Las Vegas Sun

November 23, 2017

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Designed to keep pests out, Yermo station to be replaced

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Mick Akers

The Yermo Border Protection Station is scheduled to be replaced in the next 18-24 months by a new facility 90 miles to the east of the current location.

The cause of many motorists’ ire on their way from Las Vegas to Southern California on Interstate 15 is set to be replaced within two years.

The Yermo Border Protection Station, located about 130 miles south of Las Vegas, requires drivers to slow down and sometimes come to a stop. Often no inspector is present. When one is present, drivers are frequently waived through without question. The purpose is to keep invasive species that can be found in produce or attached to watercraft out of California.

“A new modernized facility, will be constructed approximately 90 miles to the east of the current location,” said Josh Eddy, California Department of Food and Agriculture spokesman

Groundbreaking for the $47.4 million facility, seven miles south of the Nevada state line on Interstate 15 between Yates Well Road and Nipton Road, is scheduled for September. The Mountain Pass facility will be part of a Joint Point of Entry (JPOE) with the California Highway Patrol facility.

Although the new facility has been delayed multiple times, there is nothing to suggest another delay will occur, Eddy said.

The Yermo facility is among 16 California Border Protection Stations that the California Department of Food and Agriculture operates to protect the state’s $47 billion agriculture industry. It will stay in operation until the new facility opens.

California officials say the inspections work. For every dollar spent on pest prevention, according to a state of California website, $14 are saved in later control costs and economic losses.

There are 27 employees designated to the Yermo station, with as few as three staffers and as many as eight staffers being on duty at one time. That level of staffing suggests why many vehicles are waived through the station.

The vehicles that do get inspected are chosen by pest risk, with commercial trucks, RVs, self-movers, watercrafts and vehicles with livestock atop the prioritized risk list.

Passenger vehicles, especially those with California or neighboring states’ vehicle license plates, are considered lower risk. They are given a preliminary inspection, usually consisting of questioning the driver if they have any out-of-state produce. If traffic is heavy, further inspection of passenger vehicles is unlikely.

The current facility was not created to handle the current volume of traffic.. Built in 1963, the Yermo station was designed to handle 1 million vehicles annually.

During fiscal year 2016-17, the Yermo facility processed about 8.8 million vehicles.

Of those 8.8 million vehicles, employees at the Yermo station rejected 882 lots or shipments of material that did not meet entry requirements, according to Eddy.

“The rejection of these lots/shipments resulted in 235 Pest and Damage Reports (PDR) being generated by station personnel; 74 of these PDRs were determined to be actionable pests,” Eddy said. “Included in the pest finds at Yermo were the Red Imported Fire Ant, Gypsy Moth, Fruit Fly species, Zebra and Quagga Mussels, among others.”

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