April 2021

(Photo credit: Oceano Dune Riders)

MIC, SVIA, and ROHVA Respond to Recent California Coastal Commission Activities

Citing dust control, the California Coastal Commission (CCC) wants to eliminate 66 acres of off-highway vehicle (OHV) riding and camping space at the historic Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area. At an April 15 hearing, the commission voted to amend the site’s coastal development permit, targeting a total of 93 acres for permanent dust control mitigation through dune restoration, including 66 acres of existing OHV riding area.

According to a CCC staff report, the amendment addresses an alleged significant public health and air quality problem associated with the SVRA. The amendment adds to a series of projects to restore, stabilize, and protect dune surface, structure, and vegetation, supposedly to reduce particulate matter. The original project called for multiple dust control efforts as part of a five-year plan through numerous methods, including dune restoration.

Scott Schloegel, MIC Senior Vice President, Government Relations, spoke on behalf of OHV enthusiasts and the powersports industry. “We strongly oppose reducing or phasing out OHV activity at Oceano Dunes,” Schloegel said. “The recent UCSD Scripps Institute of Oceanography’s scientific study, which looked at air quality during the COVID shutdown when OHV activity was non-existent, concluded that, ‘the association of high PM10 and PM2.5 with high-wind conditions, even when recreational vehicles were not allowed at Oceano Dunes, indicates that dune-derived mineral dust is more likely to be caused by natural forces, i.e., wind, rather than human activities.’ Additional long-term data also supported this conclusion. There is no need to further restrict or phase out OHV activity”

MIC also submitted another letter to Armando Quintero, Director of California State Parks, after the public comment period on its Oceano Dunes draft public works plan was extended to April 19. Written on behalf of the MIC, SVIA, and ROHVA, the letter opposed the draft PWP, and emphasized that the department circumvented due PWP process during a special March meeting, violating state law. It also urged the parks department to reject the CCC’s illegitimate, unilateral attempt to phase out OHVs at ODSVRA.

ARRA Facilitates OHV Stakeholder Call on Oceano Dunes

In the wake of the California Coastal Commission’s decision at a March 18 meeting to end OHV activity at ODSVRA within three years, ARRA facilitated an OHV stakeholder call that provided an open dialogue to discuss possible next steps. The call had more than 20 participants that included ARRA members, OHV rider groups, and concessionaires.

The participants provided a historical perspective on Oceano Dunes and the politics within California State Parks, the CCC, and the governor’s office. Some of the participants expressed the issue needs to be elevated to the governor’s office, and industry needs to apply more pressure to keep Oceano Dunes open.

Some of the participants suggested engaging a public relations firm to assist the industry in regaining control of the message and developing bilingual messages for an audience that includes OHV stakeholders, the parks department, the CCC, and the governor’s office.

“The reality is, we are not reaching our target audience on the work that is being done to maintain the SVRA at Oceano,” one participant said.

Subsequently, the Friends of Oceano Dunes and EcoLogic Partners each filed lawsuits in mid-April against the CCC. The EcoLogic lawsuit argues that the CCC does not have substantive evidence to support the closure, has failed to conduct an environmental impact review required under the California Environmental Quality Act, and has failed to consider alternatives. Other parties in the lawsuit against the CCC include the Off-Road Business Association, the Specialty Equipment Market Association, the American Sand Association, and American Motorcyclist Association District 37.

BLM Partners with NOHVCC and Tread Lightly to Develop Interactive Website

The Bureau of Land Management partnered with the National Off-Highway Vehicle Conservation Council to develop an interactive map highlighting some of the BLM’s highest quality motorized recreation opportunities across the nation. The website was designed to provide and promote a greater awareness of recreational opportunities on BLM-managed public lands.

The site contains a guided tour that provides detailed maps of the top BLM motorized recreational opportunities and interactive geospatial data maps. Outdoor recreation enthusiasts can plan their next outdoor adventure by using interactive, web-based story maps and become familiar with important information about OHV recreation sites, such as on-site amenities, season dates of operations, camping availability, and more.

NOHVCC is requesting that you send pictures taken (photographers will be credited) at any of the areas listed on the site to trailhead@nohvcc.org, and they will forward them to the BLM and potentially be included on the site.

Click here to access the website.

Recent BLM Activity

  • Grand Junction, Colorado – The Bureau of Land Management announced five Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) projects in four western states that would receive recreational access funding from the program. Congress appropriated $13 million in recreational access funds in the fiscal year 2020, and the BLM has allocated funds to these five projects: 1) Table Rocks Special Recreation Management Area – Oregon; 2) Organ Mountains-Desert Peak National Monument – New Mexico; 3) Mojave Trails National Monument – California; 4) John Day National Wild and Scenic River – Oregon; and 5) North Platte River Special Recreation Management Area – Wyoming. “Conservation of these special areas is part of advancing the Biden administration’s goal to conserve 30 percent of the nation’s lands and waters by 2030.”
  • Kremmling, Colorado – The Bureau of Land Management announced the April 15 opening of the Wolford Mountain Special Recreation Management Area. There are approximately 120 miles of designated roads and motorized trails in the Wolford Mountain SRMA. Motorized use is restricted to designated routes, with some routes open only to specific types of vehicles. Signs indicate allowable uses and fenced areas are closed to motorized use. Colorado Off-Highway Vehicle registration is required on all non-licensed vehicles. Out-of-state OHV registrations and license plates are not valid in Colorado. The North Sand Hills Special Recreation Management Area also opened on April 15. North Sand Hills is Colorado’s only open sand dune area for OHV recreation. The dunes are open to OHV riding, but vegetated and fenced areas are closed to motorized use.
  • Susanville, California – Repair work is underway at the Fort Sage Off-Highway Vehicle Recreation Area and visitors in Southern Lassen County can expect to encounter heavy vehicles and construction equipment as crews replace signs and repair other damage caused by a wildfire last fall.