Wednesday, July 27, 2016

OP ED - OHV Stakeholder Input Informs State Park Transformation Team - Aug. 11 So Cal Meeting in Ontario



OP ED
By Don Amador
Date: July 27, 2016

I want to commend the CA State Parks/Transformation Team about its ongoing effort to solicit input from the OHV community and related-stakeholders.

The announcement today about an August 11, 2016 “Open House” meeting in Ontario, CA, is a good sign that agency leadership is making a genuine attempt to ensure the long-term viability of the CA Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Division (OHMVRD).

I believe those letters you have been sending in and meetings you have been attending have given the Transformation Team some food-for-thought about its initial proposal to move OHMVRD back into the Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR).

I believe the commitment (see link below with FAQs and meeting info) by State Parks that it will continue to separate special funds from other funds utilized by the department is a very positive development in that special funds from OHV would not be intermixed with non-special funds.

LINK TO DPR/TRANSFORMATION TEAM WEBSITE

Based on my 26 years of experience with CA State Parks and the OHV program, I believe that move would devastate OHMVRD’s ability to manage its highly acclaimed system of State Vehicular Recreation Areas (SVRAs).  It would also impact the grant program that supports managed OHV recreation on Forest Service and BLM lands, restoration projects, law enforcement, and safety programs.

It is important to remember that the OHV program has a distinct mission that is often lost in DPR where there has been a corporate or institutional movement to end or severely restrict motorized recreation, MTBs, and horses on DPR lands.  

I want to encourage OHV enthusiasts and partners to continue their efforts to engage with the Transformation Team so as to educate them on the important role that OHMVRD has in providing environmentally-sound OHV recreation on county, state, and federal lands in California.

The OHV community should continue to remind the Transformation Team about the historic deep level of distrust that exists between users and the DPR.  Efforts should be made to restore that trust.  Also, organizational safety mechanisms should be put in place to protect the integrity of OHMVRD.

Users should argue against any changes that might negatively impact SVRA operations or grant funding to federal and county partners.

I don’t believe we are out-of-the-woods yet in regards to protecting the CA OHV program.  Please continue your efforts to make your voice heard as the transformation process continues over the next few months.

You are making a difference!

# # #

Don Amador writes on land-use and recreation issues from his office in Oakley, CA.  Don was Chairman of the CA OHMVR Commission in the 1990s.  He may be reached via email at: damador@cwo.com



Friday, July 8, 2016

Op Ed - EVISCERATION OF THE CA OHV PROGRAM



It appears that hostile political forces in Sacramento are on the verge of functionally eliminating the CA Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Division (OHMVRD) which includes OHV-related grant funding to the Forest Service, BLM, counties, local sheriffs’ departments, non-profit trail and conservation groups, and other partners.

The State Parks Transformation Team is recommending that OHMVRD, which is a separate and highly specialized department, is moved back into the offices of the CA Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR).

In the early 1990s when OHMVRD was located at/in DPR, the OHV program languished in obscurity and irrelevancy while trying to operate under the oppressive bureaucratic thumb of apathetic and/or anti-OHV Resource Agency and DPR leadership.

Even worse, prior to 1982 the entire OHV program was divided up among numerous Parks Department Divisions and had no cohesive element. Employees would work on OHV for a few hours and then move to other unrelated projects. There was no opportunity to develop the expertise and understanding of OHV that has evolved since the legislature saw fit to create a separate Division to oversee the program and an Independent Commission to concentrate on making sure resources are allocated where they are needed to provide a safe and enjoyable OHV experience while protecting California's environment."

It is important to remember that the OHV program has a distinct mission that is often lost in DPR where there has been (and apparently continues today) a corporate or institutional movement to end or severely restrict motorized recreation, MTBs, and horses on DPR lands.   

Based on what I know today, I believe the Transformation Team’s proposal has nothing to do with improving government efficiency.   Rather, it is a crass political maneuver to eviscerate the OHV program and lay the groundwork for permanently sunsetting the program on January 1, 2018.

The good news in the dark aforementioned potential future of OHV is that there are millions of motorized recreationists who can speak up as a strong political force against the Transformation Team’s plan.  

Your loud voice was heard 20 years ago to save the CA OHV program and now government officials in Sacramento need to hear from you once again!

# # #

Don Amador writes on land-use and recreation issues from his office in Oakley, CA.  Don was Chairman of the CA OHMVR Commission in the 1990s.  He may be reached via email at: damador@cwo.com



Monday, December 21, 2015

A Trail Advocate's Prayer


I felt inspired to write this poem after watching a Christmas musical.  Tis the season for hope, thankfulness, and reflection. Trails are indeed part of life’s journey. 


A Trail Advocate’s Prayer

Father, as I head out on the trail today,
Whether it is for work or play,

I ask for your guidance on the course I take,
Let no stone, or root, or furrow cause a mistake.

Your light shines on the obstacles ahead,
The cliffs, the downed trees, all that being said,

The decisions I make, the people I meet,
I lay all those factors humbly at your feet.

At the end of the trail, I hope to rest,
With the knowing, I have done my best.

-- Don Amador

Friday, December 11, 2015

DEFCON ONE CARNEGIE ACTION ALERT - East Bay Riders MUST Send Message to Sen. Glazer and Assemblymember Baker TODAY


This is a VERY important alert for OHVers who live in CA’s  7th Senate District  and 16th Assembly District (East Bay Area).   Based on my past experience, State Senator Steve Glazer and Assemblymember Catharine Baker are getting pounded by the Friends of Tesla to deep-six future OHV use (dirt bike/ATV/SxS/4WD) on the acquisition property as outlined in the Preliminary General Plan and Draft Environmental Impact Report for Carnegie SVRA.  OHV needs to weigh in too!

Riders in the Districts/Towns listed below need to send in a simple message to Senator Glazer and Assemblymember Baker.  That message is:   SUPPORT THE GENERAL PLAN FOR CARNEGIE SVRA.

You can add a sentence or two about how you and your family enjoy Carnegie SVRA and how you are looking forward to using the new property.  However, this is simply a vote counting alert.  We need a large number of constituents from the districts to contact these two legislators.  Please fwd. to your riding networks ASAP. 

State Senator Steve Glazer’s District Map (Antioch to Livermore to Dublin to Moraga, etc.)

Senator Steve Glazer’s Email (you don’t have to select an issue – just click “support” and add the support text for the Carnegie General Plan)

Assemblymember Catharine Baker’s District  -  Alamo, Danville, Dublin, Lafayette, Livermore, Moraga, Orinda, Pleasanton, San Ramon,  Walnut Creek

Assemblymember Catharine Baker’s Email

The finish line is in sight and we can’t let anti-access groups torpedo future OHV use at Carnegie.
Please share with your friends that live in the District.  Thanks for your help!

--- The Recreation HQ


Thursday, December 10, 2015

MUST WATCH OHV TV - Video from Congressional Hearing on Clear Creek - H.R. 1838

Don Amador (L) and Ed Tobin (R) Riding
at Clear Creek before the 2008 Closure

The Recreation HQ has fired up its alert system in regards to yesterday’s House Subcommittee on Federal Lands hearing on two very important OHV-related legislative initiatives.  Those two bills are H.R. 1838, the Clear Creek National Recreation Area and Conservation Act and H.R. 3668, the California Minerals, Off-Road Recreation, and Conservation Act.

For this update, HQ will focus on highlights and key testimony/discussion related to H.R. 1838.  Understanding that folks have limited time, the HQ has noted key times and discussion themes.

This is a must watch video for all of us who have been engaged in efforts to reopen Clear Creek to OHV use.

00 – Chairman Tom McClintock and Ranking Member Debbie Dingall
06:49 – Cong. Sam Farr (history of issue, assumption of risk, OHV commission, economic hit to local business, thanks CA’s odd couple, Tobin, and Ron the Townhall King, etc.
023:50 – Cong.  Sam Farr (wild and scenic rivers)
025:15 – Cong. Sam Farr (assumption of risk, closure is unacceptable)
035:29 – Cong. Jeff Denham (public land should be open for public use, user fees to support mang)
036:21 – Cong. Sam Farr (discusses user fee program to support mang)
037:12 – Cong. Jeff Denham (values local support, etc.)

RECESS

1:25 – Cong.  Tom McClintock (assumption of risk, use of public lands)
1:27 – Kristin Bail/BLM (BLM’s position on the bill and reasons for closure)
1:38 – San Benito County Supervisor, Jerry Muenzer (risk models, economic import, support for bill)
1:43 –  Chairman McClintock (questions Muenzer on closure)
1:44 – Chairman McClintock (questions BLM on closure, hx of serpentine in CA, etc.)
1:48 – Cong. Sam Farr (expresses concerns about BLM’s decision to close and need to find a way to manage the unit for OHV and access)
1:48:46 –Cong. Doug LaMalfa (questions BLM on risk assessment)
1:51 – Cong. Doug LaMalfa (questions Muenzer on EPA and 40 years of no health cases at Clear Creek)
1:53 – Cong. Bruce Westerman (talks about closures being a national issue, need to create access for youth and not create obstacles)
2:04 -  Cong. Tom McClintock (closing remarks about closures being an important issue)


LINK to VIDEO

The HQ wants to thank all those involved in supporting this 8 year effort to reopen Clear Creek to managed OHV recreation.  BIG THANKS for not giving up. 


Thursday, October 8, 2015

OP ED - THE NATIONAL MONUMENT EXPRESS HAS LEFT THE STATION


OP ED
By Don Amador
Date: Oct. 8, 2015
Word Count: 209

*Permission to reprint is hereby granted

THE NATIONAL MONUMENT EXPRESS HAS LEFT THE STATION

Senator Dianne Feinstein’s (D-CA) dueling plans in Southern California to have Congress pass legislation that includes Wilderness designations and statutory protection for 5 OHV areas vs. having the President designate 1 million acres as a National Monument sans the OHV component is a good example of a new land-use paradigm called the National Monument Express.

Having watched the National Monument process in various states over the last few years, it is my observation the environmental movement has created an “either/or” strategy to use the very real threat of a National Monument designation should Congress not act on a proposal.

It appears that in many cases, comprehensive land-use bills that include both Wilderness designations and OHV protections are not moving through Congress.  The reality is that when these collaborative bills get stalled in Congress, the proponents ask the President to designate them as a National Monument. 

Given the historic paradigm where GOP presidents will not rescind prior National Monument designations nor use the Act to designate pro-access National Monuments, the local user groups are left in a very precarious position where they must try and make lemonade out of political lemons.

# # #

Don Amador writes on land-use and environmental policy issues from his office in Oakley, CA.  He is president of Quiet Warrior Racing/Consulting and also works as a contractor to the BlueRibbon Coalition.  He may be reached via email at: damador@cwo.com


Tuesday, June 23, 2015

CARNEGIE SVRA - Post Alameda County BOS Meeting Update - You Get Who You Vote For

Don Getting Ready to Enter the Political Arena

The Recreation HQ wants to thank all of you who sent in letters and/or attended the Alameda County Board of Supervisor’s meeting today in Oakland.

The proceedings today reminded me of an old political adage… “You get what/who you vote for.”   It was clear from the outset that the board had already made up its mind to support the staff letter. 

Dad and Kids Speak in Favor of Carnegie

What was different about today’s board meeting is that both sides of the debate showed up in force.  There was a great turnout by OHV groups and regular folks who spoke in favor of the Carnegie SVRA General Plan.

Dave Pickett, AMA D36, Speaks to Board

Besides the OHV group representatives, there was a family of Carnegie riders that supported the plan.  There were also two female environmental activists who were also dirt bike riders who said they reviewed the plan and felt it was a good general plan.  A rider in his leather jacket made a special trip just to speak in favor of the general plan.

Interested Rider Speaks in Favor of Carnegie General Plan

Both the board and board staff made it perfectly clear to the audience that the state is the lead agency and that all they can do is basically comment on what they feel are the plan’s deficiencies and where it appears to be in conflict with the county’s regulations and open space policy.

Board President, Scott Haggerty, told the audience that he used to ride dirt bikes in the old days and that his current stance on OHV can be a source of trouble during the holiday season when pro-OHVers in the family take him to task on his anti-access political views.

Haggerty also lamented that the former state legislators (Mark DeSaulnier and Joan Buchanan) failed to kill the Carnegie plan when they were in office.  Nice!

AMA's Nick Haris Speaks to the Board 
  
At the end of the day, this is all political.  I don’t think anybody expected the board to burn political capital by voting in favor of the general plan even though it was pointed out to them that the East Bay Regional Park District provides NO OHV recreation.

HQ looks forward to this fall when the Final General Plan (once reviewed by Division) is submitted to the OHV Commission for an up or down vote.  It is that political body that has the statutory authority to decide the fate of the expansion area and the future of OHV at Carnegie.

*Groups at the Meeting: AMA Dist. 36, AMA, BRC, CAL4WD, CORVA, and QWR.