HQ is sending out a “broken arrow” alert, which means “all hands on deck” -- our OHV program is under attack. Your help with a letter or by attending the Assembly Budget Committee #3 Hearing today at 9:30 a.m. in Room 437 at the State Capitol is urgently requested.
Thanks to a heads-up by my good friend, Nick Haris (AMA), late yesterday, HQ found out that the Assembly Budget Committee #3 Hearing on Monday February 7 had said they would not look at OHV budget issues until sometime in May. Suddenly on Wednesday, Nick finds out that the committee plans to review OHV budget issues TODAY!
One of the most outrageous proposals by the committee is to consider most if not all of the OHV Trust Fund to be “fungible.” In simple terms… that means that the legislature or bureaucrats can use that money for almost anything they want including non-OHV issues. Yes folks, that means we would not have an OHV program.
Secondly, they want to take $5 million dollars to hire state park rangers to patrol a yet to be determined list of “closed parks” to protect them from an assumption that there will be illegal OHV activity there. If there is trespass, that is a local crime issue that should be handled by the sheriff. If they are going to hire park rangers to patrol closed parks, why not have the park rangers patrol an open park?
I am asking you to FAX or email the Assembly Budget Committee # 3 today by 9:30 am. TODAY. I will be there in person to testify. If you cannot attend, I believe they will be broadcasting it on video feed (check assembly website for link)
Contact info for committee members
OHV First Up on Agenda Today
For reference, I will cut and paste my BRC letter to the committee on the concerns I have. Remember to be respectful when you send in letters. However, passion about your sport is encouraged at the HQ.
ORIG. SENT ON BRC LETTERHEAD
February 10, 2011
The Honorable Richard S. Gordon, Chair
Assembly Budget Committee # 3
P.O. Box 942849
Sacramento, CA 92449
RE: Feb. 10 Hearing - Concerns About Impacts to OHV Program
Dear Chairman Gordon and Committee Members:
As a native of California and a strong supporter of the California Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) Program at State Parks, I write to your committee with strong concerns and objections to a number of proposals that could seriously impact the future and viability of this unique “user-pay/user-benefit” state park program.
I was first alerted to your committee’s actions on February 7 and the proposed actions for today’s hearing by a representative of the American Motorcyclists Association. Due to the late notice of your committee’s proposed action, I apologize in advance for any misinterpretation of the facts and figures and commit to further analysis as well as working with your staff on these issues. Trying to weave through the various public documents with little review time was difficult at best.
Before stating my concerns, I want to thank the subcommittee for its apparent support of several pro-active and important OHV-related proposals in the Governor’s budget that includes storm water compliance, updates to general plans, land surveys/acquisition feasibility studies, $27.1 million dollars for the local assistance program, and the capital outlay budget.
Breech of the Public Trust
BRC urges your committee to reject what we feel is an incorrect informal opinion made by the Legislative Counsel in 2009 that the gasoline tax fees and SVRA entrance fees are fungible which means that up to $75 million dollars of the OHV Trust Funds could be spent by the legislature or state park department for any related or non-related OHV use. As part of the 2007 negotiating team (OHV, environmental, Governor’s Office) for SB 742 the new OHV program, I believe the use of this informal opinion would create a serious breech of the public trust because OHV leadership and state government promised the OHV community that if they would double their vehicle license fees and agree to a substantive environmental restoration program that the OHV Trust Fund would be respected and honored by the legislature. Again, this fungible concept places the entire OHV program in jeopardy and would be in conflict with the legislative intent of SB 742.
Sweeping of the OHV Reserve Fund
Recently, Governor Brown cancelled the proposed sale of 11 state properties and stated that to make up some of the difference his office would sweep special fund reserves. At this point it appears there is $25.6 million dollars in the OHV Reserve Fund. Again, this appears to be a breech of the public trust according to promises made to the OHV community in the process of enacting SB742. BRC believes the sweeping of this fund could also threaten the OHV program’s ability to fulfill its legislative mandate to provide for environmentally responsible OHV recreation in this state.
Appropriating $5 million dollars for “Closed Park” Law Enforcement
BRC believes this action is ill advised and premature. There is no list yet that is available to the public. The 2005 Bureau of State Audits Report on the OHV program found these types of “taking” to not be in compliance the legislative intent of the OHV program. As you know, these funds have been directed by the legislature to be used exclusively to support legal OHV opportunities. BRC believes the “assumption” that OHV crimes will occur in closed state parks is speculative at best. Secondly, if there is OHV trespass it is a local crime issue best handled by the sheriff’s department. It does not make sense to hire state park rangers to patrol a closed park. If you hire park rangers, you should have them patrolling an open park.
Also, there are a number of rural state park units that have or have had legal OHV opportunities such as Tolowa Dunes, Red Rock Canyon, and Anza-Borrego. If those units or similar units are on the closure list, state parks should work with the OHV program or county parks to see if they could operate them and keep the units open for public use. Having a park that is relevant to the local and visiting public could help keep it in business.
BRC urges the committee to slow down and take more time to review the serious implications of our aforementioned concerns on both the short and long term viability of the OHV program in California. Let’s keep our promises that we made to the OHV community in SB 742.
BlueRibbon Coalition, Inc.
555 Honey Lane
Oakley, CA 94561
The BlueRibbon Coalition is a national recreation group that champions responsible recreation, and encourages individual environmental stewardship. With members in all 50 states, BRC is focused on building enthusiast involvement with organizational efforts through membership, outreach, education, and collaboration among recreationists. 1-800-BlueRib - www.sharetrails.org