Friday, August 31, 2012

CA OHV Trust Fund Battle Remains Hot Issue (with Video)

As we head into the Labor Day Holiday Weekend, it only seems appropriate for the Recreation HQ to give riders an update on the fight to protect our OHV Trust Fund.

This has been the most intensive 4 month period of time for me on a professional basis since I started working on land-use issues in 1990.  Fighting to protect the OHV Trust Fund has been one of the toughest state fights  combined with an additional host of federal land use challenges.

I want to borrow a recent quote from Terry McHale who is an OHV lobbyist in Sacramento (you can see him in action at 1:39:19 in the video below) where he said, ”Things are better than they were.”

After watching the almost hour long video below where the legislature debates on how to use the 34M dollars found in the scandal at State Parks,  I agree with Terry that OHV has become more of a front and center issue.  Never before have I seen a state legislative body discuss in detail the three funding pots for OHV (e.g.  registration fees, park fees, and off-road fuel tax monies).

It is clear to me that they had been briefed in detail and were painfully aware of how hot an issue this has become.   HQ recommends you watch the entire OHV portion of the video so you too may understand the import of this debate.  You will see the Department of Finance give circular answers to the elected officials.  Both Democrats and Republicans challenge the Department of Finance to give accurate accounts of the 34M. 

Video (OHV starts at 55:05) of 8/23/12 Budget Committee Hearing on AB1478

There are a lot of good quotes in the video but one of the best was when Senator Simitian stated (1:03:10) that he had “taken a lot of hell” from  users regarding his original plan to gut the local assistance grants program and cap it at 10M.  You will see an effort by him to restore 11M on top of that 10M cap to make the grants program partially whole again.  However, I don’t think we will know if that happens until the Attorney General completes his investigation later this year.

Thanks to all who worked so very hard on this issue and to those of you who supported us  or sent in letters, made phone calls, and got your county board of supervisors to weigh in.

The OHV Trust Fund Saga continues…

Friday, August 10, 2012

OHV Still Alive Budget Hearing Yesterday

Yesterday’s Assembly Budget Subcommittee #6’s informational hearing mostly skirted talking directly about the OHV Trust Fund but rather focused on the need for the legislature to be assured of agency accounting practices so elected officials don’t look like fools and public trust is restored.

Pro-Access Subcommittee Member, Jim Nielsen, issued a news release on the need for accountability with a special need to focus on State Parks.  I agree!

During the public comment period, it was a good thing that AMA’s Nick Haris and BRC’s Don Amador were there to counter the two representatives from the CA Parks Foundation and the Sierra Club who both seemed to feel they remain entitled to most if not all of the OHV Trust Fund.  Haris pointed out to the committee members that about 190 million dollars has been stolen from the OHV Trust Fund over the last 30 years and that the grants program does indeed fund many non-motorized projects such as improving trailhead access at multiple use facilities restoration of OHV impacted lands.


August 9, 2012
Chairman Bob Blumfield  
State Capitol
Sacramento, CA 92449
RE: Hearing Today on Special Funds - Please lift the
10M cap on the OHV Grants program and restore it to 26M
Dear Chairman Blumfield and Assembly Budget Subcommittee # 6 Members:
  AMA District 36 President, Dave Pickett, and I met with Chairman Gordon 2 weeks ago and urged him to support removal of the 10M cap imposed on the OHV Local Assistance Grant program.  That program funds important trail-related maintenance, restoration, and law enforcement at OHV areas that are part of the state-wide OHV recreation matrix.  We now know that 10M cap was based on false information from State Parks, the California Parks Foundation, and the Public Employees for Environmental Ethics.
   As you know, I was 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 lift the 10M cap off the OHV Grants Program and restore it to 26M which makes the program sustainable and bring accountability back to State Parks and the OHV Trust Fund.  I am also attaching letters from several counties stating just how important the OHV grants program is to their area and economy.


Don Amador
Western Representative
BlueRibbon Coalition, Inc.
555 Honey Lane
Oakley, CA 94561
Phone: 925.625.6287

Amador recounted the history of OHV being used as a “political football” by Park leadership over the last 20 years and how that practice needs to stop.  He also requested that the 10M legislative cap on the OHV grants program be lifted and restored to its historic 26M level now that the Parks Foundation and PEER’s State Parks Initiative cap limit was not needed (it never was anything but a political hit).  I think we made enough comments to keep the issue in play as the hearings and debates continue

The next few weeks will be very busy with OHV meetings related to the current budget crisis and developing strategies to stop OHV from being tossed back and forth on the political field of play. 

Thanks to all of you who sent in letters to the legislature.  It helped a lot!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Stonyford August 5 Update - Send in Volunteer Forms

The Recreation HQ does not want riders to think it is still not focused on the Mill Fire’s impacts to the Stonyford OHV Area.   As most of you know, this fire’s impacts are almost 180 degrees opposite of the 2001 Trough Fire.

The Trough Fire did not impact that much of the trail system, but it did nuke the various OHV camping and staging areas at Fouts Springs.  On the other hand, the Mill Fire spared the Fouts Springs campgrounds but fried about 80% of the popular trails between Fouts to Lett’s Lake and back down to Little Stony.

Link to Closure Order and Closure Map

I think a lot of us are still in a state of shock as are many of the FS employees that I know.  While they continue to mop up and restore the area, it is important for those of us who can… to send in a volunteer agreement to Paige to help with future volunteer projects.

Here is an announcement from Paige

Thank you for eagerly extending a helping hand for the process of cleaning up the devastation of the Mill Fire.

We are currently awaiting the full report from the BAER (Burned Area Emergency Response) Team.

As soon as we get permission to enter the area and start closure & rehabilitation work, I will email you with some dates.

The first project in order will be to secure the perimeters of the fire.  Access to the trail system will need to be closed with signs and straw bales along the intersections of M-10, 17N02 & Goat Mountain.  Theses main roads hopefully will be opening soon.  Not until the fire is called out, which most likely will be after we get rain, will we be able to start trail rehabbing.

I have attached a volunteer agreement which will need to be completed prior to any volunteer work that you do for the Forest Service.

Thanks again and I will be in touch soon!


Paige Makowski
Mendocino National Forest
Grindstone Ranger District
O.H.V Recreation Technician
(530) 963-1328

Complete the OF301a Volunteer Agreement Form linked below and send to:

Here is the link to the volunteer form
Paige Makowski
Mendocino National Forest
825 N. Humboldt Ave.
Willows, CA 95988

If you would like to sponsor or support QWR’s post-fire recovery work (e.g. travel, supplies, seed money for matching grants, etc.) you can donate at and ID donation for "Mill Fire Recovery"

HQ is already planning to dedicate some serious time up there once the volunteer trail rehabilitation starts.  Will keep you posted as new details come in.


Friday, August 3, 2012

HQ Salutes Cong. Sam Farr's Bill to Reopen Clear Creek

The Recreation HQ is extremely pleased to be talking about Congressman Sam Farr’s introduction of the Clear Creek National Recreation Area and Conservation Act of 2012 – H.R. 6286.
BRC News Release on H.R. 6286 - QWR also has an Email Blast below with link to June 2011 video testimony asking Congress to consider a NRA desigation for Clear Creek

This has been a long and bitter battle for the last 4 years and 3 months.  It is my hope that this bill will reopen Clear Creek to responsible OHV recreation and also help reestablish normal and productive relations between the BLM and the user community (e.g. riders, local businesses, county supervisors).

I also want to personal thank those of you in the OHV community who have been supportive of my efforts to address the closure via the legislative process instead of the courts.  Please take time during August to stop by Congressman Farr’s office and thank him for his leadership via H.R. 6286. You can also send him a note as well.

Cong. Farr’s Contact Info
Salinas Office • 100 W. Alisal Street • Salinas, CA 93901 • Phone: (831) 424-2229 • Toll Free: 800-340-FARR • Fax: (831) 424-7099 •

 Santa Cruz Office • 701 Ocean Street, Room 318C • Santa Cruz, CA 95060 • Phone: (831) 429-1976 • Fax: (831) 429-1458 •

We have more work to do in pushing this through the House and Senate and then to the President.  Knowing many of the Creek fans like I do, I have no doubts that we can accomplish that task.