Group of OHV riders, Oceano Dunes SVRA, California. Photo by Brian Baer, California State Parks
OHV Riding at Oceano Dunes State Park Threatened!
A staff report for the California Coastal Commission has recommended that OHV riding at the Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area (ODSVRA) be curtailed and possibly eliminated altogether. ODSVRA is comprised of about 1,500 dune acres. OHV riding is permitted in a little over 2 square miles and along roughly 3.5 miles of beach. This is the only OHV park along the State’s coastal zone. Along with the OHV recreation experience, RV camping is a very popular activity at this State Park.
California OHV enthusiasts and the South County Chambers of Commerce (San Luis Obispo County) are springing into action to oppose any effort to stop OHV riding at this state park. The Coastal Commission will be holding a hearing on July 11th to receive comments/input on the staff report.
California Department of Parks and Recreation Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Division is the agency that manages this OHV park facility. It is unclear, at this time, if the agency will take steps to implement the recommendations of the Commission staff. The threat, however, is real and the possible closure of this premier coastal OHV riding area would be a major setback for OHV recreation and the local economy. This could well become a lengthy and costly battle to keep this area open to OHV recreation. We will share more details with you as information becomes available.
U.S. Forest Service NEPA Reform
One of the frustrations in dealing with the Forest Service, whether it is getting a recreational permit, a permit for repairing trails or even cutting down diseased trees, is the fact that the agency must follow procedures under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The procedures are such that timeliness is not a factor.
The Forest Service has announced its intentions to update and modernize its regulations under NEPA. 2008 was the last time revisions were made. Among the revisions proposed is the intention to increase the use of categorical exclusions (CEs) to allow the timely issuance of federal permits for projects that are determined to have little or no significant environmental impact (i.e. the clearing of dead or dying trees on trails, etc.).
To learn more about the proposed changes to NEPA, the Forest Service has one more webinar scheduled for July 12th, 3:30 – 5:00 p.m. EDT.
Audio link: 1-877-369-5243 or 1-617-688-3633
Access code: 0849770#
Adobe Connect (URL): https://usfs.adobeconnect.com/neparule-1000/
And, if you want even more information are the proposed changes to NEPA, please go to this link: https://www.fs.fed.us/emc/nepa/revisions/index.shtml
OHV rider, Bocco Mountain, Colorado. Photo by Bob Wick, BLM
Support Recreational Trails Program
The Coalition for Recreational Trails (ARRA is a member) held a reception on Capitol Hill on June 11th to recognize twelve outstanding trail projects from throughout the country that were funded in part by the Recreational Trails Program (RTP). A diverse set of projects were recognized, both motorized and non-motorized, and the underlying message that all the recipients shared was that their project would have never happened without the financial support of the Recreational Trails Program.
A couple of weeks ago, ARRA launched a grassroots campaign to encourage support for S. 1527, the RTP Funding Transparency Act. If you haven’t already contacted your Senators asking for their support for this legislation, please go to this link to learn more about the legislation and to send an important message to your Senators.
Legislative Update on H.R. 1225 and H.R. 3195
The House Natural Resources Committee has reported legislation to the House floor that would address the mounting maintenance backlog for the federal lands agencies, H.R.1225, as well as make permanent funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), H.R.3195. We have always felt that the Congress needed to address the maintenance backlog issue first before even considering the possibility of creating a mechanism to permanently fund LWCF. Instead, the committee obviously decided to deal with these issues simultaneously. We are very pleased that H.R. 1225 is gaining traction and we will soon send an alert to ARRA members so they can contact their elected Representative to urge support for this bill. You will be receiving this alert shortly after the Fourth of July holiday.
Good News to Share
We recently read a press release about the California State Parks’ Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Division and the National Youth Project Using Minibikes coming together in a “partnership to provide mentoring and education for urban youth through off-highway motorcycle recreation.” What a wonderful idea! Getting our urban youth outdoors and providing them with the opportunity to ride off-highway motorcycles in a safe and responsible manner doesn’t get any better. Future leaders for motorized recreation could well emerge from this program.
Congratulations to all who are making this program possible. We understand this effort is a first with the hope that it will spread to other state and federal land agencies in the years to come. This is a dream that deserves our support. For more information please go to this link: www.parks.ca.gov/NYPUM.
We are almost to the halfway point of the summer season. As you spend time with your families on your annual vacation or on a weekend of OHV riding, please remember to share with us some of your favorite photographs of those times. As you know, we like to use some of your photographs for this newsletter. But please remember that if you send us a photo of someone operating an off-highway vehicle, proper safety gear is needed. We can only use photos showing appropriate safety gear. After all, we need to set the right example.
Finally, when celebrating our nation’s birthday, whether it is off-roading, camping, hiking or just enjoying a picnic, do so responsibly for the sake of yourself and your family. Happy 4th.
Larry E. Smith
Americans for Responsible Recreational Access