Please preserve the OHV fund.
Thank you for taking the time to review my concerns about the California State Parks Transformation process and my desire to protect the current state of the Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Division of California State Parks.
These concerns are based on the State Parks Transformation Team’s recommendation to consolidate the OHMVR Program into non-OHV Park Operations. It is counter to the findings of the Parks Forward Commission and had little or no input form OHV experts and recreationist. I also believe the Transformation Team has a complete lack of understanding about the history and scope of the OHMVR Program. A staff filled with career DPR employees, anti-OHV advocates and consultants with no OHMVR Division experience led the Transformation Team down a path to a poor decision and potential disaster for the OHMVR Division and OHV recreationist in California.
Under this plan, and based on previous actions by Department of Parks and Recreation staff, I feel the potential to misuse and redirect OHV dedicated funds to the beleaguered DPR budget is high and could decimate the OHMVR Program. Also, the Grants and Cooperative Agreements Program would lose critical oversight by highly trained OHMVR specialists. Environmental and Law Enforcement programs on Federal Lands in many of California’s most pristine landscapes may be imperiled, which could have a significant impact on water quality and wildlife habitat. The Education and Interpretation Program could be scaled back limiting OHV training, youth safety instruction and critical outreach efforts. The scenario above is realistic, disturbing and the exact opposite of the intent of the Transformation process.
The existing structure of the Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Program was founded in 1971 by a cooperative effort between OHV recreationist and conservationist to manage OHV use in California as a user funded separate operating division of the California Department of Parks and Recreation.
The OHMVR Program is a separate division for a number of reasons. First, OHV recreation is not confined to California State Parks. In fact the vast majority of OHV recreation is on Federal Lands. There are only nine State Park units (SVRAs) and they were added after the programs creation. Due to the cooperative nature of OHV management the original statute created a dedicated funding source to facilitate management on non-state properties. The statute directs taxes and fees collected from OHV use to areas where OHV use occurs and is not intended for any other purposes and is subject to California state laws.
The unique and innovative OHMVR Grants and Cooperative Agreements Program provides for managed off-highway vehicle recreation in California by providing financial assistance to cities, counties, districts, federal agencies, state agencies, educational institutions, federally recognized Native American Tribes, and nonprofit entities.
These grant funds are used for multiagency planning, acquisition, development, maintenance, administration, operation, enforcement, restoration, and conservation of trails, trailheads, areas, and other facilities associated with the use of OHVs, and programs involving OHV safety or education. The Grants Program requires oversight by specialized OHV grant analysts to assist applicants, provide a forum for public input and audit each grant during the its lifecycle to ensure proper use of grant funds to satisfy strict statute requirements. One of the huge benefits of the existing structure is the economic benefit to rural and improvised communities throughout California. With an estimated fifteen billion dollar annual economic impact, OHV recreation is one of the main and few economic drivers for these neglected communities.
The OHMVR Program has undergone many reviews and audits since its creation. This has fine-tuned the Program to become the largest and most successful program of its type and is recognized worldwide as the template for responsible motorized recreation.
In closing, I urge you to reconsider the Transformation Team’s recommendation and support the Parks Forward Commission’s decision. Please don’t sacrifice the self-funded shining star of the California Department of Parks and Recreation in the name of Transformation.
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