Tuesday, August 4, 2009

New GAO OHV Report - Biased and Flawed

Some of you may be aware of a newly released “OHV Study” by the Government Accountability Office. When the GAO first came up with the initial concept of this survey, the BRC and several other OHV groups were asked to review the survey questions and give input. On behalf of the BRC, The General had given his input to BRC leadership regarding the proposed questions/survey.

BRC News Release on GAO Report – (GAO report is linked in the news release)





Feb 2009 OHV Group Letter to GAO About Design Flaws


It was his impression that the new survey was filled with double-negative (i.e. have you stopped beating your wife type questions?) questions. This design flaw was pointed out to the GAO, but they refused to change the survey design.

Hence, we end up with yet another “OHV Report/Survey” that is strangely similar to previous Forest Service reports issues in 1985 and 1996. Rather then focus on the need for positive and pro-active management prescriptions or philosophies and cite those units with said tenets, the survey casts a wide net of double-negatives that ultimately results in the GAO making the same tired observations that land management agencies often have no time, no money, and no staff (and no desire in many cases) to manage OHV recreation.

The GAO report is government at its worse. The report is uninspiring and appears to leave the reader with the impression that if OHV recreation is to be sustainable and successful that programs must have good planning, deal with conflict resolution, and have adequate law enforcement. Sure those are key tenets to a successful program, but the report fails to capture the main ingredient to a quality OHV program – people that care.

It has been my observation over the last 20 years of recreation advocacy that if a unit has an agency OHV champion such as a recreation officer, district ranger, forest supervisor, OHV program manager, or area manager… that unit will have a good OHV program.

However, if the unit does not have an agency OHV champion… no amount of law enforcement, public meetings, or planning will substitute for that person’s commitment to have a good OHV program that both protects resources and provides a quality recreation experience.

Thanks to the managers who care. I salute you!

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