California OHV Parks Threatened
They’re at it again. Every few years a loose coalition of anti off-road recreation folks, various types of under-informed eco-weenies and wealthy land owners, forms up in attempt to cripple California’s Off Highway Vehicle program. In the past they’ve succeeded at siphoning money from the program, which is derived largely from OHV fees and gasoline taxes, to finance unrelated projects. Here's the scoop...
This time Senate Bill 249 would assemble “a science advisory team to advise and assist the department and the division in meeting the natural and cultural resource conservation purposes of the act, as specified. The bill would also prohibit any expansion of an existing or development of any new, state vehicular recreation area or allocation of grant program funds for new or expanded units of the system until the science advisory team completes its review and submits its recommendations to the department, and the department implements the recommendations.”
And here’s where the money-grab comes in: “Existing law requires any money temporarily transferred from the Off-Highway Vehicle Trust Fund to the General Fund to be reimbursed, without interest, within two fiscal years of the transfer. This bill would delete this provision.”
California’s OHV projects draw no funding from the General Fund or the State Parks and Recreation Fund. So SB-249 would “require these (OHV) fuel taxes to be transferred to the State Parks and Recreation Fund.” The bill would also change the makeup of the nine-member Off Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Commission members. “Under SB-249, tighter adherence to the diverse representation would be required. No more than two Commissioners may serve under the same qualification at the same time.” The qualifications would be:
(1) Off-highway vehicle recreation.
(2) Biological or soil sciences.
(3) The legal and practical aspects of rural landownership and management.
(4) Law enforcement.
(5) Environmental and cultural resource protection.
(6) Non-motorized outdoor recreation.
In other words, only two of the members of the commission would be “ohv friendly.” OHV taxes and fees would be diverted to other purposes, and would not require repayment. Development, improvement and maintenance of current riding sites would be curtailed, and any new OHV parks prohibited.
To express opposition (politely) to SB-249, off-roaders are encouraged to send an email to OHV-rights activist Don Amador (firstname.lastname@example.org) or send a letter to:
Honorable Robert M. Hertzberg, Chair
Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee
California State Capitol, Room 4038
Sacramento, CA 95814