Feds Target Nudity at California Rec Areas
Tension has existed for years between party animals and families with children at popular off-road southern California desert playgrounds.
Now, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management has officially banned nudity in those desert recreations areas under its jurisdiction, the Riverside Press-Enterprise reported.
While public nudity always has been an infraction subject to citations, the bureau's action makes it a federal crime, subject to a possible $1,000 fine and/or a year in jail.
The new prohibition extends the rule to "all developed sites and areas and all ORV open areas" in the agency's Desert District, including Riverside, San Bernardino, Imperial and Los Angeles counties.
The ban covers mobile strip shows, naked motorcycling and women flashing their breasts, all behaviors that have brought complaints from families and others using the public recreation areas, as well as warnings and tickets from law enforcement officers.
Geri George, co-owner of Funco Motor Sports, said she is behind the nudity ban "1000%."
George's company has built and sold dune buggies for 45 years. She has seen her share of inappropriate behavior at off-roading hot spots, she said, at areas including Glamis and the Dumont Dunes north of Baker in San Bernardino County.
The debauchery often starts when young men drink too much and spoil the atmosphere for others, George said.
"Eighty-five percent of the people out there are families with children," she said.
Taming the off-road gathering has been a priority of the BLM and sheriff's officials for more than a decade, officials have said.
One problem area has been Imperial Sand Dunes, popularly known as Glamis, in Imperial County, Calif., authorities said.
In 2001, he BLM prohibited nudity at Glamis, where as many as 190,000 people gather for Thanksgiving weekends. As many as 100 federal rangers and sheriff's deputies have enforced the peace there during holiday weekends, including Thanksgiving and New Year's, BLM officials have said.
Beyond nude antics, the revelry at Glamis has included motorcyclists chasing burning tires down hills after dark, putting explosive aerosol paint cans in campfires, and popping wheelies in pits of burning gasoline, according to videos posted on off-roading websites.
BLM rangers and county sheriff's deputies always have enforced state nudity laws in public places, BLM spokesman Steve Razo said. The new ban adds more teeth to the prohibition, he said.
Nude partying isn't the BLM's only target in cracking down on people using public land.
To try to make people's camping experience less hazardous, the bureau also has banned riding in truck beds or on other parts of motorized vehicles not designed for passengers; use of glass beverage containers; firewood with nails; and metal or wooden stakes. In addition, campers are not allowed to "save" campsites for other people at off-roading areas.