the county, said Imperial County Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Steve Gutierrez.
“The law that’s applied is the most applicable, whether it is county ordinance, state or federal law,” Gutierrez said.
Staff Writer, Copy Editor Julio Morales can be reached at 760-337-3415 or at email@example.com
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