By all accounts it was a perfect day for the grand opening of the new Jawbone Canyon interpretive center this past weekend on April 28th.
Blue skies, warm weather, and a notably light breeze made for refreshingly cool shade and a mild enough day that the tortoises weren’t the only ones who had a spring in their step as the crowd started to gather at about 9 a.m. The sales and interpretive booths were open well in advance of the official opening and Robin Mallow and her employees were a picture of enthusiastic efficiency as they handed out free t-shirts, raffle tickets, and meal vouchers to the pre-registered attendees. Coffee was drank and old friends greeted as attendees, some of whom had attended the first Moose Anderson Day, chatted with fellow OHV enthusiasts and anticipated getting a look at the inside of the new building.
At 10 o’clock sharp key representatives from the Friends of Jawbone, Bureau of Land Management, California State Parks OHV Division, Kern County Board of Supervisors, Ridgecrest City Council, California City City Council, Lancaster City Council, and congress gathered for a photo opportunity before the ribbon was cut. Acting Field Manager of the BLM Ridgecrest Field Office, Michael Reiland, got the honor of wielding the giant golden scissors to cut the ribbon. As the ribbon floated down the crowd walked eagerly into the building, which still smelled of fresh sawn wood and new paint. Once everyone was inside, the local chapter of the Sweet Adelines sang a beautiful rendition of the National Anthem and Jason Patin, a Ridgecrest City Council Member, led the Pledge of Allegiance.
Partnership quickly became a theme of the day as each speaker came to the microphone to present awards or simply offer kudos on the new building. Jim Keeler, OHV Coordinator for BLM, couldn’t help but express his admiration at the relationships that have been formed between BLM and Friends of Jawbone, “Everyone at BLM is so excited about what happens here,” he said, going on to say that, “Jawbone Station is setting the example for what is possible when collaboration is formed and a collective will brought to bear.” Paul Simons of California State Parks OHV said that it was quite a battle to get non-profits OHV funding, but pointed out that this building is an obvious example of why it was worth it. Carrying the point further, Phil Jenkins, Acting Deputy Director of California State Parks, Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Division wanted those in the audience to know that, “Green-sticker fees (the licensing fees for OHV Vehicles) paid for everything you see around you.” Emphasizing that this building is not only for the community, but funded by the community.
Ed Waldheim gave up a stack of plaques in thanks to a number of people, including Don Maben, William Tarvin, Randy Massner, Tracy Bailar, Fred Whitney, Tom May, Randy Banis, Robin Mallow and Myrtle Railey, to name a few. He also called forward Mark ‘Moose’ Anderon’s brother, Eric Anderson, to speak. Eric Anderson thanked all involved for the incredible efforts they have made on behalf of the OHV community and emphasized that, “Moose worked hard to pull OHV Users and the politicians together so that they could find a common ground. He would be incredibly pleased to see the efforts of the Friends of Jawbone and proud to see one of his dreams come true.” He went on to talk about Moose’s vision of having stations, like the one at Jawbone, placed all along OHV routes right to the Pacific Ocean and encouraged all involved to keep up their hard work.
After the speeches it was time for a scrumptious BBQ lunch prepared and served by the Kern County Search and Rescue Desert Team’s excellent cooks and a chance for everyone to mingle and explore the booths. Kids got the chance to attend a Junior Ranger Program, and adults were treated to the take-off and landing of both the Kern County Sheriff and Mercy Air helicopters (thankfully just for fun and not for an emergency!). Adults and Kids alike enjoyed an opportunity to touch the pelts of local animals and ask questions of volunteers from the Desert Discovery Center. After lunch a video presentation about the history of BLM was shown on the new TV in the interpretive center and Randy Banis gave an introduction to the OwlsheadGPS project, a pioneer project spearheaded by Friends of Jawbone aiming to bring official OHV trail information to GPS devices.
Things wound down as Ed Waldheim called the raffle numbers and people jumped forward to claim their prizes from the table. One lucky winner went home with a brand new BBQ. When the last ticket was called it was time to pack-up the displays and bring in the tables as the event came to a close. It was, by any measure, a huge success. Almost 300 people were in attendance and got a chance to see the new building, sales in the gift-shop netted over $1,500 in sales, and the connections that Friends of Jawbone has made with both the community and various government agencies were in evidence everywhere. The event was certainly a fitting wrap-up to all the hard work that has gone into the Jawbone Station expansion. As always thanks go out to the BLM, California State Parks OHV Division, the members of Friends of Jawbone, and the public for your support, donations, and encouragement during the years as we worked toward this goal.
Robin Mallow, Michele Williamson, and Judy Hogg hand out T-shirts.
Back Row (left to right):
Vince Fong, representing Congressman Kevin McCarthy; Zack Scrivner, Supervisor, Kern County 2nd District; Jason Patin, Council Member, Ridgecrest City Council; Ed Fuller, Member, California City Council; Jon McQuiston, Supervisor, Kern County 1st District; Michael Reiland, Acting Field Manager, BLM Ridgecrest Field Office; Rob Perrin, Division of Recreation and Visitor Services BLM, Washington Office; Don Maben, co-founder, Friends of Jawbone; former Supervisor, Kern County 2nd District
Front row (left to right):
Ed Waldheim, President, Friends of Jawbone; Angie Lara, Associate State Director, BLM, California State Office; Chip Holloway, Mayor Pro Tem, Ridgecrest City Council; Martha Iberra, California State Parks, Off-highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Division; Ron Smith, Vice Mayor, Lancaster; Phil Jenkins, Acting Deputy Director, California State Parks, Off-highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Division
Acting Field Manager of the BLM Ridgecrest Field Office, Michael Reiland cuts the ribbon while (from left to right) Jason Patin, Council Member, Ridgecrest City Council; Vince Fong, representing Congressman Kevin McCarthy; Ed Fuller, Member, California City Council; Zack Scrivner, Supervisor, Kern County 2nd District; Ron Smith, Vice Mayor, Lancaster; Angie Lara, Associate State Director, BLM, California State Office; Chip Holloway, Mayor Pro Tem, Ridgecrest City Council; and Jon McQuiston, Supervisor, Kern County 1st District, look on.
The inside of the new Interpretive Center.
Ed Waldheim gives out awards.
Eric Anderson, brother of Moose Anderson, speaks.
Bill Tarvin facilitates the hand-over of the building from FOJ to BLM.
One of the interpretive displays at Moose Anderson Day.
The crowd gathers for a photo-op before the start of the Jr. Ranger Program.
Mudslide the Burro, mascot for the Wild Horse and Burro Project, mugs for the camera.
Kern County Search and Rescue cooks-up some grub.
Eating under the new picnic area.
Angie Lara announces the start of the raffle, which ended the festivities for the day.