February 2022

Temporary Restraining Order Halts 130 Acres of Dust Control Measures

On February 17, dust control measures were placed on hold at the Oceano Dunes after the San Luis Obispo Superior Court temporarily prohibited them. The court ordered in favor of the Friends of Oceano Dunes’ legal efforts with a temporary restraining order on Oceano Dunes SVRA closures and informed the California Department of Parks and Recreation that it has no authority to proceed with further limiting access as had been planned.

Friends of Oceano Dunes argued the California Coastal Commission and State Parks and Recreation Department did not receive the required approval from the county to move forward with the project and, as a result, is keeping more than 130 acres of dust control measures from being installed at the State Park. The Court set a hearing date of March 30, 2022 and ordered the Commission and Parks to “show cause” why a preliminary injunction should not be issued banning the new dust control while the case is being litigated.

At a recent Commission meeting, commissioners called for a review of the research presented by the Scientific Advisory Group (SAG) in preparation for the San Luis Obispo County Air Pollution Control District (APCD) meeting scheduled for March 23, 2022. Although the SAG and APCD support reducing access, the commission stated that based upon recent findings from Scripps and other studies, the science behind the stipulated order of abatement (SOA) is in question and needs to be revisited. Some of the commissioners expressed the desire to withdraw from the SOA.

In December 2021, the California Coastal Commission, without deliberation, voted to shut down more than 100 acres of riding and driving area. Commissioner Salazar will represent the OHMVR Commission and present a letter the commission is drafting for the upcoming APCD Board hearing.

“The decision by the San Luis Obispo County Superior Court Judge is another decisive win for the Friends of Oceano Dunes,” said Fred Wiley, President/CEO, Off-Road Business Association. “Rejecting a motion to dismiss by the California Coastal Commission (CCC) shows why the legal system plays a key role in controlling the actions of the CCC. There has to be a place to seek a fair review and state your case when the facts fall on deaf ears. The Friends of Oceano does a great job defending all forms of public use at Ocean Dunes State Vehicle Recreation Area (ODSVRA). Were it not for their persistent efforts, the ODSVRA would have been lost a long time ago.”

In early 2021, ARRA was one of 17 organizations representing businesses, associations, and enthusiast groups in opposing banning OHV activity and severely curtailing 4X4 access and camping at ODSVRA. ARRA and other members of the outdoor recreation community continue to actively participate in OHMVR Commission meetings by providing written comments and public comment periods.

Biden Administration Unveils $5 Billion National EV Charging Network

The U.S. Departments of Transportation and Energy recently announced that $5 billion would be made available to states under the new National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (NEVI) Formula Program. The program was established by President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to build out a national electric vehicle charging network.

The program will provide nearly $5 billion over five years to help states create a network of EV charging stations along designated Alternative Fuel Corridors, particularly the Interstate Highway System. The total amount available to states in FY22 under the NEVI Formula Program is $615 million. States must submit an EV Infrastructure Deployment Plan before accessing these funds. A second, competitive grant program designed to increase other EV charging access in locations throughout the country, including rural and underserved communities, will be announced later this year.

The outdoor recreation community has been advocating members of Congress for the inclusion of EV charging stations as part of the national electric vehicle charging network to support the outdoor recreation economy in communities across the country. However, these funds are primarily for on-road use. Off-road charging is caught up in political infighting within the Build Back Better legislation, which is on pause due to significant partisan pushback. ARRA members are encouraged to reach out to their legislators and stress that EV charging stations should be available along trails, trailheads, and parks.

Recent BLM Activity

  • Palm Springs, California – The BLM hosted several virtual public and stakeholder meetings to gather input on the development of off-highway vehicle grant proposals for submission to the California State Parks Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Division. Grant applications are currently being prepared by BLM staff for the 2022 grant cycle. Scoping meetings took place throughout February and preliminary applications must be submitted to the Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Division no later than March 7, 2022 and are available online.