Wednesday, March 27, 2013

OHMVRD to Relaunch State Motorized Trail System?

Segment of the 90s-era CA Backcountry Discovery Trail on Six Rivers NF
It is no coincidence the Statewide Motorized Trail System (SMTS) was on the agenda at the recent meeting of the Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Commission in Redding, California.  Commissioners were informed that a multi-year formal statewide state/federal planning effort is needed to codify and implement SMTS.
In 2009, the Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Division published its Strategic Plan.  The document outlined a well-crafted long-term vision for operation of the Division and management of OHV opportunities in California. It also stated (pages 33-34) the Division… "anticipates increased interest in the statewide long distance motorized trail system and a need for places to pursue various types of multi-day sport utility vehicle (SUV) touring opportunities." 
Link to OHMVRD 2009 Strategic Plan
The concept of a formal statewide system of motorized adventure routes was first noted in the California Recreational Trails Act of 1974.  Over the years, subsequent SMTS-related legislation was passed and on-the-ground planning efforts were undertaken by Division staff, federal partners, and other stakeholder groups.
Unfortunately in the late 1990s, work on the partially completed route network was halted when the state was challenged by legal action filed by opponents of the plan.  They stated that a full EIR/EIS must be completed to implement and sign the statewide trail system.
It has been a dream of many OHV enthusiasts to have a formal network of non-paved backcountry routes that connect many of California’s scenic areas.  It is encouraging to note that motorized adventurists may be one step closer to that reality. 
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