To The Editor: Is this weekend’s Best in the Desert race still on?

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From Pete R:

“If the federal government shutdown remains through this weekend, how will it affect the BlueWater Desert Challenge off-road race? I heard they were already making plans to shut it down, which means this huge event may not be happening now?! Please tell us if this is true.”

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Most desert races require permits for usage of federal lands, but the BlueWater Desert Challenge is not one of them, according to Best in the Desert racing association. “Our permits are with the Colorado River Indian Tribes for this race,” said Liz at BITD. Since the race course is on the CRIT reservation, federal lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management are not involved.

However, other Best in the Desert races do run on BLM land, including the racing association’s Parker 250 in January and the Parker 425 in February. BLM, part of the U.S. Department of the Interior, issues usage permits for special events. If the shutdown lasted long enough – which nobody expects and is extremely unlikely – the question of whether the races could go ahead would be more relevant.

According to BLM, “Group authorization for events and activities, including special recreation permits, can continue operations provided they do not need BLM field monitoring, oversight or BLM assistance of any kind, and are not operating in sites that have been closed.”

Best in the Desert races are typically very self-sufficient, although BLM Rangers and other officials may be present for safety. So it seems likely that, even if the BlueWater Desert Challenge were running on federal lands next weekend, it would still be allowed to proceed despite the potential of the shutdown lasting until then. Since this race is on the CRIT reservation, however, off-road racers and fans have no worries. Enjoy the race!

John Wright
Editor

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