Tuesday, February 23, 2021

PSA - Hone Skills/Learn about CA OHV Program - Attend Feb. 26 OHV Commission Meeting

 




CHALLENGE, CHAMPION, HONE SKILLS - ATTEND FEB. 26, 2021 

OHV COMMISSION MEETING

 

For OHVers and others who want to learn more about the CA OHV Program, you may want to attend the virtual meeting of the CA Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Commission on February 26, 2021 at 8:30 a.m.

 

LINK AND SCROLL TO FEB.  26 OHMVR COMMISSION MEETING, AGENDA, AND SIGN UP

https://ohv.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=27160

 

These public hearings are also a great opportunity for OHV club representatives to hone their political skills, enhance their understanding of key issues, meet/see Park leadership, observe actions taken by the OHV commissioners, hear federal land agency reports, budgets, and share their concerns about important recreation challenges – such as Park Transformation/Pathforward 2026, Permitted Events, and Oceano Dunes - during the public comment periods.

 

Members of the public and organizational representatives are encouraged to give testimony during the comment period for each agenda item.   These comments should be related to the specific agenda item.

 

There will also be a general public comment period where attendees are encouraged to offer testimony on subjects not on the agenda.

 

OHV continues to face challenges on many fronts and your participation can make a difference.  However, there are also opportunities that enhance managed OHV recreation.  Get engaged and join with fellow recreation advocates to challenge poor agency decisions and champion good decisions and policy.

                                                                                   # # # 

 

 

Friday, February 19, 2021

NEWS RELEASE - BIDEN ADMINSTRATION RESTARTS BLM RESOURCE ADVISORY COUNCIL MEETINGS

 

NEWS RELEASE

 

Amador at BLM's Cow Mountain OHV Recreation Area
Ukiah Field Office, California



Contact: Don Amador

Phone: 925.783.1834

Email: Damador@quietwarriorracing.com

Date: February 19, 2021

 

BIDEN ADMINSTRATION RESTARTS BLM RESOURCE 

ADVISORY COUNCIL MEETINGS

 

OAKLEY, CA (Feb. 19) –  Quiet Warrior Racing’s, Don Amador, commends the Biden Administration’s  relaunch of BLM Resource Advisory Council  (RAC) meetings in California.  In 2019, Acting Secretary of the Interior, David Bernhardt, appointed Amador to serve on the BLM’s Central California RAC.  The first meeting of the BLM Central California RAC is February 24, 2021 and is administrative only for RAC members.  Regular RAC meetings are open to the public.

 

This particular RAC advises the BLM on public land issues within the boundaries of the Bakersfield, Bishop, Central Coast, Mother Lode and Ukiah field offices, which comprise the Central California District.

BLM RAC Districts in CA

According to the agency website, the BLM maintains 37 chartered advisory committees located in the West. These include 30 statewide and regional Resource Advisory Councils; 5 advisory committees affiliated with specific sites on the BLM’s National Conservation Lands; and two others, including the National Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board and the North Slope Science Initiative Science Technical Advisory Panel.

 

RACs are sounding boards for BLM initiatives, regulatory proposals and policy changes. Each citizen-based council consists of 10 to 15 members from diverse interests in local communities, including ranchers, environmental groups, tribes, state and local government officials, academics, and other public land users.

 

The Department of the Interior (DOI) established the RACs in 1995. RAC members vote on recommendations related to public land management and provide those recommendations to the designated Federal official who serves as liaison to the RAC. The Designated Federal Officer is usually a BLM line manager, such as the state director or district manager.

 

Although RACs are solely advisory in nature, the contributions of RAC members are of great value to the BLM and have aided in the development of balanced decisions that serve the interests of all public land users.

 

Upon the request of the Designated Federal Officer (DFO) the RAC may develop recommendations for BLM with respect to the land use planning, classification, retention, management, and disposal of the public lands within the area for which the advisory council is established and such other matters as may be referred to it by the DFO. 

 

The RAC can also make recommendations on programs and policies to increase outdoor recreation opportunities for all Americans, expand access for hunting and fishing on BLM land in a manner thatrespects the rights and privacy of inholders, and implementation of the agency’s regulatory reform initiatives.

Don Amador, a trail recreation and forest health advocate, states, “It’s great to get to see the Administration restart RAC meetings.  It is an honor to serve on this RAC since most of my recreation and resource management career has been spent on public lands within the RAC boundary.”

 

“Managed OHV recreation in the 21st Century is a sophisticated activity and has many moving parts which include construction of engineered trails, restoration of lands damaged by unauthorized use, law enforcement, maintenance of existing trail networks, protection of cultural resources, planning for new OHV areas, and education/safety programs,” Amador continues. 

 

“OHV is a significant contributor to the economy and an important part of the California state-wide recreation opportunity matrix. OHV recreation is also an important partner when it comes to addressing the growing threat of intense wildfires on both public and private lands.  I look forward to working with other user groups on the RAC in support of access to, and resource management of, lands within the RAC’s project area,” Amador concludes.

 

Don Amador, a former chairman of the California Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Commission,  represents the interests of OHV enthusiasts who enjoy casual use or participate in permitted motorized events.

 

# # #

 

Don is president of Quiet Warrior Racing, a recreation consulting company.  Don also serves as the Government Affairs lead for AMA District 36. He served on the CA Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Commission from 1994-2000. He is president and board member of the Post Wildfire OHV Recovery Alliance, a national non-profit organization, and since 2013 has served as Core-Team Lead for FireScape Mendocino, a forest-health collaborative.  Don is a member of the Governor’s Forest Management Task Force Northern Regional Prioritization Group. He is a 2016 Inductee into the Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame and recipient of the 2018 Friend of the AMA Award.  Don is also a contributor to Dealernews Magazine.

 


Sunday, January 31, 2021

2021 MARKS 50TH ANNIVERSARY OF CA OHV PROGRAM


NON-PROFIT CELEBRATES 50TH ANNIVERSARY OF CA OHV PROGRAM

 

Despite numerous shutdown orders, efforts to champion responsible OHV recreation continued during the COVID crisis of 2020.  Some of those activities by government and non-government OHV stakeholders include carrying legislation in Sacramento, securing cooperative agreements with land agencies, applying for OHV grants, field recon of restoration or trail stewardship projects, hosting or attending endless zoom meetings, educating the public about COVID mitigation prescriptions, getting permitted events authorized by county health officials, planning for volunteer events once COVID restrictions abate, and launching a new non-profit organization to support the 50th Anniversary of the CA OHV Program.


 

As a board member of the California Outdoor Recreation Foundation (CORF), I want to share some of the work that CORF has done over the last 6 months during our weekly board meetings.   Of course there was a lot of paperwork that needed to get filed with state and federal agencies.  Logos, organizational narratives, and website also had to be created. 

 

CORF WEBSITE

https://outdoorrecreationfoundation.org/

 

Our new website has gone live and states that CORF was established to partner with the California Department of Parks and Recreation to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Off Highway Motorized Vehicle Recreation Program. CORF will provide promotional materials for this historic milestone, as well as assist in the planning of OHV Safety Week, a new annual program with a goal of educating thousands of recreation enthusiasts throughout California. 



Despite numerous ongoing challenges that face OHV recreation, I think the CA OHV Program and its supporters have a lot to be proud of.   We have a holistic program that is focused on providing access to sustainable high-quality motorized recreation on public lands in CA.  OHV is also working in a collaborative manner with conservation groups, non-motorized recreation organizations, natural/cultural resource interests, and wildfire practitioners to protect and preserve our recreation opportunities for current and future generations.

 

Be sure and check back into the CORF website for future announcements about upcoming activities and events.  Also, feel free to send in a donation to help support the CORF mission as we celebrate 50 years of OHV recreation in California.

 

DONATE TO CORF

https://outdoorrecreationfoundation.org/index.php/donate

 

 

  

Monday, January 18, 2021

JAN. 28 - TRAVEL MANAGEMENT FOR BERRYESSA-SNOW MOUNTAIN NATIONAL MONUMENT

 

National Monument Sign on West Portion of Stonyford OHV Area
Mendocino National Forest

On March 19, 2016, a stakeholder collaborative gathered at the BLM’s Cowboy Camp to participate in the official dedication ceremony for the Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument.  Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell was joined by Members of Congress, local elected officials, state dignitaries, Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell, BLM National Director Neil Kornze, other FS/BLM officials, and diverse user groups that represented hikers, equestrians, mountain bikers, adventure riders, overlanders, and OHV enthusiasts.

Interior Secretary, Sally Jewell, on OHV Tour of Monument

What made the event unique is that OHV recreation was featured as a key partner in development of the plan to bring additional resources to enhance both conservation efforts and existing/ future non-motorized and motorized recreational opportunities within the Monument boundary.

 

Map of National Monument

LINK TO BERRYESSA SNOW MOUNTAIN NATIONAL MONUMENT

https://www.blm.gov/programs/national-conservation-lands/california/berryessa-snow-mountain-national-monument

 

As an important part of the BLM’s commitment to improve existing and future recreation opportunities, the agency issued a news release on January 15, 2021 that invites the public to the Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument’s BLM Trails and Travel Management Workshop on January 28, from 5:30 to 8:00 p.m. This virtual workshop will provide an overview of the BLM travel management process, which is scheduled to begin later in 2021, and invite participants to provide comment.

 

REGISTER HERE FOR WORKSHOP ON JANUARY 28, 2021 – 5:30 to 8:00 pm

https://www.blm.gov/press-release/blm-hold-berryessa-snow-mountain-national-monument-public-workshop

 

Many of the OHV organizations that worked with conservation groups on development of the national monument understand that federal lands in or adjacent to the national monument are home to a number of destination and dispersed high quality OHV trail recreation opportunities that exist on designated roads, trails, and areas.

Monument Sign at Entrance to Knoxville OHV Area
BLM Ukiah Field Office


However, there are some areas in the Walker Ridge/Indian Valley Reservoir part of the monument that do not have a designated route network.  Your participation in the travel planning process will help identify trails that are important and those that may be causing resource damage or trespass onto private property.

 

If you use or want to use this area for motorized or non-motorized recreation, be sure and sign up to be part of this travel planning effort.  It will also be good practice for other federal planning efforts that are being developed.

 

Monday, January 4, 2021

OPINION - PARK DUNE PLAN KICKS SAND IN FACE OF OHV


 

OPINION

By Don Amador

January 4, 2021

 

PARK DUNE PLAN KICKS SAND IN FACE OF OHV

 

On December 31, 2020, California State Parks (PARKS) released its much anticipated Draft Public Works Plan (PWP) and associated Draft Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for Pismo State Beach and Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area (SVRA).

 

LINK TO DRAFT PWP (comments due March 2, 2021)

https://www.oceanodunespwp.com/en/documents/draft-eir

 

After attending – and speaking at - the December 3, 2020 OHV Commission meeting, many in OHV leadership and other stakeholders had hoped the draft PWP would address our concerns about the planning effort having nothing to do with enhancing OHV recreation but rather was adding momentum to ongoing political efforts that seek to permanently ban OHV recreation at the SVRA.    

 

My comments at the commission meeting also centered on the PWP potentially supplanting the 1982 Coastal Development Permit (CDP) that authorized current levels of OHV activities including beach camping.

 

Unfortunately after doing a speed read of the Executive Summary and the Plan, it appears our comments fell on tone deaf ears based on some of my initial takeaways from the draft Plan.

 

KEY POINTS OF CONCERN IN THE DRAFT PWP

 

Addresses failure in the initial PWP process to include any meaningful benefits to OHV recreation by creating a “future” OHV enhancement concept that might be considered AFTER the Oso Flaco Improvement Non-Motorized Project is completed.

 

RESPONSE: OHV representatives have stated all along the Oso Flaco Improvement Project must include motorized access and camping immediately and not at some uncertain future date.

 

Addresses failure in the initial PWP process to include any meaningful benefits to OHV recreation by stating they might purchase a hazardous waste site - where OHV families can play and camp - from Phillips 66 if the property becomes available for acquisition.

 

RESPONSE:  Placing OHV facilities at hazardous or toxic waste sites is insulting to the OHV community.  It would place an exorbitant cleanup fiscal burden on the OHV program and nobody wants their children to play on an old toxic waste site.  This OHV option also places OHV recreation and camping that much closer to the Mesa residents.

 

Addresses concerns in the initial PWP process about it supplanting the CDP by stating it does not affect or remove State Parks’ vested rights as a State agency that were codified in CDP 4-82-300 relating to park use, or other State laws and codes.

RESPONSE:  Why worry now about grandfathered OHV use in the CDP when the draft PWP proposes to enact their own draconian OHV use and camping bans that are far more restrictive than allowed in the CDP?  Here are those proposed capacity limits.

 

Interim street-legal day-use limit of 1,000 will be implemented and retained until an updated carry capacity study is completed. This limit is a 62% reduction from the current use limits.

 

An interim day-use limit for OHVs of 1,000 will be implemented and retained until an updated carry capacity study is completed. This limit is a 42% reduction from the current use limits.

 

Interim Beach Camping (Oceano Dunes SVRA): 1,000

  

Phase-out OHV/ATV rental concessions as current contracts expire. All existing agreements are set to term out in April 2022 and would not be renewed with the current scope of services. Phasing out of concessions is anticipated to limit the number of inexperienced OHV riders in the riding area, as visitors would have to bring in their own OHVs.

 

RESPONSE:  Tourists from around the world visit Oceano Dunes SVRA to experience riding an OHV at this bucket-list destination.  This feat is usually accomplished by renting an OHV from a concessionaire.  Also, people from all demographics and locations often rent an OHV because they cannot afford to purchase one or they want to try out an OHV to see if they want to take up the sport.  This phase out of rentals would disenfranchise a lot of stakeholders.

 

The draft PWP continues to avoid offering any meaningful enhancements to motorized recreation at the SVRA while trying to console the OHV community with promises of potential “future” opportunities at a hazardous waste site or next to the new non-motorized facilities at Oso Flaco.  

 

Nobody likes getting sand kicked in their face and that includes the OHV community. 

 

 


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.