May 2024

(Photo credit: Don Amador)


Special Permit Program Legislation: A Promising Development in California

Legislation establishing a special permit within the Department of Parks and Recreation so California residents may operate certain off-road motorcycles (OFMC) at sanctioned events is gaining traction in the California Assembly. Senate Bill (SB) 708 by Sen. Brian Jones has been set for June 11in the Assembly Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee. Effective with the 2022 model year, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) no longer certifies emission non-compliant OFMC because of the termination of the state’s “Red Sticker” program in 2021. Without a legislative fix, the loss of competition riding by OFMC would deal a significant blow to California’s powersports community and industry, which had a retail marketplace valued at $4.4 billion in 2023.

“SB 708 will help address the chaos and confusion created when CARB ended the Red Sticker Program in 2021 with no subsequent identification process in place for the 2022 and newer model year Competition motorcycles,” said Don Amador, Western States representative, MIC. “It will make it easier for state and federal land management agencies to identify those vehicles at sanctioned competition events held on public lands. Additionally, the bill will also restore monies once collected by Red Sticker fees that were lost when that program ended in 2021 to help pay for event-related costs such as trail maintenance, conservation, and law enforcement.”

In 2022, related legislation (SB 894), which would have established a new registration program for competition vehicles in the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), passed the legislature nearly unanimously. While acknowledging the economic benefits OHV competitions bring to the state, Gov. Gavin Newsom ultimately vetoed the bill over fiscal impact concerns within the DMV. The revised bill SB 708 is crafted to minimize fiscal impact and passed the Senate 39-0 on consent on May 11, 2023.

ARRA issued a call to action to members in California requesting they submit letters of support for CA SB 708.


North Dakota Establishes Office of Outdoor Recreation

On May 9, North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum took a significant step towards promoting outdoor activities by announcing the establishment of a new Office of Outdoor Recreation. The announcement was made at a special event in Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park, making North Dakota the 22nd state to have such an office. The impact of outdoor recreation on North Dakota’s economy is substantial, generating $ 1.3 billion, contributing 1.8 percent to its GDP, and creating 13,615 jobs, as per the latest data from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.

“This new office will allow us to better coordinate with stakeholders and state agencies as they develop plans, strategies, and initiatives to maximize the impact of outdoor recreation in North Dakota,” Burgum said. “We are incredibly excited to connect even more deeply with our partners in the private sector who drive economic development and job creation in our state. From the sales and service of boats, RVs and ATVs to hunting and fishing gear, bicycles and skis, outdoor recreation is a cornerstone of our state’s economic well-being.”

“North Dakota has some of the most beautiful riding areas in the U.S. and the powersports industry applauds Governor Burgum for creating the state’s new Office of Outdoor Recreation,” said Scott Schloegel, acting president & CEO of the MIC, the Recreational Off-Highway Vehicle Association, and the Specialty Vehicle Institute of America. “Dirt bike, ATV and side-by-side enthusiasts from across the country come to North Dakota to enjoy the trails and nature, and they help boost the local economies in the state. The new office will create more opportunities for more people to benefit from the great outdoors.”

The new Office of Outdoor Recreation will promote economic growth, workforce recruitment and retention, enhanced quality of life, and preservation of the state’s unique outdoor heritage. The combined efforts will unlock doors for critical investment, propelling further growth and innovation within the state’s outdoor recreation industry.


$30M Bond Initiative to Appear on November Ballot in Maine

Gov. Janet Mills recently signed a bill into law that will place a $30 million bond on the November ballot to repair and enhance trails across Maine. If Maine voters approve the ballot question, the measure (LD 1156) would make $30 million in grants available to help Maine nonprofits, municipalities, and qualified entities within state government to improve non-motorized, motorized, and multi-use trails.

“Maine’s trail systems are a key part of our outdoor recreation economy. If approved by voters, this bond will help repair damage caused by erosion, severe storms, and climate change,” said Mills. “I am proud to sign this legislation and hope that Maine people will approve this important investment this fall.”

“Snowmobile trails mirror our highway system with aging — in addition to the storm damage that trails have experienced in many states,” said Christine Jourdain, executive director of the American Council of Snowmobile Associations.  “It’s encouraging to see the Maine lawmakers and trails enthusiasts come together with the Maine Trails Bond as a possible solution.”

If Maine voters approve, funding would likely begin in mid-2025, and grant recipients would be required to produce 20 percent in matching funds.


Legacy Restoration Fund Projects

As part of an ongoing series, we feature the 37 motorized and non-motorized infrastructure projects totaling $20 million funded through FY23 in the ARRA newsletters. Click here to access projects funded in your state. Below are the projects featured this month:

Caribou-Targhee Forest Trails Maintenance ($450,000)

Caribou-Targhee National Forest, Idaho, and Montana

This project will complete maintenance for year-round trails, trail bridges, trailheads and signage in seven forest districts to enhance the visitor experience, improve access, and increase safety. It will also reduce deferred maintenance on trails and trail bridges, install OHV cattle guards, and improve trailhead access. Funds will be used to purchase trail maintenance equipment and supplies necessary to maintain trails to a standard.

Comanche Park Campground Reconstruction ($251,800)

Black Hills National Forest, South Dakota

This project will include the design and reconstruction of Comanche Park Campground to accommodate modern RV sites with accessible access and amenities. Work will remove and replace leaking toilets and the water system and upgrade host sites. The project may include new trails to connect the Campground to the nearby motorized trail system.

Four-Corners Snowmobile Area Toilet and Parking Lot ($102,400)

Black Hills National Forest, South Dakota

This project will make improvements at a year-round trailhead with high snowmobile use. The tiny old leaking toilet building will be replaced with a new, accessible, low-maintenance building. The parking lot will be improved with a gravel surface, and a kiosk information board will be added for public information and education. This project responds to growing user demand and will enhance the user experience at this popular site.

Lassen Forest-Wide Toilet Replacement ($530,000)

Lassen National Forest, California

Many of the vault and flush toilets were constructed decades ago and have exceeded their useful life. Project work replaces nine vault toilet buildings and repairs one flush toilet building. Vault toilets will be replaced at many sites, including the Battle Creek Campground and Ashpan Snowmobile trailhead. The work will also include updated fixtures and plumbing at the Almanor Boat Launch flush restrooms and replacement of the wastewater system repair at the Battle Creek Campground.

Pactola Boat Ramps and Parking Restoration ($103,000)

Black Hills National Forest, South Dakota

Pactola Lake is the largest lake in the Black Hills. Two boat ramps are available for year-round access for boating, fishing, ice fishing and snowmobiling on the lake. Both concrete boat ramps need to be repaired and extended, and the asphalt parking areas need to be repaired and resurfaced. This project will extend the concrete boat ramps to make a firm and stable surface, eliminate deep potholes, address erosion issues at boat ramp edges, and resurface the parking lots.


Recent Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Activity

  • Carson City, Nev. – The BLM Sierra Front Field Office announced the Indian Creek Campground in Alpine County will remain closed until further notice. “The Campground closure is due to damage caused by the 2021 Tamarack Fire and significant flooding in 2022,” said Jonathan Palma, acting Sierra Front field manager. “The campground will remain fully closed to public access until further notice.”
  • Boise, Idaho – With another fire season approaching, the BLM Idaho is asking for your help to prevent human-caused fires. BLM Idaho Acting State Director June Shoemaker signed the 2024 Fire Prevention Order, which prohibits specific fire-related activities on public land from May 10 through Oct. 20. The Fire Prevention Order makes it illegal to use fireworks, exploding targets, steel component ammunition, tracer ammunition, shooting at steel or ferrous material targets or burn explosive materials on BLM-managed public lands in Idaho.
  • Point Arena, Calif. — The BLM invited the public to “Celebrate the Coast” on Saturday, May 18, at Point Arena. This event marks the 10th anniversary of the inclusion of the Point Arena-Stornetta Unit in the California Coastal National Monument. The event was free to the public, and activities took place along the coastal trail between City Hall and the Lighthouse. Mendocino College Field Station, found along the trail, offered an open house.
  • The BLM conducted a virtual public hearing regarding the use of motorized vehicles in the management of wild horses and burros. The hearing took place on May 23 with Zoom video conferencing technology and live-streamed at The Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 requires BLM to conduct an annual hearing to consider the use of motorized vehicles in the management of wild horses and burros. The BLM typically uses motorized vehicles to conduct gathering operations, complete population surveys, and transport animals to/from corrals, pastures, and adoption, sale and transfer events.
  • Worland, Wyo. – Major improvements to the BLM-administered Gooseberry Badlands Scenic Overlook Trail west of Worland are complete. The project, funded by the Great American Outdoors Act, improves public access to the colorful desert, cliffs, hoodoos and pedestals of the Gooseberry Badlands. “This project has resulted in a safer, more sustainable trail that will be easier to maintain in the future,” said BLM Worland Field Manager Mike Phillips. “I hope people will enjoy a picnic and a walk this spring at Gooseberry to check out all of the improvements.”
  • Fairbanks, Alaska —The BLM Eastern Interior Field Office began the summer season travel limitations for the White Mountains National Recreation Area on May 1 through May 24. As the summer season travel limitations take effect, off-highway vehicles will be temporarily restricted from the Wickersham Creek Trail, Trail Creek Trail, 23 Mile Trail, and Quartz Creek Trail to prevent damage to wet trails during the transition to summer.
  • Gerlach, Nev. — High Rock Canyon Road is open for the season. High Rock Canyon is a 14-mile-long canyon and a great place for hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding and off-roading. High Rock Canyon Road is closed each year between the end of chukar hunting season (around Feb. 1) until the second weekend in May to minimize human disturbance on nesting raptors and lambing bighorn sheep. As of May 10, High Rock Canyon is open for the public to enjoy.
  • Twin Falls, Idaho – BLM Twin Falls District staff, the Southern Idaho Off-Road Association, Magic Valley ATV riders, and Jerome County hosted a cleanup day for the north rim of the Snake River Canyon on Saturday, May 18. The annual cleanup has taken place over the past 25 years, and BLM Outdoor Recreation Planner David Freiberg noted that this effort has dramatically changed the appearance of the north rim of the Snake River Canyon over the years. Unfortunately, several areas within Snake River Canyon Park continue to be littered with illegally dumped and shot-up trash. These specific areas were the focus of this year’s event.
  • Susanville, Calif. – The summer bus shuttle service on the Bizz Johnson National Recreation Trail begins Saturday, June 1, in conjunction with National Trails Day and will continue every Saturday through the summer and early fall. The service is a partnership of the Bureau of Land Management and Lassen Rural Bus.
  • Portland, Ore. — To create a better recreation experience, BLM officials at the Prineville District released a new edition of the John Day River Boater’s Guide. The release comes just in time for 2024’s river season. The 67-page, spiral-bound, waterproof book is full of information about the 174 miles of the John Day River, and it includes safety tips, river etiquette, and vibrant topographical maps that identify land ownership and potential boat-in camping areas along the river.