Thursday, May 31, 2012

Dark Days Ahead for CA OHV Program

"Hell's a Coming..."

The Recreation HQ is not happy about what happened today at the Assembly Budget Committee hearing.  By now, many of you already know that Assemblyman Jared Huffman (D-Petaluma) championed the agenda of the far left environmental movement to defund the OHV grants program to the FS, BLM, and county/city parks so they won’t have the money to maintain trails and facilities.   After which they will complain about the lack of funding to maintain trails and then sue the agencies to force them to close the trails.
BRC News Release on Hearing Today
SacBee Article from last year that describes the green closure plan
Video of Hearing (BRC/my comments start about 44.31, other OHV reps follow)
This is actually one of my darkest days in land-use advocacy in the last 22 years.  It appears the anti-OHV groups have a choke-hold on an all too willing legislature.  It also appears the city/urban legislators have declared POLITICAL AND ECONOMIC WAR on rural parts of the state.
Shame on the Parks Foundation for their part in this scheme.
Just where this ends, I don’t know.  Be assured that the fight is not over, but we are at the bottom of one of the longest political hillclimbs I have ever faced.  Stay tuned for further alerts and action items as this plan moves into conference.
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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

HQ ACTION ALERT - Stop the Raid on the OHV Grants Program

*BRC Action Alert (send letters/emails/calls today)
Having just come back from meetings in Arizona (a state with a balanced budget and a lot of riding opportunities), I can’t tell you how angry I am about this ongoing effort by the legislature (with support from some green NGOs) to eviscerate the OHV Grants Program.
If you haven't already made your calls to stop the almost annual attempt to rob California's OHV fund, maybe this article from Townhall Mag will motivate you.  
Townhall reports on an Associated Press investigation of the $15 million collected from the "California Memorial Scholarship Program," advertised by the California Department of Motor Vehicles as helping the children of Sept. 11 victims.  AP found only a small fraction of the money went to scholarships. While 40 percent has funded anti-terror training programs, $3 million was raided by Gov. Jerry Brown and his predecessor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, to plug the state's budget deficit.

 See: AP Exclusive: Calif. 9/11 fund raided for deficits
California is in a severe budget crisis. Before the state falls into a fiscal abyss, real solutions must be found.

Real solutions do not include raiding trust funds or robbing kids of 911 victims. These gimmicks won't solve California's budget deficit.  They never have nor will they ever work.
OHV users will not tolerate what is essentially a tax on the privilege of owning an OHV. We've paid those taxes. My contribution to the OHV trust fund is not to be used for any other purpose.

If you haven't already, please respond to our Action Alert we sent today.

I will be at the hearing tomorrow.



Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Leadership and Strong Relationships - Key Tenets of ECR2012

The Recreation HQ was at the 2012 National Conference on Environmental Collaboration and Conflict Resolution last week in Tucson, Arizona.   I was invited by the Center for Collaborative Policy (CCP) to give a presentation on Avoiding Litigation: Lessons Learned from USFS Travel Management Planning.
As you may remember, CCP has been the facilitator for a number of OHV recreation planning efforts including the 2002/2003 CA Route Inventory and Designation Process, the 2001/2002 CA OHV Sound Working Group, and the 2005 FS Travel Management Rule.  Some of you have participated in those sessions.

I wrote the following Op Ed on the conference last week with my key takeaways being “Leadership” and “Relationships” as important foundation blocks for successful collaboration between agencies, local government, and user groups.
Amador Op Ed – May 29, 2012 (a good read I hope)

It is my view that planning efforts based on the dry lab of routes overseen by a non-engaged Deciding Officer (usually the Forest Supervisor) are doomed to fail.

Many of you who read this blog know about those successes and failures.  Hopefully, we are entering a new era where agency staff is not simply going through the motions so they can check the “completion box” on their form.   Travel and other plans created without Deciding Officer involvement – including field review - during the pre-scoping phase are a receipt for litigation and/or judgment in the court of public opinion.


Monday, May 28, 2012

Thoughts on 2012 Memorial Day

Don at 2004 D-Day Memorial Wreath at Normandy

After hoisting the Flag at the Recreation HQ today, I wanted to share a thought or two about Memorial Day 2012.  I can’t help but first remember my trip to the 2004 60th Anniversary of D-Day service at Normandy where President Bush gave the following speech.
President Bush Speech at the 60th Anniversary of D-Day (a great and moving read)
That trip and tour (it was a present from my wife for my 50th birthday) was a life changing experience for me.   I got to meet and talk (and even tour) with WW2 vets who were there at D-Day.  Some told me stories they had never told to any of their family members. 

My Dad served in the 97th Infantry in Europe in WW2 (he passed away in 1998).
I also remember those who served and/or died in the Korean and Vietnam Wars.   Frank Price was a Korean War Vet and land-use activist in the Bakersfield area (he has since passed away). 
Gary Wilson was a childhood friend of mine and he was shot down in a helicopter in Vietnam.  I remember playing football and baseball with him and going over to his home where his mom often made Congo squares for us.  I got to visit him at the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington D.C last summer.
As I go to visit my Dad at the cemetery today, I want also want to especially remember those who have fallen (and served) in Iraq and Afghanistan.  I know many of you who have served and while many call the WW2 generation the “Greatest Generation” – I will argue (and my Dad would most likely agree) that this generation is just as great.  

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

HQ Closed May 22-28

HQ is attending and presenting at a national land-use/planning conf. this week.  It will reopen on May 29 after the Memorial Day Weekend.

Monday, May 21, 2012

CODE RED CA ACTION ALERT - Stop Raid on OHV Trust Fund

HQ wants to thank all those riders and groups who helped rally the troops for the May 9 hearing on the proposal by two state senators to gut the OHV grants program.  Your calls raised the temperature on this ill-concieved plan so the legislature postponed it until May 23.

HQ urges OHVers to use the BRC alert today and send emails and make phone calls to your own state legislators asking them not to support the proposed taking of $21 million from the OHV Trust Fund.  Ask them to protect the “Trust” in the Trust Fund.

BRC Alert (emails and calls needed  today, tomorrow, and Wednesday)




YOUR voice is needed to STOP a proposal by two state senators to gut the OHV grant's program.  Their plan to take $21 million from the OHV Trust Fund will basically zero out monies available for grants to maintain FS and BLM trails, to support local county sheriffs and other OHV-related law enforcement, to fund county OHV parks, and to restore degraded trails to a natural condition.

May 17 News Article on Trust Fund Raid

During the May 9 hearing on this issue, a large number of trail users, OHV organizations, rural interests, and outdoor recreation businesses expressed strong opposition to the current proposal by budget committee chairman, Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto). You and your friends must do the same thing for the hearing on May 23.

Here are some key bullet points to make when talking with your legislator:

              OHV Grant Program is a program that works.  The clarity is such that we understand the funding; we know where the money is coming from and how that money is spent.

              It works and it works effectively.

              40 years ago, Republican and Democrat legislators realized that people within the Parks System did not appreciate off-highway vehicle recreation.  Consequently, OHV was given some autonomy within Parks and an OHV Division was created.

              These visionary leaders wanted a strong, organized program that included law enforcement, the remediation of land and education with an understanding of where you can recreate legally.  It works.

              It makes no sense to move the money from the OHV Trust Fund to Parks.

Ask your legislator to oppose Senator Simitian's proposal to take trust fund monies from the OHV Trust Fund.  Remind them these are funds are generated 100% from the users who recreate off-road.

Our good friends at Cal4WD have created an easy to use alert where you may contact your state legislator.


HQ's Don Amador sent his own personal letter today to Senators Simitian, Lowenthal, and DeSaulnier (Mark DeSaulnier is my own senator)


May 21, 2012

Senator Simitian
State Capitol
Sacramento, CA 92449

RE: Don’t Betray the “Trust” on the OHV Trust Fund

Dear Senator Simitian:

I write to you today as a California native and a strong supporter of the California Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) Program. And, I urge you not to betray the public “trust”  by taking $21 million dollars of  user-pay/user-benefit monies from the OHV Trust Fund and diverting it into State Parks.

As a teenager in the late 1960s-70s, I remember filling out a state gas tax refund form where I got a refund from the state treasurer based on the amount of fuel I used when driving my OHV off-road (non-paved dirt roads). I also remember the promise made to me by the proponents of the Chappie-Z’berg Act of 1971 (that established the California OHV Program) that they would use these dedicated “trust” funds to manage motorized recreation. I trusted them.

Over the years, that trust has been betrayed on a number of occasions by both Republican and Democrat officials. In fact, there have been two lawsuits filed by the OHV community that successfully challenged the state government’s legal authority to raid the OHV Trust Fund.

As a member of the negotiating team (OHV, environmentalists, legislature, Governor’s Office) that met throughout the summer of 2007 to hammer out SB742 (the new OHV Program), I remember the group worked hard to make sure that protecting the “trust” in the OHV Trust Fund was a key statutory tenet of that legislation.

Today, I urge your committee to not betray the public-trust again by taking OHV money that is not yours to take.



Don Amador
California Native
555 Honey Lane
Oakley, CA 94561
Phone: 925.625.6287


It is a good idea to also send a letter to Senator's Simitian and Lowenthal as well.

Senator Simitian

Senator Lowenthal

Thanks in advance for your service!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

HQ Closed May 17-20 - In the Field

HQ is closed May 17-20.  Will be in the field with limited cell coverage.  Will reopen May 21.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

As the Stomach Turns - The CA Budget Fight

TV soap operas are where make believe people try and solve torrid love affairs, financial woes, and family tragedies.   The good news - at the end of the day - is that the aforementioned issues are all phony and are simply there for your viewing pleasure.

Unfortunately, the CA “budget soap opera” being played out in Sacramento is all too real.  As I talk with my political contacts in the Capitol, it is my fear that not only is the CA OHV Program in potentially grave trouble, but many non-park related state programs, government employees, and public services will face the budget axe in the near future as well.

HQ believes it is fool hardy for lawmakers to propose an increase in taxes as a tool by which the state can be rescued from running off the proverbial cliff.   Appropriating funds from successful self-funded user-pay/user benefit programs such as OHV is one of the surest signs that the legislature is mentally bankrupt and is not able or willing to make the cuts needed to bring California back from this fiscal crisis.

Basing California’s future on the current fiscal house of cards (increased taxes, taking money from programs such as OHV, etc.) only acts as a catalyst that motivates a growing number of residents to leave the state for greener pastures.     

Be assured that HQ is acutely aware, engaged, and monitoring Parks (will Ruth Coleman stay or be replaced and by whom) and OHMVR (will Daphne come back or who will take her spot)? Will the OHV grants program become a casualty in this budget fight?   There is a lot that will shake out in the next few days and weeks.

This political soap opera is all too real and nobody that I know of (including Donstradamus) has a crystal ball.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

HQ Closed - May 9-11

HQ will be closed while it is in the field - May 9-11.  HQ will reopen on May 14.

Monday, May 7, 2012

BRC's Scoping Comments on Carson City BLM RMP

While up in the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range this last weekend,  I ran into one of my Nevada friends who asked me to post a blog on BRC’s recent land-use efforts in that state.   He felt that often times what BRC does in Nevada is not realized by a lot of general access interests.   I agree.
HQ is well aware that it is hard for the wide array of outdoor recreationists to keep up with posts on various websites and other internet venues.  So here are links to BRC’s scoping comments on the Carson City Field Office’s Resource Management Plan Revision.

BRC’s Scoping Comments on BLM RMP

Also, here are BRC’s March comments regarding the Greater Sage Grouse issue.

BRC’s Sage Grouse Comments

BRC appreciates our members and supporters in Nevada and want them to know we are fighting with them to preserve and protect responsible OHV recreation in their state.  If you are not a BRC member or want to make a donation to BRC to help us continue our efforts in Nevada or elsewhere for that matter… go online today at the link below.

BRC Online Membership and Donations

Thanks for your continued support!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

HQ Closed - May 3-6

HQ will be closed and in the field - May 3-6.  Will reopen May 7.

OR Forest Withdraws Travel Plan

For those of us who have been following the Forest Service’s Travel Management Rule planning process for the last 7-8 years, there appears to be a growing bipartisan effort in Congress to address what amounts to landscape level closures on some units.
The most recent example of local and congressional pushback is where Monica Schwalback, Forest Supervisor for the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest, recently withdrew her travel plan that closed 3,900 miles of routes used by the public for various activities.

Article on WWNF Closure and Withdrawn Plan

It appeared the Forest made an all too familiar mistake by forcing a plan on the public that ignored local input by user groups, individuals, and county government.

HQ believes that successful travel plans must include an engaged public and a will by Forest leadership to draft a plan that serves both local needs and the resource.  Plans created in a vacuum based on the presumption that massive closures are the only tool by which the agency can fulfill its mission are doomed to fail.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Has Travel Planning Become a Mental Squirrel Cage?

Bruce Babbitt, former Secretary of the Interior (Clinton Admin), once said, “The Planning Process IS the Product.”  After spending the last few weeks on various federal units working events and reviewing their OHV management prescriptions, I could not disagree more with Babbitt’s statement.

It has been my experience over the last 22 years that often times travel planning processes have and are being used as a tool to restrict or ban legitimate OHV use.  In other cases, agency staff has crafted plans in a futile effort to avoid lawsuits from environmental groups.  Sometimes, federal officers have worked hard to designate a functional trail system that both protects the resource while providing a quality OHV recreational experience, but don’t have the resources to implement the plan.

Sadly, the common thread between the aforementioned planning scenarios is that it has diverted agency staff and resources away from what I feel the goal of any travel planning process should be – on the ground management of the trail.   What good is a planning effort if there is no staff or money to maintain, construct, or reconstruct a trail? 

Sure, planning efforts are important as they help guide or direct the unit when it comes to management of the area.  However, it appears that in some cases…the planning effort has simply become a mental squirrel cage where people look busy (and they are) as the previous planning process has led to yet another planning process that drains precious staff time away from actually getting out-on-the-ground and taking care of the trail.

I think it would be wise for agency staff and stakeholders to remember that the travel planning product is on-the-ground management of our route system vs. an endless cycle of planning.

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