Sunday, November 29, 2020

SHAPE THE FUTURE OF OHV IN CA - ATTEND COMMISSION MEETING ON DEC. 3

 



SHAPE YOUR FUTURE - ATTEND OHV COMMISSION MEETING

 

The Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Commission will hold a virtual meeting on Thursday December 3, 2020.  It is important for OHV club leaders, advocates, consultants, volunteers, and other stakeholders who support the CA OHV Program to attend this meeting to voice concerns and/or offer solutions to many of the items on the agenda.  Your input on critical topics such as the Park Transformation process (Path Forward 2026), access to lands at SVRAs that are currently closed to OHV use at Carnegie, Oceano, etc., management of SVRAs including event permitting, Park communications, outreach, collaboration, planning efforts such as the PWP, and other issues will help shape the future of the CA OHV Program.

 

The links below provide information on how to sign up for the meeting and various agenda items.

 

SIGN UP/REGISTER FOR MEETING

 http://ohv.parks.ca.gov/pages/1140/files/01-Notice_OHMVR-Commission-120320.pdf


MEETING AGENDA

http://ohv.parks.ca.gov/pages/1140/files/02-Agenda-OHMVR-Commission-120320.pdf

 

PATH FORWARD 2026 (Transformation Process)

http://ohv.parks.ca.gov/pages/1140/files/07-Staff%20Report-Path%20Forward%20120320.pdf

 

COVID restrictions, wildfires, and political unrest continues to make this a very challenging year for both OHV recreationists and land agency staff that access or manage sustainable OHV recreation on local, state, and federal lands.

 

However difficult things have been, life goes on and so does the need for the public and OHV commission to hold government officials responsible for their actions or inactions.  See just a few of the questions that need answers at this commission meeting.

 

Question 1 - Will there be an update from Parks or the San Luis Obispo County Air Pollution Control District to the August 2020 letter from the OHV Commission about the District forcing the OHV Trust Fund to spend over $16M dollars on dust mitigation measures and removing 48 acres from the riding and camping area at Oceano Dunes SVRA using a process that is out of step with tenets outlined in the May 18, 2018 Stipulated Order of Abatement?

 

LINK TO LETTER FROM OHV COMMISSION TO THE APCD

http://ohv.parks.ca.gov/pages/1140/files/Commission%20Letter%20APCD%20August%206,%202020.pdf

 

Question 2 - Will the PWP be able to show it how it benefits OHV recreation?  So far the PWP has not included plans to address much needed dune access, camping,  and staging for OHVs on the sound end of the project area?

 

Question 3 – Will Parks have a response to the 2019 Petition filed by the Oceano Dunes Access Alliance requesting that it withdraws from the Stipulated Order of Abatement?  So far, there has not even been an acknowledgement by Parks they received that petition?

 

Question 4 – What has Parks and Transformation done to streamline and improve the event permitting process at SVRAs?

 

Question 5 – What is Parks doing to address the SVRA’s need for on-site Park Superintendents to make management decisions in real-time instead of being supervised by off-site Park leaders who may not have the expertise or time to devote to SVRA specific needs since they are now tasked with managing “Districts” which may include 23 park units?

 

Thanks for taking time to review this alert and I hope to see you at the OHV commission meeting on December 3.


Monday, November 23, 2020

CA OHV PROGRAM HEADED FOR ICEBERG

 



OPINION

By Don Amador

November 23, 2020

 

*Permission to share, repost, or reprint is hereby granted

 

CA OHV PROGRAM HEADED FOR ICEBERG

 

There has been a bitter and constant fight to preserve and protect the California OHV Program since its creation in 1971.  For almost 50 years, public and private sector opponents of motorized recreation have used overt and covert means to “redirect” monies from the OHV Trust Fund to support non-motorized units of the State Park System.


In the early 1990s, one of my first battles was to help stop an effort by the California Natural Resources Agency to redirect almost 100% of the monies from the OHV grant program that allocates funds to the Forest Service, BLM, and counties that manage legal OHV recreation on public lands in their jurisdictions.


Another fight that I joined was to stop California State Parks from using OHV Trust Fund monies to purchase private property that provided no benefit to the Program.  Over the last 25 years, OHV organizations have defended the Program against a myriad of similar schemes to eviscerate or defund the Program.


In 2014, California State Parks launched the Park Transformation Process.  At that time, the State Park Director said the California Department of Parks and Recreation was going through a series of initiatives supporting strategic goals, such as improving visitors’ experiences and making the system more relevant to a broader and more diverse population. The effort, dubbed “Transformation”, would alter policies, procedures, guidelines, and organizational structures to support an entrepreneurial, service-oriented, creative and collaborative culture within the Department.


On the surface, Transformation sounded like it might offer some opportunities for highly-skilled OHV specialists and land managers within the Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Division (OHMVRD) to cross-pollinate with their counterparts at non-motorized units.    

State Park Director and CA OHV Commission Listen to Public Input on the Transformation Process  August 11, 2016, Ontario Double Tree Hotel


Unfortunately after reading Transformation documents and attending related public hearings in 2016, it was apparent it could devastate OHMVRD’s ability to manage its highly acclaimed system of State Vehicular Recreation Areas (SVRAs).  And that it might also negatively impact the grant program that supports managed OHV recreation on local, county, and federal lands.


In fact, I echoed those concerns and similar warnings voiced by former OHMVR Commissioner, Ed Waldheim, at the 2016 CA State Parks Joint Commissions meeting about the OHV Program being absorbed into the CA State Park System.  And, reminded the Transformation Team that back in 1982 the OHMVRD and OHMVR Commission were both created to address California State Park’s failure to effectively implement the 1971 bipartisan bill that created the OHV Program.


The hallmark of that 1971 bill was the creation of the OHV Trust Fund to provide an independent, sound, ongoing funding source. OHV gas tax and Green & Red Sticker fees continue to fund the OHV Trust Fund that is now threatened by Transformation.


I believe that active forms of recreation such as OHV and boating are most effectively managed by line-staff at the local level where they have on-the-ground knowledge and meaningful relationships with their customers.  Historically, decisions to administer event permits, designate routes, and manage other park operations have been made by SVRA District Superintendents.  The same on-site decision-making holds true for units managed by county park departments, the Forest Service, and BLM.

 

On page 5 of the 2017 Operational Transition Plan, it states, "District boundaries and grouping of state parks were evaluated as part of this process, and the number of districts will be reduced from 22 to 21. In addition, districts will now be structured to include multiple forms of recreation, including off-highway motor vehicle recreation. As such, state vehicular recreation areas (SVRAs) will be incorporated into districts with different types of park units including state parks, state recreation areas, and others to create equal footing with other state park activities. As described in this Plan, the remapping of district boundaries will create more effective management and unified operation of park districts, which will in turn provide greater services to the public."

 

LINK TO TRANSFORMATION TRANSISTION PLAN

https://www.parks.ca.gov/pages/29225/files/DPR%20Operational%20Transition%20Plan%20October%202017.pdf

 

I believe that statement highlights a strategy on how the independence of the OHMVR Program that made for a successful world-wide recognized program has been reduced to a dependent, fiscally combined neutered transformation where OHV Trust Fund monies can easily be redirected to support non-OHV operations at State Parks. That would be in direct conflict to the 1971 bill that created the program and the 1982 legislation that created the Division and Commission.

 

The Transformation Process has now morphed into Path Forward 2026 and is scheduled for presentation at the upcoming OHV Commission meeting on December 3, 2020. 

 PATH FORWARD 2026

http://www.ohv.parks.ca.gov/pages/1140/files/07-Staff%20Report-Path%20Forward%20120320.pdf

 

AGENDA AND ZOOM CALL IN INFO FOR OHV COMMISSION MEETING ON DECEMBER 3, 2020

http://www.ohv.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=27160

 

Again, it is important to remember the OHMVR Division has a distinct mission that is carried out by a highly-skilled team of OHV-trained trail specialists, environmental scientists, law enforcement personnel, and grant administrators.  

 

Those staff members at Division Headquarters are then led by an on-site management team that consists of an appointed Deputy Director, Division Chief, and Senior Environmental Specialist.  


Since 1982, there has been a direct chain of command/communications between the Division and SVRA District Superintendents that is necessary for the Program to continue delivering sustainable world- class OHV recreation to CA residents and tourists.  Thanks to Transformation that effective chain of command no longer exists because the SVRAs have been moved into mega park districts. 

 

The OHV districts and their District Superintendents had separate but equal management and budgeting powers compared to “regular” state park districts that were essential to the fast-paced recreation needs of the OHV community. That local decision-making power has been diluted by routing many decisions to a mega district with twenty or more park units competing for workload.

 

Based on my current observations of the Division and Program, I fear those concerns expressed in 2016 and at subsequent meetings have been realized as there appears to be a significant turnover of personnel at key leadership positions with no visible signs of urgency by Parks to fill, and/or if filled, the Division Chief position would not be sited at the Division headquarters.  This turmoil is not good for Division employee morale nor does it do anything to address the historically deep level of distrust that exists between the OHV community and State Parks HQ.

 

On April 15, 1912, the Titanic sank after hitting an iceberg while crossing the North Atlantic Ocean on its way from England to New York.  It was considered a state-of-the-art ocean liner and was thought to be unsinkable.   Many think misguided agendas and ill-advised plans were to blame for that disaster.

 

The greater OHV community must stand up to mount a vigorous challenge to ill-advised proposals in the Transformation Process and urge Parks to amend serious flaws in their plan so our Program will not meet a similar fate. 

 

# # #

 

Don Amador has been in the trail advocacy and recreation management profession for 30 years. Don is President of Quiet Warrior Racing/Consulting. Don served as a chairman and member on the California Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Commission from 1994-2000. He has won numerous awards including being a 2016 Inductee into the Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame and the 2018 Friend of the AMA Award. Don currently serves as the government affairs lead for AMA District 36 in Northern California and also serves as the OHV representative on the BLM’s Central California Resource Advisory Committee. 

 

 

 

 





Tuesday, November 10, 2020

TAKE NATIONAL SURVEY TO ENHANCE RECREATION OPPORTUNITIES

 

Take Survey for New Recreation Projects


As a NOHVCC CA State Partner, I want to share a great opportunity for recreation leads to take a survey from OR State University and the Outdoor Recreation Roundtable (ORR) with comments due by November 13, 2020. 

NOHVCC ALERT WITH LINK TO ORR SURVEY

https://www.nohvcc.org/help-nohvccs-partners-identify-lwcf-eligible-ohv-projects/

 By taking this survey, you will help ORR create a list of Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF)-eligible recreation projects for FY22-FY25 from businesses and partners around the country.

This list will complement the recent passage of the Great American Outdoors Act by showcasing the outstanding potential for recreation projects supporting rural development and providing access and equity in diverse communities around the country. Further, this list will be used to inform future priorities for the outdoor recreation economy and to educate Congress and the administration.

As you may know, LWCF monies were recently used to acquire the 1,300 acre Blue Oak Ranch from a willing seller to help provide enhanced camping, staging, and vehicle access to the BLM’s Cow Mountain OHV Recreation Area near Ukiah, CA.

 LINK TO ARTICLE ABOUT THE BLUE OAK RANCH PURCHASE

http://quietwarriorracing.blogspot.com/2020/11/opinion-public-land-paradigm-shift.html

QWR believes the Blue Oak Ranch story is a great example of how the LWCF can be used to help acquire additional high quality recreation opportunities for future generations.

LINK TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE LWCF

https://www.nps.gov/subjects/lwcf/index.htm

Summary of the Great American Outdoors Act below


Public Law No: 116-152 (08/04/2020)

Great American Outdoors Act

This bill establishes the National Parks and Public Land Legacy Restoration Fund to support deferred maintenance projects on federal lands.

For FY2021-FY2025, there shall be deposited into the fund an amount equal to 50% of energy development revenues credited, covered, or deposited as miscellaneous receipts from oil, gas, coal, or alternative or renewable energy development on federal lands and waters. Deposited amounts must not exceed $1.9 billion for any fiscal year.

The fund must be used for priority deferred maintenance projects in specified systems that are administered by

  • the National Park Service,
  • the Forest Service,
  • the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service,
  • the Bureau of Land Management, and
  • the Bureau of Indian Education.

The Government Accountability Office must report on the effect of the fund in reducing the backlog of priority deferred maintenance projects for the specified agencies.

Additionally, the bill makes funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) permanent. The President shall annually report to Congress specified details regarding the allocation of funds to the LWCF. Congress may provide for alternate allocations using specified procedures.


Thanks for taking the survey!

 

 

Thursday, November 5, 2020

OPINION - PUBLIC LAND PARADIGM SHIFT SECURES A NEW OHV AREA

Ranch Owner, Craig Blencowe Gives Presentation
2019 CA OHMVR Commission Tour - BLM Cow Mountain OHV Recreation Area


OPINION

Don Amador

November 5, 2020

  

PUBLIC LAND PARADIGM SHIFT SECURES A NEW OHV AREA

 

As the recreation community anxiously awaits the results of the 2020 Presidential Election, I want to share an article published by the American Motorcyclist Association that gives the backstory on how the BLM was able to acquire a 1,300 acre ranch that will be used to provide enhanced staging, camping, and riding opportunities at the Cow Mountain OHV Recreation Area near Ukiah, California.

 

The article highlights the herculean 15-year collaborative effort by pro-recreation agency leads and private sector advocates at the local, state, and federal levels to purchase a private ranch from a willing seller using monies from the Land and Water Conservation Fund and a grant from the California OHV Program.

 

LINK TO ARTICLE (Permission to share was granted by the AMA)

https://magazine.americanmotorcyclist.com/13110/how-the-cow-mountain-recreation-area-deal-went-down/

 

One additional factor to the success of this project - that was not specifically noted in the article - is the growing partnership between the non-motorized and motorized recreation communities over the last 20 years to find common ground and embrace shared values in support of sustainable trail opportunities on public lands.

 

That paradigm shift in collaboration between diverse interest groups combined with ever growing bipartisan support for sustainable recreation on public lands helps chart a positive future for access to public lands regardless of who is in office.

 

Feel free to post comments on the blog site or send a comment to Don Amador at – damador@quietwarriorracing.com

 

  

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

QWR NEWS RELEASE - NEW ROHVA "SXS" TRAINING SITE to SERVE RED BLUFF/REDDING AREA



NEW ROHVA TRAINING SITE IN NOR CAL



QWR is proud to announce that it has partnered with the Tehama District Fair to offer the Recreational Off-Highway Vehicle Association (ROHVA) ROV Basic DriverCourse (RBDC) at the Tehama County Fairgrounds.  This site is located in Red Bluff, California.

 Many federal/state agencies and cooperators have increased the use of ROVs for recreation/resource management and fire suppression activities.  QWR offers the RBDC course for agency or cooperator staff that need to get certified or recertified before operating a government or corporate SxS/ROV.

 Don Amador, President of Quiet Warrior Racing/Consulting, states, “It is an honor to help train agency and cooperator staff about how to operate their SxS vehicles in a safe and environmentally sound manner.”

 LINK TO ROHVA (Go ahead and take the free online ROHVA E-Course)

http://www.rohva.org/

 

*If you are interested in having Don teach a ROHVA ROV Basic DriverCourse, contact him at: damador@quietwarriorracing.com

 

 


Thursday, October 1, 2020

FS PLAN UPDATE TO E-BIKE DIRECTIVES - Avoid Pitfalls/Find Solutions

Current Status for E-Bikes on FS Lands

*COMMENTS DUE OCTOBER 26, 2020

 

FOREST SERVICE PLANS TO UPDATE E-BIKE DIRECTIVES

Avoid Pitfalls/Find Solutions

 

On September 24, 2020 the Forest Service placed a notice in the Federal Register about their proposal to revise its directives to update and clarify guidance on management of electric bicycle (e-bike) use on National Forest System (NFS) lands.  They are seeking public comments on their proposal with said comments due on October 26, 2020.

 LINK TO FEDERAL REGISTER NOTICE

https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2020/09/24/2020-21128/forest-service-manual-7700-travel-management-chapter-7700-zero-code-chapter-7710-travel-planning

 As the agency states, e-bikes have become increasingly popular nationwide among outdoor recreationists on NFS and other federal lands. E-bikes expand recreational opportunities for many people, particularly the elderly and disabled, enabling them to enjoy the outdoors and associated health benefits. Currently e-bike use is not allowed on NFS roads, on NFS trails, and in areas on NFS lands that are not designated for motor vehicle use. To promote designation of NFS roads, NFS trails, and areas on NFS lands for e-bike use, the proposed revisions include new definitions for an e-bike and a Class 1, Class 2, and Class 3 e-bike, as well as guidance and criteria for designating e-bike use on NFS roads, on NFS trails, and in areas on NFS lands.

E-Bike Use on OHV Trail

With the rapid growth of e-bikes, QWR believes it is important for both the OHV and traditional mountain bike communities to work with e-bike enthusiasts, legislators, land agencies, manufacturers, and other stakeholders to support agency efforts to address the rather confusing array of rules and regulations that may actually be keeping people at home instead of helping them enjoy the great outdoors.

Over the last 4-5 years, QWR has been working, writing, meeting with user groups, and attending recreation conferences to discuss e-bike related management concerns, potential conflicts, and find possible solutions to e-bike land-use issues.

 One of the main concerns QWR has heard from the dirt-bike community is their fear that land agencies will convert some of our highly-valued single-track motorcycle trails to “e-bike only” trails where dirt-bike use would be now prohibited.

 Similarly, I have heard that same fear expressed by some in the MTB community where they are adamantly opposed to the Forest Service or other land agencies reclassifying some of their prized mechanized trails to allow for e-bike use.

 At this point, QWR supports the Forest Service’s proposal to align with DOI's proposed e-bike rules by adopting a standard definition for an e-bike and a three-tiered classification for e-bikes and align with DOI's proposed e-bike rules in requiring site-specific decision-making and environmental analysis at the local level to allow e-bike use.


E-BIKE MANAGEMENT CONCEPTS


AVOID CONVERSION OF MOTORIZED SINGLE-TRACK TRAILS and OTHER OHV ROUTES -Currently, e-bikes are allowed on OHV routes because they are also defined as a motorized vehicle.   Conversion of OHV routes to e-bike only routes – where historic OHV use would be prohibited - has the potential to cause huge conflicts between affected user groups.  

COMPANION ROUTES FOR E-BIKES – On land allocations where motorized and mechanized trail use is authorized, consider looking for new trail opportunities where connector or transport single-track trails could be constructed and designated for both e-bike and MTB use within the management prism of designated motorized roads, trails, and areas.   As appropriate, also consider designating these new single-track trails as multi-use routes that will allow dirt-bike use.   Avoid designating e-bike routes in land classifications where mechanized and motorized use is prohibited such as federal Wilderness areas.

E-BIKE USE ON FOREST ROADS – Authorize e-bike use on Forest roads where motorized use by either street legal or non-street legal motorized vehicles has been authorized.  This is especially important where e-bike riders need connectivity between trail systems.

COLLABORATION – Trail recreation cultures vary greatly throughout the country.  Robust collaboration between diverse user groups and the agency will be important to the planning team.   Planning decisions should be site-specific and based on input gleaned from the collaborative process.


USER FEES – The agency should use existing fee authority or, if needed, create a new fee structure and vehicle decal for e-bikes so they can contribute to trail-related construction, maintenance, restoration, law enforcement, and safety/education programs.

 

QWR believes that e-bikes are here to stay and have become an important transportation and/or recreation vehicle for many who want to get out and enjoy the great outdoors.

 

QWR continues to support agency efforts to update their land use or travel plans to create opportunities for this new and evolving recreation activity.

 

Feel free to post a comment on this important topic.

 

# # #

 

 

 

 


 

Monday, September 28, 2020

FIGHT AHEAD - Newsom EO Vehicle Ban is Counterproductive

Long Distance Remote Backcountry Exploration at Risk from EO

OPINION

By Don Amador

September 28, 2020

 

FIGHT AHEAD -  NEWSOM ORDER BANNING GAS POWERED VEHICLES IS COUNTERPRODUCTIVE

 Fighting for our rights is nothing new for many of us that work in the field of recreation advocacy and/or resource management.  Over the last 7 months, we have experienced a plethora of executive orders issued by local and state government officials in response to both the COVID and wildfire crisis. Some of these emergency directives have made sense to either streamline the regulatory process to expedite fuel reduction projects, meet critical electrical power demand, or protect public safety.


Electric OHV Trail Sign

 Unfortunately, it appears that some of these executive order-prohibitions have infringed on our Constitutional rights of freedom of assembly or freedom of speech.   And, have created a culture of management by executive orders often with little or no debate in the public arena.

 By now, many of you have expressed legitimate concerns about the recent climate crisis inspired Executive Order (EO) issued by California Governor Gavin Newsom that proposes to ban the sale and use of gasoline-powered OHVs and passenger cars/trucks. The main tenets of that EO are listed below:

 1 - It shall be a goal of the State that 100 percent of in-state sales of new passenger cars and trucks will be zero-emission by 2035. It shall be a further goal of the State that 100 percent of medium- and heavy-duty vehicles in the State be zero-emission by 2045 for all operations where feasible and by 2035 for drayage trucks. It shall be further a goal of the State to transition to 100 percent zero-emission off-road vehicles and equipment by 2035 where feasible.

 2 -  The State Air Resources Board, to the extent consistent with State and federal law, shall develop and propose:

 a) Passenger vehicle and truck regulations requiring increasing volumes of new zero-emission vehicles sold in the State towards the target of 100 percent of in-state sales by 2035.

 b) Medium- and heavy-duty vehicle regulations requiring increasing volumes of new zero-emission trucks and buses sold and operated in the State towards the target of 100 percent of the fleet transitioning to zero-emission vehicles by 2045 everywhere feasible and for all drayage trucks to be zero emission by 2035.

 c) Strategies, in coordination with other State agencies, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and local air districts, to achieve 100 percent zero-emission from off-road vehicles and equipment operations in the State by 2035. In implementing this Paragraph, the State Air Resources Board shall act consistently with technological feasibility and cost-effectiveness.

 However well-intentioned this EO is – I believe it ignores, disrespects, and damages the ongoing and robust collaborative process that has been occurring between diverse interest groups from motorized/non-motorized recreation, land agencies, industry, business, and other stakeholders to address and solve many of our public land management and resource issues.

Don on e-MTB on OHV Trail

The shift to electric passenger cars and OHVs is already taking place.  Many state parks and other land management agencies have added electric vehicles to their fleet in appropriate areas.  OHV manufacturers are making electric dirt-bikes, mountain bikes, youth OHVs, SxSs, and dual-sport motorcycles and a growing number of customers are buying them.

 Forest health collaboratives and their members are working to address fuel loading on our forest and grasslands.   Often these projects are funded by the state Climate Change Investment grant program.  Good things are happening!

 Executive Orders have a role to address an immediate and specific emergency when there is not enough time to address said issue through the legislative process.  

 It’s my concern that a significant number of users and other constituents who vehemently oppose this EO will now be forced to abandon the aforementioned collaborative efforts to band together to fight a plan that is an affront our culture and highly treasured way of life.

 LINK TO NEWSOM EO

https://www.gov.ca.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/9.23.20-EO-N-79-20-text.pdf

 LINK TO WHAT CARB CONSIDERS OFF-ROAD VEHICLES

https://ww3.arb.ca.gov/msprog/offroad/offroad.htm

# # #

Don Amador has been in the trail advocacy and recreation management profession for almost 30 years. Don is President of Quiet Warrior Racing, a recreation consulting company. Don is President/CEO of the Post Wildfire OHV Recovery Alliance, a non-profit post fire recovery organization. Don is Core-Team Lead for FireScape Mendocino, a forest health collaborative. Don served on the California Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Commission from 1994-2000. He has won numerous awards including being a 2016 Inductee into the Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame and the 2018 Friend of the AMA Award. Don currently serves as the government affairs lead for AMA District 36 in Northern California and also serves as the OHV representative on the BLM’s Central California Resource Advisory Committee.  Don is a contributor to Dealernews Magazine.  Don may be reached via email at: damador@quietwarriorracing.com