Because of its pivotal location, Holtville has been identified by the Imperial County Sheriff’s Office as the best place to store its fleet of off-road vehicles and watercraft.
Sheriff’s Lt. Manuel De Leon, who has had oversight of the fleet for the past 15 years, explained the city has several advantages.
“It’s been going on for a couple years, looking for a new site,” he said. “Something that’s closer to the desert and Glamis Dunes. Holtville is more central.”
Currently, ICSO is parking off-road vehicles and boats at a hangar at the Brawley Airport.
The fleet includes three sand rails, one mini rail, one all-terrain vehicle, 15 trucks, some detailed for off road, and five jet boats.
The fleet is essentially an off-highway patrol that serves the same function as its counterparts on pavement—law enforcement, safety and rescue. For the winter season vehicles are patrolling the desert west to Ocotillo and north to Salton City, while in summer watercraft focuses on the Lower Colorado River basin near Yuma.
“Off-roaders know we’re out there,” said De Leon. “We’re pretty visible. We ride in units marked as off-road vehicles.”
The Off-Highway Vehicle Enforcement Safety team, or OHVEST, has been a sheriff’s unit for about 15 years. It funded by the sheriff’s budget and supplemental grants from the state Off Highway Vehicle Trust Fund under the oversight of the California Department of Parks and Recreation.
It is calculated that moving the off-road fleet to Holtville would reduce wear and save time. It could enhance rapid-response in an emergency.
“Holtville is a better location,” said De Leon. “And our (Brawley Airport) lease expires before the end of the year so it is an opportune time to make a change.”
The Sheriff’s Office had been speaking to Holtville official about using a city facility but City Manager Nick Wells said an agreement was not reached.
The fleet a structure, not just an open space, to protect their equipment, something with the capability of warehousing as well as providing office space for the OHVEST personnel, De Leon explained.