Save the California OHV Program has been a high level topic for several months. Competing legislation has been introduced with State Senate and Assembly hearing held and more to come.
SB-249 was introduced. The legislation (as introduced) is very punitive towards OHV recreation and would basically destroy the program.
AB-1077 was introduced. This legislation seeks to renew the program, as is, making no substantial changes to a program that has functioned for more the 40 years. With the periodic re-authorizations required (last one SB-742 in 2007), the program is well managed and always within its budget.
A few of the more egregious points of SB-249 are:
- The defined composition of the commission eliminates a key component that should be represented - local/county government.
- There are numerous inconsistencies with the use of “deputy director” and “director”.
- There is one instance where an action is to be provided direct to Natural Resources Agency vs aggregation through the “chain of command”; i.e., Division to State Parks to Natural Resources Agency.
- There are fundamental changes proposed to the OHMVR (“Green Sticker”) Grants program which would curtail the program until new regulations are created; a 1-2 year elimination of grants to support OHV recreation.
A “collaboration effort” was established involving the author, environmental and OHV interests. This effort has become circular as it is going nowhere and the original punitive legislation is being word smithed with no substantive changes to make it a viable piece of legislation.
It is clear the author and staff have no concept or idea of what they are talking about, let alone scientific data to support this language. According to the proposed legislation, a State SVRA unit would be required to comply with standards currently being used in non-motorized recreation areas known commonly as State Parks.
Next up will be some kind of compliance mandates in USFS and BLM OHV areas, as they must comply with many state standards to obtain grant funding already.
The latest version of proposed legislation (SB-249) is basically the original with a few fluffy words and phrases added. It is not legislation. It is administrative dictates limiting management actions to proven failure actions. A sure prescription for a future lawsuit…
The attached coalition letter of opposition for SB 249 “collaboration” has been sent to the Senate Appropriations Committee and other key individuals.