Sunday, August 20, 2017

OHV Meets "Challenge" of 21st Century at Torrance Commission Meeting



The recent CA OHV Commission meeting/tour in the LA area made me Trail Proud and highlighted why the OHV community (consultants, clubs, lobbyists, industry, partners, supporters, agency, advocates, et al) should take pride in how this highly popular outdoor activity has matured over the last 30 years into a sport that has effective professional and volunteer representation at the grassroots, administrative, legal, and political levels.

CA OHV Commission Meeting in Torrance, CA


I feel it is important to share with you my quick takeaways from the last two days.  So, I will break them down into a few of the most important topics.

Reauthorization of the CA OHV Program – OHV’s collective efforts over the last 7 months was acknowledged by legislative leads from State Parks and the Governor’s Office when they stated for the record that the administration could simply not support Senator Allen’s SB249 as written because it was too complex and had too many unachievable requirements.   Instead they are using the current SB742 language as the basis for reauthorization and meeting with Senator Allen to review potential language that might address his concerns without destroying the program.  We should see the results of this effort over the course of the next two weeks as the legislative sausage-making draws to a close for 2017.

State Park/Administration Leads Give Update on Reauthorization Process

State Parks Transformation Process - As many of you know, there has been an ongoing process over the last 2 years or more by State Parks to try and modernize the State Park System (both motorized and non-motorized units) to make it more streamlined, relevant, and responsive to the public.  27 years ago when I started my OHV career, the OHMVR program was considered more of a bother than an important member of the Parks’ family.  Based on that past history, many in OHV had concerns that the OHMVR Division/Program would lose its identity and specialized skills if it was integrated into the “Family.”

L to R - Randy Short, Commissioner CA Boating and Waterways - Paul Slavik, Commissioner CA OHV Program - Don Amador, Trail Guy

To Parks’ credit, their leadership listened to those concerns and made a substantive effort to learn about how OHV recreation (and our powersports sister agency – Boating and Waterways) has become a critical and important factor in the statewide recreation opportunity spectrum.  

Presentation at Urban State Park in LA

In fact, commission and executive staff from the CA Department of Boating and Waterways were at the OHV commission meeting/tour.  This represents Parks’ commitment to cross-pollenate (i.e. better appreciate and utilize) the skills, staff, and other resources that exist in the various motorized and non-motorized State Park programs.

LAPD Off-Road Patrol talks about their Partnership with the OHV Program

 The commission tour and meeting which largely featured how Parks (both motorized and non-motorized) is working to achieve those aforementioned transformation goals and objectives.

Preparing Youth for Service 

Youth Movement – The meeting/tour also highlighted how OHV recreation and Parks is playing an important role in serving the children and teens of South LA.  Attendees had the privilege to tour the Challenger Boys and Girls Club in South LA and see the many youth development programs they manage.  One of those programs is the National Youth Project Using Minibikes (NYPUM) that uses small dirt-bikes to teach self-esteem and life values.

Challengers Club Director Talks About NYPUM Training Site

MYPUM was founded in 1993 and is supported by the American Honda Motor Company.  It is managed by the Robert F. Kennedy Children’s Action Corps in Boston, MA.

We also learned about a recent field trip where youth from the NYPUM program got to ride dirt-bikes at Hungry Valley State Vehicular Recreation Area… they had a blast!


Closing Personal Observation – It was sort of an emotional time for me at the commission meeting that was being held at the Honda Museum since it was several of their Rider Education Program leads (Paul Slavik and Charlie Keller) in the early 1990s that helped mentor me in the early part of my OHV advocacy and trail stewardship career. 

Over the years, I put a lot miles on a non-factory version of this Honda XR600

 As a member and former chairman of the OHV commission (circa mid/late 1990s), I was proud of that oversight body’s growth and professionalism over the years that was noted by several folks I talked with at the meeting.  I also want to commend Commission Chair Cabral, other commissioners, agency staff, and partners for their ongoing efforts to champion environmentally sound OHV recreation for current and future generations.

OHV must remain ever vigilant.  But on occasion, it is important for us to celebrate the many positive steps that we have accomplished over the last 30-50 years.



Thursday, July 13, 2017

SB 249 Hearing Update with Video of Hearing - Must See OHV TV

OHV Supporters Line Up to Speak in in Favor of the Currrent OHV Program
and in Opposition to SB249

SB 249 Hearing Update (Video of Hearing) – Many OHVers have heard the term to describe the ugly process of legislation as “sausage-making.”  The following 45 min. video (thanks to our OHV lobby team for making this video available!) gives the general OHV community a good peek into the dark work of land-use politics.  Having been engaged in land use politics for the past 27 years at the state and federal level, this video (OHV starts at 50:20) starting with SB249 sponsor, Senator Ben Allen, illustrates the political spin of trying to cast the bill as a pro-OHV bill that simply wants to basically reauthorize the current OHV program by adding just a few simple amendments.

LINK to SB249 on my FB Page

After Sen. Allen’s presentation you will find environmental representatives that make false declarative statements against the OHV program and by inference … Division staff.

At 1:03:23, you will listen to OHV lobbyist, Terry McHale, strongly defend the current OHV program and highlight SB249’s fatal flaws.  He highlights the fact that the program is a National Model and that SB249 was created in a vacuum without input from OHV.  Terry also points out that SB249 places unreasonable environmental standards on SVRAs (which may even extend to other “units” of the system which include FS/BLM/County riding areas). He is a good friend of OHV and one of our best advocates in Sacto. 

At 1:08:45, I highlight my concerns about the legal mine field laid by SB249 and the fiscal impacts it would have on the program… if the program continues at all in a SB 249-based program.  I also join Terry in making a commitment to work with Sen. Allen and the proponents in a bipartisan manner to address remaining issues and concerns.

At 1:11, a representative for rural farm workers stated his opposition to SB249 because of the potential impacts to the OHV grants program.

At 1:13, you will see various pro-OHV representatives from rural counties, OHV industry, OHV clubs, and others speak in opposition to SB249.  Am very proud of the OHV Coalition!

At 1:16, the vice chair (a rural legislator and OHVer) restates the fact the SB249 had no real stakeholder engagement and that the bill could impact OHV areas in his district and also impact motorized access to non-motorized recreation.  Other legislators weighed in as well.

Maybe the most important thing at the hearing happened at the end when Sen. Allen made a commitment to “work” in a more substantive manner with rural legislators and OHV representatives to resolve issues.   The bill did pass with an 8-5 vote, but that vote was based on future meetings with affected parties to resolve issues.  This battle is far from over.  Thanks for taking time to watch this video!


Wednesday, July 12, 2017

OP-ED - Rebuttal to CNPS's Anti-OHV Political Campaign (SB 249) Article

Hillside Restoration Project - Carnegie SVRA

Op-Ed
July 12, 2017
By Don Amador

*Permission is hereby granted to reprint article

Rebuttal to CNPS Vol. 47 (July – Sept. 2017) Pro – SB 249 Political Campaign Article: Environmental Damage from OHV Activity is Outpacing California’s Ability to Repair It

LINK TO CNPS ARTICLE

This is a response to a recent California Native Plant Society (CNPS) anti-OHV political campaign (SB 249) article that was referenced (page 22) in the official California Department of Parks and Recreation Weekly Digest published on July 7, 2017.

SB 249 was crafted in the dark of night by the California Native Plant Society (CNPS) and a small group of extreme environmental groups over the course of the last two years without OHV involvement. At this time, not one OHV organization supports SB 249.

The bill fundamentally redirects this environmentally sound, highly successful and nationally acclaimed OHV program - with a recreation focus - to a non-OHV program with a preservation focus that relies on lawsuits and trail closures as primary “management” tools.

Engineered OHV Trail with OHV Bridge to Protect Stream Course
Eldorado NF - Supported by CA OHV Grant Program


Since the creation of the California OHV program with the passage of the Chappie-Z’Berg OHV Act in 1971, OHV leaders have played an important role as stakeholders each time the program has come up for sunset review and reauthorization.  OHV leadership has a wide variety of expertise in all issues relating to OHV recreation, both technical and environmental, with specific knowledge on the interaction between state and federal land management processes.

Sediment Catch Basin - Rubicon Trail
Collaborative Project between CA OHV Grant Program, Eldorado County, Eldorado NF
and OHV Recreationists

Entire sections of SB 249 significantly alter priorities in ways that are obviously unacceptable to active California recreationists. There are also numerous examples of incorrect definitions, calls for unnecessary reports and demands for duplicative agency consultation that portray a lack of understanding of the interplay already required to create best management practices for areas that host OHV recreation.

OHV Travel Management Sign - Carnegie SVRA


It is clear that CNPS and partners crafted this bill with a goal of unduly hampering and purposely setting roadblocks to a program that is world renowned for its existing high standards with regards to both recreation opportunities and environmental conditions. They want the motorized parks to be held to an environmental standard equal to the non-motorized parks – an absurdity at every level.

CA OHV Grant Funded Restoration Project
Tahoe NF

Furthermore there is no accountability for either reliably foreseen or unanticipated consequences of the drastic measures called for in the bill. Based on estimates from DPR and OHV experts, the magnitude of the costs to the state for land restoration and mitigation for federal, city and county lands, as called for by SB 249, could range from $11M to $20M per year.  Expected legal liability cost estimates could be in the tens of millions of dollars per year.

SB 249 focuses solely on management of natural and cultural resources while ignoring important recreation-related water quality and soil erosion mitigation measures and trail facility maintenance activities.

Engineered Contour OHV Trail
Carnegie SVRA

SB 249 contains errors in the description of adaptive management as it is used in conjunction with a monitoring program. To those experienced in land policy, adaptive management is an ongoing process of evaluation leading to changes in operations to improve on-the-ground conditions. Many components are part of this process, although the bill stresses solely natural and cultural resources.

Engineered OHV Trail with Rolling Dip and Sediment Catch Basin
Eldorado NF

OHV stakeholders believe that water quality, erosion and sedimentation evaluations are equally critical, although none of these important issues are mentioned. Furthermore, natural and cultural resources are mentioned many times in the bill without adequate definition which will only lead to confusion in future decisions.

CA OHV Grant Funded Meadow Restoration Project
Stanislaus NF


SB 249 seeks to prohibit use of existing roads in state vehicular recreation areas that were created by previous land owners. The bill would require the state to compile reports of accidents, citations and other infractions from all areas of the state, including federal lands, where off-road recreation occurs. This is a burden placed on no other unit of state parks, the information is not currently collected by state parks, nor is it required by any federal agency. Furthermore there is no justification for the need for this report, leading OHV leadership to conclude this is an unwarranted data collection effort that will be used by SB 249 proponents to discredit public land agencies and off-road recreationists.

CA OHV Grant Funded Multi-Use Trail
Eldorado NF


SB 249 requires the Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation (OHMVR) Division to change its purpose from managing for sustainable off-road recreation to primarily managing for non-recreation focused on the protection of natural and cultural resources.

Specialized Equipment to Maintain Trails
Supported by CA OHV Grant Program

SB 249 seeks to portray and require restoration work to be done in an absolute fashion and be fully mitigated no matter the cause of the damage. Wildfires, earthquakes, rain and other weather phenomena can cause considerable damage, yet the effect of this damage is not differentiated from ongoing maintenance due to OHV activities. Other state parks are not responsible for acts of Mother Nature and it is inappropriate to place that burden on this program and this division. Minimizing impact to land from all forms of human interaction, whether through motorized or non-motorized activities is a goal already undertaken by all park units to the extent possible.

Sanitation Facilities to Protect Water Quality - Supported by CA OHV Grants
Rubicon Trail - Eldorado NF

SB 249 adds numerous agencies for consultation and written reports as requirements to be produced, which does nothing to improve environmental conditions on the ground. The redirected time will make performing environmental activities and restoration difficult, be extremely time consuming and add a considerable cost consideration for all entities concerned when there is no indication that anything is amiss in the current program.

CA OHV Grant Funded Restoration Project 
Stanislaus NF

The OHMVR Division does much more than manage State Vehicular Recreation Areas (SVRAs).  Its efforts include everything from law enforcement to supporting the economic viability of rural counties.  The program also supports OHV recreation on lands managed by the Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management and counties.

CA OHV Grant Program Supports County LE/Search and Rescue Programs

Again, I believe the regulatory mandates and related compliance requirements place the entire program (SVRAs and units managed by the USFS/BLM/counties) in both legal and fiscal jeopardy.  The legislation creates a target rich environment for future litigation based on the alleged failure of the OHVMR Division and other units to comply with a host of new and unwarranted regulations and reporting schedules.

OHV organizations are urging legislators and the Governor to support reauthorization of the current program that was substantially improved upon 10 years ago in a bipartisan manner under the leadership of Senator Darrell Steinberg (SB 742).

Don Amador was a member of the 2007 bipartisan legislative team that drafted SB742 upon which the current OHV program is based.  Don works as a consultant to the BlueRibbon Coalition/Sharetrails.org.  Don is president of Quiet Warrior Racing, a recreation consulting business.  Don is a 2016 inductee into the Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame.  Don was also an OHMVR Commissioner (1994-2000) Don may be reached by email at: damador@cwo.com




Thursday, June 15, 2017

Take the BRC/Sharetrails.org Challenge this Summer - JOIN or DONATE TODAY


As many of you are gearing up to enjoy various summer OHV activities (both casual and permitted), I want reach out to those of you who are not members of BRC/Sharetrails.org or those of you who have not made a donation this year.

Many of you who are on my email list are BRC members and generous donors who support the sport.  However, for those of you who want to help support BRC’s grassroots, legislative, administrative, or legal efforts please JOIN or DONATE today.  This is the only time this summer that I will ping you on this subject.

I can’t stress strongly enough the importance of having you support our efforts to keep trails open for OHV recreation. 

I would not ask you to do anything that I would not do, so since I can’t JOIN BRC (I am already a member), I made a donation today… it is simple to take the challenge by clicking on the link below and either JOIN or DONATE.  There are various donation accounts for your selection.

TAKE THE JOIN OR DONATE CHALLENGE HERE

I hope to see many of you out on the trail this summer!

Thanks,

Don Amador
Western Representative
BlueRibbon Coalition/Sharetrails.org




Friday, June 2, 2017

SB 249 Update - Death by a Thousand Lawsuits



 QUICK UPDATE ON SB 249 SENATE VOTE YESTERDAY – First, I want to thank all of you who took time – (on short notice) yesterday to contact your state senator.   Because of your efforts yesterday and past efforts on this subject, there was much stronger bi-partisan opposition to SB 249 than the bill’s author expected.  The final vote was Yes – 22, No – 15.  I believe the vote tally will help our fight in the assembly.

The OHV Coalition remains in strong opposition to SB 249.  I remain convinced that any SB 249-based OHV Program would actually kill the current program that has been acclaimed as a “National Model” for managed/sustainable OHV recreation.  It would open all OHV areas that receive grant funds (i.e. SVRAs, BLM, FS, County) to an endless parade of environmental lawsuits under the premise that the units are not in compliance with local and regional “conservation plans” from entities such as Resource Conservation Districts, East Bay Regional Parks, other agency and NGO conservation or resource plans.

SB 249 remains a kill-shot bill directed at all local, state, and federal OHV units.

The good news is that there are other hearings and as you know - this battle will now be fought in the assembly.

I expect the fight to continue through the end of August.  It’s going to be a long hot summer!

Thanks,

Don Amador
The Recreation HQ


PS - Death by a Thousand Lawsuits - Another takeaway from the hearing yesterday were the comments by Allen and/or another supporters about the numerous lawsuits against Carnegie SVRA with the subtle inference that “lawsuits” might be a good reason to severely restrict OHV use on a unit or maybe even close that unit (local, state or fed) to OHV and sell or transfer/transform it for non-motorized activities.



Thursday, June 1, 2017

CODE RED ALERT - Stop SB 249 in Senate Vote Today





STAT ACTION REQUIRED this AM – Senate Vote on SB 249 is today

The Recreation HQ is firing up its CODE RED Alert System and is asking you to take just a minute or two this a.m. to contact your own CA State Senator and ask them to VOTE NO or replacement of the “urgency” which was taken out of the current version of SB 249 as a way to marginalize state senators who support the current CA OHV Program.

LINK so you can quickly find your own state senator


OHV Community Alert to Senate Floor (for additional info and topics)

  

Bullet Points:

·         Ask them to vote NO on SB 249 or replacement of the “urgency” to keep the bill in the Senate for further discussions

·         SB 249 would force the complete rewrite of OHV regulations that would halt any grants going to county law enforcement, conservation/restoration efforts, and safety programs for a period of at least one year or the grants program might not even exist in any meaningful capacity.

·         OHV is an important multi-billion dollar per year economic benefit to the state and local economy

·         The OHV Program is a national model of environmentally sound recreation

·         The current OHV program was created in a bipartisan manner under the leadership of Senator Steinberg in 2007. The OHV program provides critical funding for law enforcement, search and rescue, conservation, and protection of natural and cultural resources.

Please do this today!

Thanks,

Don Amador