Friday, January 17, 2014

Fee Reductions in So Cal Forest OHV Areas

As some of you know, my last meeting as a member (representing summer motorized) of the California Recreation Resource Advisory Commitee (R-RAC) was held at the San Bernardino National Forest’s main office on January 15 – 16.

The purpose of the public meeting was for the R-RAC to review various proposals from the Angeles National Forest, Cleveland National Forest, Los Padres National Forest, and the San Bernardino National Forest to eliminate many standard amenity recreation fee areas, including OHV areas.  Some of those OHV areas include Ballinger OHV Area, Corral Canyon OHV Area, Rower Flats OHV Area, and Wildomar OHV Area.

Fee Area Reduced to Just the Main Staging Site

In the late 1990s, these 4 southern California Forests, under a fee demo project, created a new concept called the Adventure Pass where the public would be charged a fee if they stopped and used any part of the Forest.   Many stakeholders felt this program was difficult to administer and enforce.

These proposals seek to remove that fee requirement for area use and shrink the fees charged to specific campgrounds, sites, or specially zoned areas.

I believe these plans will help make the fee program on the 4 So Cal Forests more consistent with what other Forests are charging. 

As I look back over the last 5 years of serving on the R-RAC,  I believe the agency is doing a much better job today of communicating with stakeholder groups including local and federally elected officials.  It is that dynamic communication and related oversight that will be important to ensure that fees collected are used for on-the-ground public services that benefit both the user and the resource.

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