Friday, May 29, 2009

California Budget Cuts - A Train Wreck in the Making

According to breaking news articles that are hitting the wire, Governor Schwarzenegger is planning to close over 200 state parks and cut 2,000 park-related jobs as a result of the current budget fiasco.

As a native Californian, The General is asking the law-makers in Sacramento,”What have you done to my state?” In my opinion, this train wreck has been coming for a number of years. I believe this “worst case scenario” as described by State Park’s spokesman, Roy Stearns, in an AP article, is a result of gluttonous spending, zealous taxation, gleeful over-regulation, and enactment of politically-motivated wacky environmental proposals by wrong minded law-makers in Sacramento -- a clear example of politicians serving themselves instead of the people.

AP Article – Statement by Roy Stearns

It’s no wonder that many of my friends have left California for greener pastures (e.g. states with lower or no taxes, less regulations, and more freedom). If politicians don’t “get it” soon… that number of tax payers leaving the state is only going to grow as they “get the heck out of Dodge.”

Time will tell just what sort of impact the state park budget cuts will have on the OHV program. In theory, the OHV program is user-pay/user-benefit and is “protected” as a Trust Fund, but in this day and age… that may not mean much… we will see.

As the sun shines down on California today, the golden glow it used to cast upon our beautiful state has been replaced with a dark shadow that is ugly.

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Friday, May 22, 2009

Memorial Day Weekend Tribute

On this special weekend, I want to express my gratitude to our fallen heroes who fought for our freedom. It is a precious gift that we must treasure, respect, defend, and pass on to future generations.
(Photo at right is Don Amador at 60th Anniversary of D-Day Wreath above Omaha Beach)

In 2004, my wife planned a surprise trip for my 50th birthday. She and my oldest son, Jonathan, took me to the 60th Anniversary of D-Day in Normandy, France. As the son of a WW2 veteran (Patton’s 3rd Army), I have a deep respect for those who serve and for those who had made the ultimate sacrifice.

I will someday write more about that 2 bus tour that retraced the steps of Allied Forces from the beaches of Normandy up through Bastone. But for today, I will simply say that visiting the grave sites of those soldiers killed in the landing at Normandy was a life changing experience for me. It deepened my respect for those who have served and sacrificed in all wars and that I should live my life to honor those deeds.

I must share one particularly moving story that was told me by a veteran of the 82nd Airborne who landed on D-Day. I saw this man sitting under a tree with two women that looked like his daughters. When I walked up to him and asked him if he could tell me his story… he said, “After I parachuted in, I was by myself armed with a Thompson and as I walked around a corner in a small town I came face to face with about 8-12 Germans. After lifting up the barrel of my Thompson and pulling the trigger… the next thing I remember was that I woke up some time later and they were all dead and I was alive.”

Strange thing was that his daughters were standing some distance off from us talking with my wife, but they overheard his story and told my wife that he had never told that recount to them. The challenge for me is to honor that sacrifice by the way I live. I fear that often I fail to meet that goal. However, we all should continue to try.

Again, my deepest appreciation to those who made the ultimate sacrifice and to the families left behind. My appreciation also goes out to those who have served and continue to serve. God Bless.

I wanted to share a couple of songs with you on this Memorial Day Weekend.


Spiritual “You are Not Forgotten” - this song is a tribute to our troops


Rock “If I Die Tomorrow” - this song is a tribute to troops


Thursday, May 21, 2009

Travel Management - Good Idea or Big Mistake?

At the recent CA State Parks OHV Commission meeting in San Jose, Commission Chairman Gary Willard asked the Forest Service representative for an accounting of the more than 12 million dollars of “OHV Green Sticker” grant funds that were spent on the CA OHV route inventory and designation process (RID) circa 2002-2007.

With more CA National Forests coming out with their DEIS’ – that are proposing to close a significant amount of historic OHV routes - there is a growing number of users asking if the CA RID process and its off-spring the National Travel Management Rule (TMR) have been “worth it” or if we are witness to a colossal mistake.

In CA, the 12 million dollars for RID essentially dried up grant funding for trail maintenance on most Forests for almost 6 years. Many users, including yours truly, were convinced that RID was simply an elaborate scheme by the anti-access majority on the OHV commission to enact the closure agenda of the extreme preservationist movement. Remember, it was just that sort of agenda-driven decision-making by the OHV commission that resulted in the new CA OHV program in SB742. Also, a number of FS staffers privately told me that those who supported the now infamous CA RID process would rue the day the MOI was signed and a “forced RID/TMR” process was imposed not only on the users, but on understaffed Forests and Ranger Districts.

For copy of MOI between State Parks, OHV Commission, and FS go to:

BRC has always supported the concept of designating “roads, trails, and areas” as outlined in the Nixon/Carter Executive Orders. And I, as BRC’s Western Representative, was a strong supporter of the vetted 2005 version of TMR. However, BRC believed that those planning efforts should be based on, and adapted to, actual on-the-ground needs. For example, the Los Padres NF near LA did an early version of TMR in the mid 1980s because they had a lot of use. On the other extreme, the Modoc NF is a very rural Forest in NE CA -with low visitation numbers- may never need to do TMR.

In the lead up to the signing of the MOI in 2003, BRC opposed the creation of the CA MOI because it was not vetted in the public arena. There was no rule-making process that would have ferreted out its now-glaring flaws. BRC also opposed the MOI because it would divert almost all funds from trail maintenance projects for a number of years.

At the end of the day, the question must be asked about the CA RID and the National TMR. Was it a gigantic waste of 12 million dollars of CA Green Sticker Funds for RID and 100s of millions of dollars for TMR? Did RID/TMR really improve the management of OHV recreation at destination OHV areas or in Forests that already had a strong commitment to managing OHV recreation? Was forcing TMR on Forests that had other priorities (such as water sports, timber, etc.) a good administrative decision? Did post 2005 mutations of TMR turn out to be simply a closure tool invented by anti-access groups and embraced by some –but not all – Forests?

Those are all good questions that deserve an answer. A post TMR analysis will be important to answer the question… “Was RID/TMR a good idea or a colossal mistake?”

Monday, May 18, 2009

FMF/BRC Sound Team at 2009 SheetIron DS Ride

Well troops, it looks like the 2009 SheetIron 300 Dual Sport Ride was another big hit with riders. This is the 7th year that the FMF/BRC Sound Testing Program for OHVs provided the tech inspection for the event. Just like last year, the Oakland Motorcycle Club’s SheetIron Dual Sport Ride with its 500 riders was a sold out event.

The General was there at the lead sound technician for the FMF/BRC Sound Testing Program for OHVs and had a lot of great help from members of the Oakland Motorcycle Club’s membership… some of which have gone through the official sound testing program and are certified testers as well.

What is most rewarding for The General is seeing the effectiveness of program’s effort regarding promotion of the “3 Es” – Education, Engineering, and Enforcement. No longer is the camp awakened at the crack of dawn by bikes rapping up at 104 dBA or louder. Rather, the campground is almost strangely quiet as properly silenced mufflers have largely replaced the non-sound compliant exhaust systems of the past.

The few bikes that were still too loud were mostly the disk-type mufflers that were running too many disks. The good news is that when the numbers of disks are reduced to about 3-6… those bikes make the 96dBA limit. The bad news is that a stock exhaust system would actually flow better. Several riders wished they had saved those stock exhausts. Some said they were heading to the bike shop for a new aftermarket muffler.

Is riding sound complaint bikes the only answer in the land-use equation? The simple answer is no. However, it is one of those important land-use foundation blocks upon which sustainable OHV recreation is based.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Time To Revive Pombo Wilderness Doctrine?

Is Big Gulp Wilderness back? As the House Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands gets ready to hear testimony on the Northern Rockies Ecosystem Protection Act (H.R. 980), I am reminded of the work that BRC and partners did on the CA Boxer/Thompson Wilderness Bill (H.R. 233) regarding the inclusion of strong protection language in the legislation that guaranteed continued motorized use on basically all OHV routes that were legally opened at the time. Also, historic commercial surf fishing rights were restored in that bill as well – a boost to the local economy for sure.

I must give credit to pro-access leaders who adhered to the “local decision-making” tenets of the Pombo Wilderness Doctrine.

I know Congressman Pombo was the enviro’s favorite whipping boy, but just because he was a target of the environmental lobby does not mean that his common sense Wilderness
criteria should be ignored or rejected by pro-access legislators of either political party.

Those tenets that I feel should be part of any modern Wilderness proposal are: WSA review and release, Risk Assessment, Community Involvement, Property Protections, General Considerations, and coordination with Forest Planning efforts.

See a Copy of the Pombo Wilderness Doctrine Below:

The General believes that Big Gulp Wilderness proposals such as H.R. 980 do a great disservice to smaller and more inclusive Wilderness bills – such as HR 233 - that are thoughtfully developed over time with input from local governments, off-roaders, and other stakeholders.

The General says it is time send “Crazy Uncle” Wilderness Bills such as H.R. 980 back to the legislative basement where they belong before any more people are put out of business.
PS - Feel free to share the Pombo policy with your pro-access elected officials to see if they would support those tenets in current and future Wilderness bills.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

"Join A Club" Video From The General - Jimmy Lewis Weighs in Too

This video message below from The General is not geared to those of you who are already members of BRC or some other land use organization. It is geared to the 98 percent of the approx. 43 million off-roaders in this country who are not members of ANY organization or club.


YouTube Video "Join A Club" Video from Don Amador

Dirt Rider Mag's, Jimmy Lewis, also has been banging the drums for a number of years regarding getting off-roaders to wake-up out of their dream-like state and get involved by joining a club --- see his post at:

I believe now more than ever that the future of our sport depends on getting the non-involved off-roader engaged in the battle.

Who are those non-involved riders? They are folks who think that “somebody else” will fight (and pay for) their battles for them or worse yet… they are the clueless riders who think that land-closures “won’t affect them.”

KTM and FMF have stepped up to the plate to help push up those membership numbers by declaring May as Protect Your Right To Ride Month. Also, BRC has a free 3 month trial membership promo going on right now.


KTM/FMF's May is Protect Your Right to Ride Month



BRC's 3 Month Free Ride Membership


It is my hope that the non-involved riders will wake-up and smell the campfire coffee. Who knows… the trail they save might just be the one they ride on.