Thanks To Organizations Like CORVA, Cal4Wheel, and San Diego Off-Road Coalition, We Have A Permanent Funding Budget In California!
There has been a lot of mixed information and old information floating around regarding SB 249 in California legislation. I will try to give a nice hash out of the old vs the new one (that got updated on Sept 8th, 2017, and subsequently passed and signed by the Governor on October 3rd, 2017).
The Old SB 249:
The old one was a complete disaster for the OHV community and OHV recreation in California. It would have taken 100% of the green sticker and 4×4 registration fees away from the OHV Grant Fund and thereafter placed them all into the General Fund. All of the OHV system parks and trails in California would have been turned over to the State Parks and Recreation. State Parks and Rec already have enough funding issues as it is, by giving them more responsibility and acreage to maintain and look after, but not more funding to do so, would have effectively eliminated the OHV trails and parks. In order to keep trails and parks open, we need one of 2 things… 1) Funds and public organizations as caretakers or 2) More private organizations to step up and adopt trails. Jeep and 4×4 clubs do a pretty good job at this already, but unfortunately, there just plain isn’t enough people joining clubs to maintain every OHV park and trail in California.
The New SB-249 (That Has Officially Been Signed As Of Oct 3rd, 2017):
The quick and dirty… The OHV program keeps 100% of the green sticker and 4×4 registration funds. And, there is no more sunset on the bill. This means that it is a permanent addition to the state recreation program and accounting ledgers for the unforeseeable future. Now, as with any political bills, there had to be a compromise somewhere. The new SB249 comes with more strict trail environmental rules and standards that must be maintained. However, there is also more funding structure in place to help keep trails maintained and open.
The new SB-249 (the specific details that are important to the bill):
The funding breakdown is as follows:
- 50% of the OHV Fund must be used towards maintaining trails and parks and keeping them from dropping below environmental standards. This can be anything from cleaning out silt traps, setting up giant boulders alongside the trail to keep people from going off into meadows and sensitive areas, setting up and maintaining outhouses, putting in anti erosion strategies, etc.
- 25% of the OHV Fund must be used towards re-opening trails and parks. If a trail or park falls below the environmental standards, there is a set part of the fund that is set aside to work to get those trails and parks re-opened.
- 20% of the OHV Fund must be used towards law enforcement. This helps to police the “bad eggs” that ruin the trails for the rest of us.
- 5% of the OHV Fund must be used towards education. This can be anything from recreating safely (chainsaw classes, recovery classes, preparing for getting stuck in the outdoors, maintaining trails, tread lightly concepts, etc).
In order to collect any of these funds, groups or organizations must apply for a grant and state their case as to why the grant they are asking for applies to one of the above categories.
Along with the funding structure, a commission is going to be put together to oversee the OHV Funding structure, setting the environmental standards that the trails must maintain, and decide which trails will receive maintenance programs and funding. This commission will be made of 9 people. Of those 9 people, there must be at least 1 type of representative of the following 6 groups:
- Off-highway vehicle recreation interests,
- Biological or soil scientists,
- Groups or associations of predominantly rural landowners,
- Law enforcement,
- Environmental protection organizations
- Nonmotorized recreation interests
The commission must meet 4 times per year for public comments, in different parts of the state. They must also meet at least once for public comment with any proposed substantial acquisition or development project at a location in close geographic proximity to the project.
Those are all of the main points. The rest of the bill is filled with idealized ways and structured processes of how to create an “environmental standard” for a trail or park.
My Off Road Radio personally thinks that the bill that was passed is awesome. We get permanent OHV funding, that is built into state statute. And we get a more structured funding that will hopefully be more proactive in maintaining our trails and keeping them from getting closed in the first place. And, if the trails do get closed, we have a set fund to pull from to get those trails opened back up ASAP. Sure, we need to be a little more careful when we wheel, but we should be doing that already. If you are here on this website and forum, it is most likely because you have a love and passion for the outdoors. We would hope upon sincerest hopes that you would want others behind you (your kids, grand kids, their grand kids) to enjoy and share that same love and passion. So, we should already be doing everything we can to TREAD LIGHTLY on the trails. Not tear up everything around us, and keep the outdoors and mother nature in a state that we can ALL enjoy. IMO, the “environmental standards” will hopefully be set to a reasonable level, and this bill will just help police the OHV community to how we should be carrying ourselves already; with pride and care for our passion.
Massive kudos goes out to Cal 4 Wheel, CORVA, San Diego Off-Road Coalition, Blue Ribbon Coalition, industry big wigs, and other lobbyists that put their time and effort into convincing the California Legislation to do a complete 180 reversal of the old bill to what was passed. Please consider supporting the organizations in the coalition… especially if you actually make use of ANY of our OHV trails or parks. Without them, as of January 1 2018, you would start losing your recreation opportunities. If you are using the trails, please contribute your part. A 40$ membership is a small price to pay as a thank you for a future’s worth of recreation. Plus, with more funds in their hands, they will be able to focus more energy and resources into doing awesome things for all of us. A great example of that is the Rubicon Trail Foundation. They just recently purchased and opened a massive chunk of land between Spider Lake and Rubicon Springs for all of us to enjoy. The more we can get funds into these organizations, the more we can increase our OHV recreation options in the state of California, and your state too.
That is all! I will get off my soapbox for now 🙂 Again, if anyone from the coalition reads this, we at M.O.R.R. know how much work went into Sb249 and are very proud to be partnered with, and supporting, our Partners. Thank you!!!
What do you think? Head over to the forums and let everyone know!
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