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!

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