March 2023

(Photo credit: Oceano Dune Riders)


Another Victory for Friends of Oceano Dunes

In early March, Friends of Oceano Dunes won another legal battle against the California Coastal Commission to keep OHV access open at the Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area. The San Luis Obispo County Superior Court rejected a motion by the State of California, the California Department of General Services, and the California Coastal Commission to throw out a lawsuit by Friends of Oceano Dunes (without a trial). The Friends of Oceano Dunes lawsuit was filed in May 2021 to establish permanent off-highway vehicle (OHV) recreational rights and camping at the Oceano Dunes SVRA.

In March 2021, the California Coastal Commission sought to change the permit for the Oceano Dunes location to require closure of the SVRA by 2024 and a number of other interim restrictions on OHV recreation and camping.

Friends’ May 2021 lawsuit sought to “quiet title” against the State by establishing an “implied dedication” in favor of the public for OHV recreation, camping, and beach driving. San Luis Obispo Superior Court Judge Tana Coates rejected the State’s arguments and set the case for trial in October 2023.


OHV Enthusiasts in California Turnout to Support SB 708

On March 28, the California Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Water held a hearing on CA SB 708, introduced by Senator Brian Jones. The legislation creates a new online sanctioned event permit program for OHVs model years 2022 and newer intended for competition-use only. Since California’s Red Sticker program expired in 2021, competition-only OHVs have yet to be able to obtain a vehicle identification decal to operate on public lands for competitions.

Don Amador, ARRA partner and AMA District 36 Government Affairs Director, testified at the hearing, along with other OHV enthusiasts.

This new permit program is needed because CARB ended the Red Sticker Program in 2021 with no subsequent identification process in place for the newer models. The lack of a vehicle identification decal has caused confusion with numerous state and federal land management agencies when trying to identify those vehicles at sanctioned competition events held on public lands.

SB 708 also restores fee monies collected that were lost when the Red Sticker program ended in 2021. Those funds will help riders pay for event-related costs such as trail maintenance, conservation, and law enforcement.

This new permit option would mirror current permits offered by CA State Parks including the OHV Non-Resident and Snowpark permits. It would make the purchase of OHV Non-Resident Permits unnecessary for CA residents trying to find a replacement for the obsolete Red Sticker decal.

SB 708 passed out of the Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee with a 10-0 vote and now heads to the Senate Transportation Committee.

Thank you to the ARRA members who responded to the call-to-action for this effort.


Outdoor Recreation Bill Introduced in the Senate

On March 18, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) introduced S. 873, America’s Outdoor Recreation Act (AORA), with strong bipartisan support. This legislation will make it easier for Americans to access the outdoors and provide agencies with new tools to address long-standing outdoor recreation needs.

It will also grow rural jobs, increase access to public lands, and ensure all Americans can enjoy the many physical and mental health benefits of an active outdoor lifestyle.

“Outdoor recreation is vitally important to boosting the health of all people, and access to public lands and trails is crucial for the millions of ATV, dirt bike, and side-by-side riders and drivers, said Erik Pritchard, President and CEO of the Motorcycle Industry Council, Recreational Off-Highway Vehicle Association, and Specialty Vehicle Institute of America. “The $50 billion powersports industry applauds Congress for reintroducing America’s Outdoor Recreation Act, which would help create additional opportunities for motorized access to federal recreational lands, improve recreation infrastructure, support local communities, and bolster the nation’s economy. We thank Senators Manchin and Barrasso for championing this legislation and urge swift bipartisan action to pass this act.”

There are two specific sections in the bill that are of interest to ARRA members. Section 135 and Section 203 as they address motorized and nonmotorized access:

  • Section 135—The Secretaries shall seek to create additional opportunities, as appropriate, for motorized and nonmotorized access and opportunities on Federal recreational lands and waters administered by the Chief of the Forest Service or the Director of the Bureau of Land Management.
  • Section 203—With regard to Special recreation permits—at the discretion of the Secretary, a single organized group recreation activity or event (including an activity or event in which motorized recreational vehicles are used or in which outfitting and guiding services are used) that—is a structured or scheduled event or activity, not competitive and is for fewer than 75 participants, may charge an entry or participation fee, and involves fewer than 200 visitor-use days.

Additionally, AORA aims to:

  • Enable permit streamlining to ease burdens on outfitters and guides and improve access to outdoor experiences.
  • Improve access to recreation on public lands and waters, update outdoor recreation infrastructure.
  • Develop, improve, and complete long-range trails.
  • Invest in rural economic development.

Senator Manchin wants to move the bill out of the Senate, Energy and Natural Resources Committee sometime in May.


Recent Bureau of Land Management Activity

  • Las Vegas, NV—The BLM Las Vegas Field Office announced the temporary closure of certain public lands under its administration from March 10- 11. This action was taken to minimize the risk of potential collisions with spectators and racers running the 2023 Mint 400. The area was closed to all vehicles and personnel except law enforcement, emergency vehicles, ticketed spectators, event personnel, and race participants.
  • Gunnison, CO —The BLM Gunnison Field Office closed its West Spencer Avenue offices permanently on March 9 and reopened to the public at their new location at 2500 East New York Avenue on March 16, with regular business hours from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
  • Hines, OR—After decades of maintaining the same price, the BLM will increase overnight camping fees at six campgrounds in eastern Oregon. The new rate for the Page Springs, Fish Lake, Jackman Park, South Steens Family, South Steens Equestrian, and Chickahominy Reservoir campgrounds will be $16 per night for the first vehicle and $5 per night for each additional vehicle. This change goes into effect on April 1.


Recent U.S. Forest Service Activity

  • The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will invest more than $48.6 million this year through the Joint Chiefs’ Landscape Restoration Partnership for projects that mitigate wildfire risk, improve water quality, restore forest ecosystems, and ultimately contribute to USDA’s efforts to combat climate change. This year, the USDA Forest Service and Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) will invest in projects, including 14 new projects, bringing together agricultural producers, forest landowners, and National Forest System lands to improve forest health using available Farm Bill conservation programs and other authorities.