Thursday, April 20, 2017

Diverse Partners Ensure Success of CA OSV Program

Jackson Meadows Reservoir
Tahoe National Forest

QWR believes that Over Snow Vehicle (OSV) recreation continues to be an important element of winter-based recreational opportunities in the mountains of California.

View from Groomed Trail

That concept was reinforced this week after a tour of the Little Truckee Summit OSV route network and adjacent open area riding opportunities.   Located on the Tahoe National Forest, this area provides a number of looped touring options that offer access to scenic views and some challenging terrain.

Open OSV Riding Area
Tahoe National Forest

OSV-based recreation brings an important economic benefit to many rural areas and supports local dealerships and the jobs they create.   According to the International Snowmobile Manufacturers Association, OSVs contribute $26 billion annually in the United States.   Over 100,000 full time jobs are generated by the snowmobile industry in North America. Those jobs are involved in manufacturing, dealerships and tourism related businesses.

Jackson Meadows Reservoir and Mountains in Background
Tahoe National Forest

According to California State Parks 150th Anniversary outreach, the Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation (OHMVR) Division collaborates with the Forest Service, other state agencies, and local government to facilitate the Winter Recreation Program. The program includes two components: the OSV Program and California SNO-PARKS.

Mountain Looped Trail Opportunity
Tahoe National Forest

The OSV Program supports a system of 34 trailheads and 26 groomed trail systems within 11 national forests. These systems provide more than 1,700 miles of groomed trails for OSVs such as snowmobiles and side-by-side tracked vehicles. In addition, the OSV trails are often used for non-motorized winter activities, such as cross-country skiing and dog sledding.

The OHMVR Division provides funding for all OSV program services, including trail grooming, parking lot plowing, trash removal, restroom facility maintenance, and plowing 97-miles of access roads. Trailhead parking lots tend to fill-up quickly, so visitors should arrive early to secure a parking spot.

Kiosk at Little Truckee Summit
Tahoe National Forest

QWR believes it is important for the OSV community to remain engaged with the Forest Service as the agency continues the Subpart C travel planning process on the  Lassen, Tahoe, Eldorado, Stanislaus, and Plumas National Forests.  There are many important management issues related to the formal designation of roads, trails, and areas for OSV use. 

PCT Crossing at OSV Groomed Trail
  (a Forest Road in the Summer)
Tahoe National Forest

 One of those critical issues is related to the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) which is a non-motorized trail that runs north-south through the western U.S. and along the crest of the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range in California.  It exists primarily on Forest Service lands including the Tahoe National Forest where the PCT crosses the current OSV route network.  QWR believes the agency should ensure that it designates PCT crossings that retain the current form and function of the OSV program. 

QWR also urges OSV recreationists to remain engaged with the California Department of Parks and Recreation staff who are now working on the Transformation process.   There should be additional opportunities for users to voice support for the OSV Program.

QWR commends the many partners that contribute to the OSV Program’s success.  Those stakeholders include; Forest Service recreation and law enforcement staff, OSV touring concessionaires, rural businesses, county sheriffs, local government, OSV clubs/associations, California Highway Patrol, and the California Department of Transportation.


  1. Hi Don:

    Thanks for the OSV Program plug. I miss my involvement in the OSV Program but hope to return to it someday. Little Truckee Summit was my first OSV experience!

  2. I was also a strong supporter of the OSV program when I was on the OHV commission (1994-2000).