January 2021

(Courtesy of Don Amador)

OHV Access in Jeopardy at Oceano Dunes

In Dec. 2020, California State Parks (PARKS) released the Draft Public Works Plan (PWP) and Draft Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for Pismo State Beach and Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area (SVRA). If implemented as drafted, the proposed PWP would create significant adverse economic impact and would negatively affect off-road powersports. Within the PWP, there are many concerning proposals, the most significant of which are:

  • Proposes an immediate 42 percent reduction of OHV day-use limits, from the current 1,720 vehicles/day, down to 1,000/day (p. 78 of the PWP).
  • Proposes ending OHV/ATV rental concessions when their current contracts expire in 2022. Phasing out of OHV rental concessions would require visitors to bring in their own OHVs (p. 79 of the PWP).
  • Proposes an Environmental Impact Review (EIR) alternative to consider phase out of OHV recreation over 5 years (see Volume 3, Chapter 2, Alternatives).
  • Proposes possible purchase of the Phillips 66 refinery property and construction of new camping, OHV staging ,and day-use facilities, near the South Entrance which is close to a residential area whose residents have voiced strong objections to any OHV use (p. 53 of the PWP).
  • Proposes to conduct an “independently peer-reviewed carrying capacity study” to determine appropriate limits for beach camping and day-use by OHVs and street-legal vehicles and update use limits accordingly, which could further limit access/use by OHV in the SVRA (p. 76 of the PWP).

It is important that OHV enthusiasts express opposition to the draft PWP.  The three entities who need to hear from us are:

California State Parks – Public comments can be submitted by email at OceanoDunes.PWP.EIR@parks.ca.gov or by mail to California State Parks, Strategic Planning and Recreation Services Division, 1725 23rd Street, Suite 200, Sacramento, CA 95816.  Comments are due on Mar. 2, 2021.

California Coastal Commission – next meeting is March 18, and you can submit Public Comments by mail at: 725 Front Street, Suite 200, Santa Cruz, CA 95060, Attn: Oceano Dunes

California OHMVR Commission – their next meeting regular Commission meeting will be on Feb. 26th, but we are told they may also do a special Oceano Dunes hearing on February 18th.  You may submit comments via email at OHVInfo.OHV@parks.ca.gov or by mail at: Patricia Urena, Chair, OHMVR Commission, 1725 23rd Street, Sacramento, CA 95816.

ARRA will be submitting comments to each of these expressing our concern with the draft PWP and members are encouraged to also submit comments.  Future OHV access at Oceano Dunes is at stake!

Nomination Hearing Held for Pete Buttigieg as Secretary of Transportation

On Jan. 21, the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation held a hearing to consider the presidential nomination of Pete Buttigieg to be Secretary of the United States Department of Transportation. Before the hearing, MIC and ARRA members submitted questions to Sen. Klobuchar (D-MN) regarding specific RTP funded trails in Indiana and Michigan.

Pete Buttigieg was asked about infrastructure investments, the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the transportation sector, Highway Trust Fund revenue sources, the Keystone XL oil pipeline, and most importantly, the support for the Recreational Trails Program (RTP). Sen. Klobuchar, a primary RTP bill sponsor, emphasized the need for RTP funding, which benefits ATV’s, snowmobiles, and non-motorized vehicles. Pete Buttigieg stated he supports funding efforts so that all modes of transportation can coexist. ARRA would like to thank the MIC and ARRA members for actively submitting questions to Sen. Klobuchar’s office for the hearing. The Senate is expected to vote on his confirmation in early February.

Minnesota DNR Seeks Public Comment on Establishing Office of Outdoor Recreation

In Dec. 2019, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and Explore Minnesota partnered and launched a new Outdoor Recreation Task Force (ORTF). The Task Force was directed to select 20 members from the outdoor recreation community to represent a diverse and balanced mix of outdoor interests, expertise, and values to explore areas that focus on growth, increased and equitable access, and providing a higher level of quality of outdoor recreation opportunities that support the $15.B tourism economy in Minnesota.

Throughout 2020, the ORTF met and created recommendations that enhance the state’s outdoor offerings. As a result, the Task Force drafted a set of recommendations for the Minnesota DNR. In addition to the recommendation of creating and funding an Office of Outdoor Recreation, the Task Force recommends other government agencies, non-profit organizations, user-groups, and industries also advance these recommendations in concert with an Office of Outdoor Recreation.

“The task force has worked hard over the last several months to develop recommendations to advance outdoor recreation work in Minnesota,” said Randolph Briley, special assistant to the DNR Commissioner. “The DNR, Explore Minnesota, and the ORTF look forward to hearing how these recommendations resonate with the public so that the ORTF’s final recommendations can best meet the needs of Minnesotans.”

Public comments on the draft ORTF recommendations can be submitted on the DNR’s community engagement website. Comments are due by Feb. 15.

Michigan ATV/Snowmobile Trail to Receive Funding from LWCF  

The passage of the Great American Outdoors Act guarantees $900 million in mandatory annual funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund, the most important tool for funding outdoor recreation in the United States. The Outdoor Recreation Roundtable (ORR) identified eleven outstanding projects from across the country. One of the projects chosen is for Houghton County, Michigan, to rebuild ATV/snowmobile trail from Dollar Bay to Lake Linden. The project cost is between $250K-$500K and will repair and replace culverts and rebuild the trail where washouts occurred on Lake Linden Trail between Hubbell and Lake Linden. The Lake Linden trail is a multi-use recreational trail severely damaged in 2018 due to a 500-year storm and served as an essential link for recreation and alternative transportation between communities in the Keweenaw Peninsula. The project has been approved by the state and submitted to National Park Service for funding. Houghton County is waiting to hear back from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources to determine if any additional requirements need to be met.

Minnesota Introduces ATV Appropriation Legislation

The Minnesota House of Representatives introduced HF 45, appropriating money for all-terrain vehicle trails and extending the availability of specific appropriations for all-terrain vehicle trail construction. The bill was introduced on Jan. 11 and referred to the Committee on Environment and Natural Resources Finance and Policy. The legislation provides an appropriation to the Voyageur Country ATV trail of $450,000 in the fiscal year 2022 and $500,000 in the fiscal year 2023 from the all-terrain vehicle account in the natural resources fund. Additionally, the Prospector Loop Trail would also receive $455,000 in the fiscal year 2022 and $500,000 in 2023. The funding for both trails is a one-time appropriation and is available until June 30, 2025.

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