Monday, July 30, 2012

July 29 Bike Week Radio Features DPR Cabal/Scandal

HQ’s – Don Amador – was on Bike Week Radio on July 29 talking with Scott Cox and the gang about the ongoing budget scandal at CA State Parks.   We covered a lot of issues related directly or indirectly with this issue.  Topics included; culture of corruption at DPR,  institutional bias at DPR against OHV,  wild variances from year to year of funds coming (or not coming) to OHV,  CA Parks Foundation/Green cabal, anti-OHV scheme to defund OHV program and then sue when trails are not maintained,  the look-the-other-way credo at DPR, etc.

This is a hard hitting interview with NO punches pulled.  BE ADVISED – it is not for the weak of heart or for those who do not want to believe that hard-core anti-OHV groups are scheming to get motorized recreation  banned on public lands

My interview runs from 33.24 to 45.37.  The hosts also discussed the issue between themselves until the close of the program – Good on them… they get it!

Click Here to Listen to the July 29 Bike Week Radio Archived Show

Thanks for your support!

Friday, July 27, 2012

CA Parks Foundation Insults OHV in LA Times Article

The comment made by the director of the California State Parks Foundation, Elizabeth Goldstein, about off-road recreationists being her “Children” is really one of the most astounding and arrogant comments I have heard in the last 25 years during my work in the land-use arena.

July 27, 2012 LA Times Article on State Park Budget Scandal with Goldstein’s Comment,0,3856220.story

Karen Schambach’s comment in the same article about the OHV program having large reserves is equally insulting and disingenuous.  What Karen does not tell you is that her group and other anti-OHV organizations and their local counterparts have successfully blocked efforts by the OHV Program and OHV Commission to site new OHV parks throughout the state to meet their legislative mandate to provide high quality motorized recreation for the users.

During the 1990s when I was on the OHV Commission, we worked hard on finding locations in various parts of the state.   New SVRAs were proposed in Humboldt and San Diego Counties and everywhere in between.  However, green NIMBY groups blocked us every step of the way. Greens continued their blocking efforts during the 2000s.

Riders should not be fooled by the faux outrage being articulated by Elizabeth Goldstein, Karen Schambach and other anti-OHV groups and their supporters in the legislature.  The Sustainable Parks Initiative was a not so cleverly disguised direct attack on the OHV Program with a particularly sharp hit on the grants program… all designed to degrade management of OHV recreation to a point where Karen and PEER could then sue to have the area shut down.  (e.g. Carnegie SVRA,  Eldorado NF, etc.)

Although OHV recreation continues to grow and prosper in other states and regions of the country, motorized recreationists have a very tough fight ahead of us in CA.  The good news is that I believe anti-OHV groups, on a national basis, have already reached their zenith (circa 1990s) and are on the way downhill in their ability to kill motorized recreational activity.

The battle in CA will require OHV leadership to think and act outside of the box and to focus sharply on more effective ways of defeating our political opponents.

Thanks for your continued diligence and support!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Green Park Groups Fear Blowback from DPR Scandal

HQ Commentary by Don Amador

The Recreation HQ believes the article published today by the SacBee regarding how certain Park-related non-profits is really on target.

July 25, 2012, SacBee Article on Fear Striking Park-related Non-Profits

I believe the CA Parks Foundation and other park-related non-profits should be afraid of public outrage and blowback from the OHV community because of their Sustainable Parks Initiative that was based on a lie.  That plan had as its “foundation block” the complete evisceration of the OHV Program and its grants program to federal and county partners.

I personally believe that certain non-profits are in fact nothing more than stealth branches of the Department of Parks and Recreation.  This scandal proves that abuse by Parks of the OHV Trust Fund has become institutionalized and has been an accepted way of doing business.

Further proof of OHV being nothing more than a political football to be kicked around by green groups and their friends at DPR was also highlighted in a 2005 audit of the program by the Bureau of State Audits.  *They only scratched the surface in my opinion.

That report had a lot to do with OHV leadership pushing for a complete overhaul of the OHV program that was set to expire on Jan. 1, 2008.  That effort in 2007 resulted in SB742, the new CA OHV Program.

BRC News Release on OHV Being a Political Football (with a link to the 2005 BSA Audit)

Just where this ends up is uncertain.  But be assured that this issue has lot of riders fired up and let’s hope we can turn that energy into something positive for OHV.

# # #

Friday, July 20, 2012

Alliance Between East Bay Parks and Eco-Activists to Ban OHV Use at Tesla

Some HQ readers will remember that on July 2, 2012, the BRC issued a news release regarding the advocacy role of East Bay Regional Parks District regarding their demands for “passive use” of the Tesla Property.

June 2, 2012 BRC News Release with info

That concern prompted HQ commander and BRC western rep, Don Amador, to file a Public Records Act request on the District to see if there has been any pressure from local Eco groups and the adjacent land owner – Celeste Garamendi – to influence the District to try ban or restrict OHV use on the Tesla Property.

The District recently responded to the PRA with a lot of documents.  HQ is still reviewing the information, but what we have seen so far is that there was a concerted effort by Celeste Garamendi in early 2007 to pressure the District to include the Tesla property in their 2007 General Plan map which would then drive the District’s current general planning process which has public meetings in Sept. 2012.

In the Celeste March 19, 2007 letter to District Board Member,  Ms. Wieskamp, you will notice her desire to create political momentum …”a change in policy direction for the property [Tesla] will have to evolve from outside of the OHV Division.”

Celeste Garamendi March 19, 2007 Letter and other correspondence with the District

Not only was Celeste et al successful in getting the District Board to approve the 2007 General Plan Map which now includes Tesla, but has been successful in getting Assemblymember, Joan Buchanan, State Senator Mark DeSaulnier, and State Senator Loni Hancock to write a June 8, 2012 letter opposing OHV recreation on the Tesla Property.

June 8, 2012 Buchanan, DeSaulnier, and Hancock Letter

Thankfully we have a very active OHV Commission and on July 16, 2012, OHV Commissioner, Diana Perez, countered the Buchanan letter with a well written response to Secretary Laird.

July 16, 2012 Perez Letter

Stay tuned on this issue as HQ and BRC work to uncover what appears to be unethical actions that may be in conflict with CEQA daylight regulations.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Post Fire Photos of Stonyford Fire - July 19

As the Forest Service continues to assess and restore the impacts the fire and/or the fire suppression efforts had on the resource and trail network, HQ wanted to share some photos shot yesterday at various locations that many of you will recognize.  

I can’t help but wonder why the agency allows heavy equipment to cut massive fire-lines (see dozer line photo) through “sensitive areas” without any project-level NEPA or review by specialists, yet requires massive planning efforts to put in a 50-inch or single track trail.  It does not make much sense to me.

Also, we are glad to report that Seth Watkins (his dad – Greg Watkins - used to work for the FS in R5 as a road engineer and sign guru) was able to retrieve his trailer that he had to leave at Letts Lake when the fire broke out.

Will try and keep you updated as more photos and info comes in.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Mill Fire Spares Little Stony OHV Campground - July 17 Update

Based on field reports today, the Mill Fire is at 75% containment as of this morning.  Little Stony Campground and Day Use areas escaped destruction. The weather is really cooperating...overcast and cool.  This is allowing crews to go direct with hand lines on some of the areas north above Little Stony. 

HQ believes the hand lines are a good thing since there is too much cat line already.  Full containment should be reached today with restoration efforts already in progress.  The fire should hold at just under 30K acres. 

In contrast to the 2001 Trough Fire which decimated the Fouts Springs and Davis Flat OHV camping areas, the Mill Fire mainly hit the trail system and spared the Fouts Springs and Little Stony OHV Camping and Staging areas.

Thanks for your continued interest in this issue.  No doubt there will be plenty of work to do getting the trail system up and running.  Stay tuned.

Friday, July 13, 2012

HQ closed and in the field - July 13-16

HQ will be in the field July 13-16.  Will reopen on July 14.

Friday O-Dark Thirty Report on Stonyford Fire - Things Looking Up

Photo (July 12) above:  Backfires at the Harvey place
Photo (July 12) below: Backfires and crews at the Ray place 

This is HQ’s Friday “O-Dark Thirty” report.  According to our man on the ground, Jeff Applegate, a
lot of the front country went up in smoke in the backfires today.
 Gilmore and Crackerbox went up in flame today, but he Handlebar Ranch (owned by Taz Harvey and family, off-road motorcycle and auto racer) and the 4Q Ranch (owned by Phil Ray, dirt-track legend and owner of Modesto KAW) should now be safe.
 They used air dropped ping pong balls, very pistols,  and drip torches for the burn out.  Everything is going according to plan on the east flank.  Two spots are burning very hot on their own...Lower Letts area and the area to either side of Trail 22 directly north of the Little Stony Day Use area.
There is a large contingent of resources in the Little Stony Area, so HQ is confident  they will protect that staging area.  Fire is now estimated at 18K and continues to grow.  48% containment as of last night. 
Looking better, but a lot of damage has been sustained to our trail system.

HQ wants to thank all of its readers for their thoughts and prayers regarding the fire threats to life, property, and the natural resources.   We also want to salute the firefighters and tanker crews for working very hard in the extreme hot weather.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Stonyford Fire Update - July 12 @ 11:00am

Photo (July 11 - afternoon): Looking at OHV Area from
Lodoga/Stonyford Rd.

Here is HQ’s July 12 am report based on intel from a 1900 briefing last night.   Fran Peace from Congressman Wally Herger’s Office was in attendance. 
 With luck they will keep the fire below Miner ridge, saving the Goat Mt. area.  Also, Little Stony is spared for now. That's the good news.  The bad news is that the fire will double in size.  They will start firing out along Stonyford/Lodoga Road today at 1100 (HQ will have its reporter on scene for that), bringing the fire on around the new cat-line to the Goat Mt. Road.  This will burn out all the front country fuels that are a threat to East Park Estates, Century Ranch and homes along the main road.
It appears their plan for the canyon is to use fire (probably a helitorch)  to light off as much as will burn along the rim of the main canyon, which would include all trails and side canyons up to Big Sullivan or Pine Ridge.  They cannot burn out from the road because of serpentine and spotty fuels, but want to remove as much vegetation as possible on the north side of L. Stony Road to prevent rekindling in the event of a wind or weather change which could send the fire possibly to the south side of Little Stony canyon (a bad thing) and on to Lovelady, Goat Mt. and Lake County.  
Everything up to Mill Valley, south to Crackerbox and on the north along the M10 corridor is slicked off. The fire is currently 16,800 acres, but it is estimated to be closer to 30K when finally contained if the plan is executed flawlessly. 
HQ believes the media has not covered what the fire's impact will have on special events such as motorcycle enduros and casual OHV use this fall and winter.  As many of you know, the Fouts Springs OHV Camping area often becomes the largest “city” in Colusa County during the Christmas/New Year Holiday Season with up to 2-4 thousand people camping and riding there.  The fire may have a serious impact on that activity this year.
HQ thanks local Stonyford resident and former FS OHV program manager, Jeff Applegate, on the Grindstone RD  for his excellent feedback on the progress of the fire.
# # #

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

North Wind Puts Little Stony Campground in Danger - July 11 - Noon Update

Photo above: Fire Heading Towards Little Stony Campground
Photo below: BRC's Brian Hawthorne at Little Stony on a CA Trip
a few years ago

Due to a recent shift in the winds at about 11:15 am today, the smoke and fire is now being driven south by north winds and is heading for Little Stony OHV Camp/Staging Area.   Stay tuned as HQ believes this situation has grown worse in the last hour or so.     
HQ thanks its team of local reporters and residents who are helping us keep off-road fans of the Stonyford area informed on this critical situation.
Will bring updates as they come in.  Please leave a note if you think these updates are of value.

Stonyford Fire Update - July 11 @ 8am

Recent Photo Taken from OHV Trail Intersection of Fire Advancing Towards
Sullivan Ridge

Jeff Applegate tells HQ there are no big changes overnight.   It looks like they are going to use Crackerbox as a fire line since it sounds like Gilmore has burned over on top.  Fire is still advancing toward Goat Mt. and Little Stony Canyon.  It has apparently slopped over M5 in several spots and is moving south.  Big and Little Sullivan ridges and everything to the south is threatened.    Also, Cal Fire has been using a DC-10 on the Sites Fire burning West of Maxwell towards Stonyford.   FS says the plane is not practical to use on the Mill Fire.  Little use of air tankers due to smoke.  Mostly helicopters around the perimeter to aid hand crews and dozers.  A type 2 fire team has taken over management of the fire as of yesterday. 

Again, HQ believes this is a huge blow to the recreation community as this unit is a premier destination OHV area that sees visitors from throughout the U.S and Canada and is an important element in the state-wide OHV recreation matrix.

PS - Phil Ray's Ranch survived so far.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Stonyford 9am July 10 Fire Update - Big Impacts to OHV

Photo (July 10 at 7 am) above: Looking South from main road at Fouts Springs Camp Area
Photo July 10 at 7am) below: SST at Nail Track

After talking with HQ’s Jeff Applegate this morning, it appears we have some better information regarding the extent of impact to the District's OHV program.  The public briefing last night was pretty good, but it was short on details. Today, it looks like the destruction is more widespread including the loss of Old Mill Campground and some damages to  Nail Track.  OHV routes that sustained impacts from the fire so far includes:  20, 22, 27, 28, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 39, 40, 42, 43 & 48.  It appears there will be even more damage as the plan is to maybe use Big Sullivan and Crackerbox as a fire line. The good news is the fire activity is low so far this morning. 

HQ is glad to report that the Taz Harvey Ranch survived so far.  We have not heard about Phil Ray’s Ranch but we expect it did OK too.  According to Taz, the Stonyford Rodeo Grounds (staging area for the Sheet Iron 300 Dual Sport Ride) is full of firefighters and equipment.  They are prepared to finish this fire off and do mop up operations over the next week or two.

This is a huge blow to the recreation community as this unit is a premier destination OHV area that sees visitors from throughout the U.S and Canada and is an important element in the state-wide OHV recreation matrix.

PS - Just got a note from Andrew Fulks at the Goat Mountain Ranch and the fire is now marching towards his property and is 3.5 miles away.

Will have an update later today as info comes in.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Stonyford Fire Getting Worse - 3pm Update

3PM Photo of Fire Approaching Gilmore

According to reports from HQ’s Jeff Applegate and our FS contacts, the Mill Fire on the Grindstone Ranger District has gotten much worse.   According to our man on the ground, things are intensifying up there.  All of the main ridge-line trails and their off-shoots are being impacted. 
So far the whole south-end front country is being destroyed.  The ridges being gobbled up by fire are Trough, Grove, Salt, Hornet’s Nest, Gilmore and everything connecting them together, which amounts to all the front country riding. 
In addition, Letts ridge and a lot of Potato Hill are wiped out.    The fire is currently dropping down towards the area just south of Stonyford and is advancing on the Harvey (Taz Harvey Family) Ranch, Ray’s Ranch (Phil Ray, owner of Modesto Kaw),  and East Park Estates (the loop).  Also, several of my friends from the conservation community have property up there.
The 3 p.m. photo above is taken from Applegate’s front yard.  Notice Gilmore Peak in the path of the advancing fire.  There is a community meeting briefing scheduled for 1900 tonight in Stonyford.
Let’s keep everybody in our thoughts and prayers!

Stonyford OHV Areas Ordered Closed Today

July 9 11:30 AM photo taken by Applegate looking
from near Stonyford west and north towards Fouts Springs

The Mendocino NF has issued a Forest Order closing the S. End of the Forest to public use.
July 9 Forest Order

HQ’s on scene reporter, Jeff Applegate, says he just heard that the Fouts Springs area is looking good.  The fire is slowly moving south and east.  It is currently bumping Gilmore Ridge. 
Let's remember that off-road champions Phil Ray and Taz Harvey have property and homes that are still in harms way.  Also, Jeff Applegate and other OHV stakeholders could be in harms way too.

As many of you know, there is a lot of fuel on the forest floor including downed trees from the 2001 Trough Fire.
Good news on the Fouts Springs OHV Camping/Staging Area being safe so far!

PS-Let's remember that off-road champions Phil Ray and Taz Harvey have property and homes that are still in harms way. Also, Jeff Applegate and other OHV stakeholders could be in harms way too if the winds pick up this afternoon!

Massive Wildfire at N. Cal OHV Area

Photo taken July 8 in the evening by Jeff Applegate looking up from his house near Stonyford
to Trough Springs Area

How many remember the 2001 Trough Fire that nuked the Fouts Springs OHV Area and burned through the Snow Mountain Wilderness? 
It looks like we have a repeat going on with the new Mill Fire that started on July 7.  According to information given today to the HQ by the former FS OHV manager, Jeff Applegate,  who lives near Stonyford  - the fire is approaching 10k acres and has burned up everything between Fouts Springs and Trough Ridge clear down to the Visitor Station.
Jeff says the prognosis is not good with voluntary evacuations all the way down Fouts Springs Road to Stonyford.  Many trails in the Letts Ridge area are burned over including Letts Ridge 32.  It also appears that somebody  started additional 5 fires yesterday afternoon on Sites Lodoga Road totally 2.5K acres. 
Both fires are still very active with more trails in the Hornet’s  Nest Cracker Box and Trough Ridge areas threatened.  So far the staging area and Boy's Ranch are intact, but fire bumping both areas. 
Will keep you posted as news breaks.

Friday, July 6, 2012

New Park Service MTB Policy and PEER's Trail Skunk Award

The Recreation HQ wants to applaud the new NPS mountain-bike policy which allows for unit managers to make site-specific decisions on mountain-bike trail opportunities.   HQ also wants to give out its 1st ever “Trail Skunk” award to PEER for its crisis mongering about this new policy.

PEER’s “Trail Skunk” News Release

News Article on new NPS Mountain Bike Plan

HQ believes there are a lot of good mountain-bike opportunities on public lands including lands managed by the National Park Service.  In many places, the OHV community is a co-user of those routes and we look forward to working with the mountain-bike community on joint recreation projects that benefit all user groups.  Redwood National Park is one unit where HQ believes there are a lot of future mountain bike trail opportunities on existing logging roads.  Also, new connector trails constructed between  skid roads could make for some great riding experiences.

Many dirt-bikers also mountain-bike such as new radio show host and MX star, Broc Glover.

HQ sends its best to IMBA and the mountain bike community on this important policy shift.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Smokey Bear and 4th of July

The Recreation HQ wants to wish riders the very best on this 4th of July.   As wildfires continue to rage in a number of states, we thought it was interesting to see a recent article with Smokey Bear riding in an OHV.

SF Chronicle Article with Smokey Bear in an OHV

It is great to see the Ad Council listened to our concerns about their 2008 ad campaign which had Smokey Bear telling OHVers to simply pack up and go home vs. riding their vehicles on designated roads, trails, and areas.

Links to the 2008 Ad Council/Smokey Bear Controversy

Be fire safe and best wishes to you and yours on this Independence Day.