Tuesday, February 25, 2020

OP ED - State of the CA OHV Program

By Don Amador
Feb. 25, 2020

 State of CA OHV Program

Like many of you, I have had more than a full plate over the last couple of months but am now back more fully in the OHV saddle.  With the upcoming OHV commission meeting slated for Thursday, February 27, I wanted to share my view on the current state of affairs at the CA OHV Program.

The following comments are hard for me to pen and share because of my long history with the Program and my deep appreciation for the OHV staff that I work with and for the many partners it has in various local and federal jurisdictions.

For reasons I don’t fully understand the Program has entered into a “Dark Ages” status where substantive communications with Park/Division leadership are almost non-existent.   Transformation has largely obliterated the hands-on SVRA superintendent role where management is meaningfully engaged with unit staff and partners in operation of the SVRA.

Probable loss of the opportunity to purchase the 1,300 Blue Oak Ranch, because approved grant monies to help with the purchase of the property -  that would act as a high quality staging/camping area for the BLM’s South Cow Mountain OHV area - are now lost in a bureaucratic black hole in Sacramento. 

While there remains the responsibility of grant applicants to be accountable for grant funded projects, there are a growing number of past and potential future grant applicants (including government agencies) that have told me the massive increase in grant reporting requirements goes far beyond other grant reporting requirements including those who get non-OHV grants from other state agencies.

The Oceano Dunes SVRA PWP - absent any meaningful projects that would benefit OHV recreation – is simply adding momentum to ongoing political efforts that seek to permanently ban OHV recreation at the SVRA while at the same time supporting the continued gross misuse of dedicated OHV funds to manage and support non-motorized recreation at the SVRA and other Park units.

It is my hope the Thursday OHV Commission meeting will provide an opportunity for Parks leadership, Division staff, and stakeholders to reconnect, find solutions, and chart a positive course for our OHV Program.

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Tuesday, February 4, 2020

OHV Trails Reopened Due to Post Ranch Fire Recovery Collaboration

Grindstone OHV Program Manager, Sarah Ridenour-Chamberlin (L), Reviews
 Reconstructed Sediment Catch Basin with Grindstone District Ranger, Christine Hill (R) 

According to a February 3, 2020 News Release from the Mendocino National Forest, the Forest Supervisor, Ann Carlson, reopened more trails and campgrounds that were impacted by the 2018 Ranch Fire.


WILLOWS, Calif., Feb. 3, 2020 — Forest Supervisor Ann Carlson has issued Forest Order No. 08-20-02 for the Ranch Fire area which opens more trails and campgrounds and continues the temporary closure of selected trails and campgrounds until more fire hazards can be removed. The new closure is effective from January 29, 2020 until December 31, 2020.

Most of the road system and trails in the Ranch Fire area have been evaluated and hazards have been removed. Forest Order No. 08-20-02 opens the majority of OHV trails on the Grindstone Ranger District as well as Pine Mountain Lookout and Bear Creek campground on the Upper Lake Ranger District. However, numerous hazards still exist within the general forest, along many roads and trails and in campgrounds.

Supervisor Carlson says, “Due to the hard work of Forest Service employees and volunteers there are now many fire impacted areas that are safe for the public to enjoy and I feel it is important to reopen access to public lands where we can. We are continuing to remove hazards such as dead standing trees, exposed rebar in trail treads, and stump holes on trails in order to reopen the remaining trails and campgrounds.”

“Although the end date for Order 08-20-02 is December 31, 2020, we are working hard to reasonably reduce risks to the public and reopen areas as soon as possible,” Carlson adds. Forest Order 08-20-02, including the order, map and list of closed trails and facilities is posted on the forest website: https://tinyurl.com/urx4jwu

QWR believes the Forest Supervisor correctly identifies the collaboration between agency staff and volunteers from non-profits, clubs, and the community to clear trails, remove hazards, and repair campgrounds as an important factor in reopening OHV opportunities on the Forest.

Watch for Trail Hazards and Respect Trail Closures

QWR urges trail riders to get out and enjoy the reopened trails but also respect the closure order and stay off of routes that remain closed.  Your cooperation will help support the Forest’s ongoing post fire recovery efforts so that additional routes – that are used for both casual riding and permitted events -will continue to be reopened sooner vs. later.