Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Transformation Team Update - Document Needs a "Recreation" Goal

This Sign Directed OHV Stakeholders to 
the Transformation Team Public Meeting in Ontario on Aug. 11, 2016

Introduction: I wanted to share my letter/thoughts with OHV stakeholders on the August 2016 Transformation Team Progress Report.  I think it takes steps in the right direction.  However, it needs to more fully incorporate "Recreation" into the soul of the document.  I have included the letter I sent to the Transformation Team today. I  think this report shows a “preservation culture” still exists at DPR.


August 17, 2016

Dear Lisa and the Transformation Team,

I again want to thank you for your ongoing efforts (which are greatly appreciated) to engage with OHV stakeholders to better understand the OHV Program.

I just read through the August 2016 Transformation Team Progress Report and commend the Team for including pictures of various active forms of recreation on the cover page and noting said activities on page 6 in the Fast Facts section.

While I support, in general, all of the four Transformation Team Strategic Goals, I am concerned about the preservationist nature of Strategic Goal 1 that leaves out any mention of providing environmentally sound or sustainable recreational opportunities.

                Strategic Goal 1: Protect and Enhance Natural and Cultural Resources

The California Department of Parks and Recreation’s (Department) mission includes the protection and preservation of California’s most significant cultural and natural resources. By engaging and collaborating with other leaders in this field, the Department will identify and advance pilot projects demonstrating best practices and develop programs and systems that support first in class
preservation and conservation of natural and cultural resources. The Department will propel a renewed investment in the stewardship of the globally-significant resources of the state park system. Decisions will be informed and guided by the need to protect natural and cultural resources.

I would urge the Team to consider weaving “recreation” more substantively into the soul of the document including its strategic goals.  In fact, the Team might consider adding an additional goal (Goal 5) that reads something like this:

                Strategic Goal 5: Continue to Provide World Class Sustainable Recreational Opportunities

The Department will continue to provide access to world-class passive and active forms of recreation that exist within the system.  The Department will use best management practices, the collaborative process, and partners to maintain and/or enhance a wide array of sustainable recreational opportunities for the benefit and enjoyment of all people. Off-highway motor vehicle recreation, boating activities, horseback riding, on and off-road cycling, hiking, camping, and rock climbing are some of the recreational activities enjoyed in 280 state parks organized into 22 field districts throughout the state.

Since the program was totally revised in 2008, the OHV Division has been a model of government transparency and efficiency.  It has been a model for other States to follow.  The Team needs to ensure this program keeps its identity so it can continue to offer the excellent services it has been providing.

As you know, the 9 State Vehicular Recreation Areas (SVRAs) provide high quality OHV recreational opportunities in most regions of the state and the Team should support continuation of that program.

Also, about 80% of OHV recreational opportunities are provided by our partners at the Forest Service and BLM.  The OHV Grants Program has been instrumental in providing for quality and effectively managed OHV recreation on federal lands throughout the state.  The Team should help ensure the OHV Grants Program stays viable.

Please feel free to contact me should you have any questions or want additional input into the process.

Best regards,


Don Amador
555 Honey Lane
Oakley, CA 94561
Cell: 925.783.1834

Former Chairman of the OHMVR Commission, Western Representative for the BlueRibbon Coalition, President of Quiet Warrior Racing/Consulting, Member – Society of Outdoor Recreation Professionals

 cc: OHV Stakeholders

Sunday, August 14, 2016

OPINION - Transformation of the CA State Park Transformation Process

State Park Director and CA OHMVR Commission Listen
to Public Input on the Transformation Team Process
August 11, 2016, Ontario Double Tree Hotel

By Don Amador
Date: 8/14/16
Words: 374

*Permission to reprint is hereby granted

Transformation of the Transformation Process

The terms “honest” and “genuine” have not been adjectives normally associated with leadership at the California State Parks Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR).  This is especially true when it comes to how DPR has treated the OHV community over the last 30 years.

It has been my experience that self-proclaimed experts (often with an anti-OHV bias) at DPR decided what was best for the OHV program and then crafted a public process that would support a preordained outcome.

A chief concern of mine with the Transformation Team (TT) over the last few months is that it was just another process where government appointees with little substantive knowledge of the OHV program were following the traditional decision-tree at DPR.

After attending the August 11, 2016, TT meeting with OHV stakeholders in Ontario, California, my concerns about the future of the OHV program have been somewhat allayed by the precedent setting substantive engagement efforts of State Park Director, Lisa Mangat, and her management team.

Most impressive has been their willingness to acknowledge and address the institutional bias at DPR against OHV and other forms of active recreation.   There is a reason why reference (photos, printed materials, etc.) to our nine State Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Areas (SVRAs) and riding opportunities on federal and non-state lands have been largely scrubbed or hidden from public view at the main agency website.

Over the last six weeks, I have seen a rather marked shift in the tone and direction of the TT’s narrative as it relates to potential recommendations for the OHV program.  Because of their engagement with OHV leadership, partners, and other stakeholders they are beginning to understand the complex size and scope of the program and how it has become woven into the economic fabric of California.

Director Mangat said that no TT policy recommendations have been written yet and that it is critically important for OHV stakeholders to remain engaged with the process.

At this juncture, I believe the at-large OHV community should give them the benefit-of-the-doubt and continue to readily embrace this genuine effort by the agency to craft a plan that secures the future of our world-class OHV program.

# # #

Don Amador writes on land-use and recreation issues from his office in Oakley, CA.  Don was Chairman of the CA OHMVR Commission in the 1990s.  Don is also a 2016 Inductee into the Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame.  He may be reached via email at:

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

OP ED - OHV Stakeholder Input Informs State Park Transformation Team - Aug. 11 So Cal Meeting in Ontario

By Don Amador
Date: July 27, 2016

I want to commend the CA State Parks/Transformation Team about its ongoing effort to solicit input from the OHV community and related-stakeholders.

The announcement today about an August 11, 2016 “Open House” meeting in Ontario, CA, is a good sign that agency leadership is making a genuine attempt to ensure the long-term viability of the CA Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Division (OHMVRD).

I believe those letters you have been sending in and meetings you have been attending have given the Transformation Team some food-for-thought about its initial proposal to move OHMVRD back into the Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR).

I believe the commitment (see link below with FAQs and meeting info) by State Parks that it will continue to separate special funds from other funds utilized by the department is a very positive development in that special funds from OHV would not be intermixed with non-special funds.


Based on my 26 years of experience with CA State Parks and the OHV program, I believe that move would devastate OHMVRD’s ability to manage its highly acclaimed system of State Vehicular Recreation Areas (SVRAs).  It would also impact the grant program that supports managed OHV recreation on Forest Service and BLM lands, restoration projects, law enforcement, and safety programs.

It is important to remember that the OHV program has a distinct mission that is often lost in DPR where there has been a corporate or institutional movement to end or severely restrict motorized recreation, MTBs, and horses on DPR lands.  

I want to encourage OHV enthusiasts and partners to continue their efforts to engage with the Transformation Team so as to educate them on the important role that OHMVRD has in providing environmentally-sound OHV recreation on county, state, and federal lands in California.

The OHV community should continue to remind the Transformation Team about the historic deep level of distrust that exists between users and the DPR.  Efforts should be made to restore that trust.  Also, organizational safety mechanisms should be put in place to protect the integrity of OHMVRD.

Users should argue against any changes that might negatively impact SVRA operations or grant funding to federal and county partners.

I don’t believe we are out-of-the-woods yet in regards to protecting the CA OHV program.  Please continue your efforts to make your voice heard as the transformation process continues over the next few months.

You are making a difference!

# # #

Don Amador writes on land-use and recreation issues from his office in Oakley, CA.  Don was Chairman of the CA OHMVR Commission in the 1990s.  He may be reached via email at:

Friday, July 8, 2016


It appears that hostile political forces in Sacramento are on the verge of functionally eliminating the CA Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Division (OHMVRD) which includes OHV-related grant funding to the Forest Service, BLM, counties, local sheriffs’ departments, non-profit trail and conservation groups, and other partners.

The State Parks Transformation Team is recommending that OHMVRD, which is a separate and highly specialized department, is moved back into the offices of the CA Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR).

In the early 1990s when OHMVRD was located at/in DPR, the OHV program languished in obscurity and irrelevancy while trying to operate under the oppressive bureaucratic thumb of apathetic and/or anti-OHV Resource Agency and DPR leadership.

Even worse, prior to 1982 the entire OHV program was divided up among numerous Parks Department Divisions and had no cohesive element. Employees would work on OHV for a few hours and then move to other unrelated projects. There was no opportunity to develop the expertise and understanding of OHV that has evolved since the legislature saw fit to create a separate Division to oversee the program and an Independent Commission to concentrate on making sure resources are allocated where they are needed to provide a safe and enjoyable OHV experience while protecting California's environment."

It is important to remember that the OHV program has a distinct mission that is often lost in DPR where there has been (and apparently continues today) a corporate or institutional movement to end or severely restrict motorized recreation, MTBs, and horses on DPR lands.   

Based on what I know today, I believe the Transformation Team’s proposal has nothing to do with improving government efficiency.   Rather, it is a crass political maneuver to eviscerate the OHV program and lay the groundwork for permanently sunsetting the program on January 1, 2018.

The good news in the dark aforementioned potential future of OHV is that there are millions of motorized recreationists who can speak up as a strong political force against the Transformation Team’s plan.  

Your loud voice was heard 20 years ago to save the CA OHV program and now government officials in Sacramento need to hear from you once again!

# # #

Don Amador writes on land-use and recreation issues from his office in Oakley, CA.  Don was Chairman of the CA OHMVR Commission in the 1990s.  He may be reached via email at: