El Dorado County, Rubicon Trail
Some may remember the extensive involvement CORVA had during the easement designation process for the Rubicon Trail many years ago. As opposed to most motorized trails in the state, the Rubicon Trail is designated as an unimproved El Dorado county road, as the county asserted their RS2477 rights to the road and can document travel on the Rubicon Trail to the 1840's https://www.edcgov.us/Government/Rubicon/Pages/rubicon_trail_history.aspx. The county has the sole authority to open and close the trail, which they do in response to weather conditions and public emergencies. However, a portion of the Rubicon does travel through Placer County, which has not asserted the same rights as El Dorado County. This is a problem I am working on as well.
Rubicon Trail was closed by order of the Fire Marshal to El Dorado County in response to the Mosquito Fire that started September 6th. At one point, Georgetown was evacuated as well as neighboring communities https://www.fire.ca.gov/incidents/2022/9/6/mosquito-fire/. As a result of rain and cooler weather this week, firefighters have been able to get a handle on the fire and containment stands at about 60% https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/8398/. The Rubicon Trail was closed immediately, however hiking trails and other roads particularly in the east side of the trail were not closed! But guards were posted by the Tahoma Staging Area precluding travel into that area of the trail, as reported by Doug Barr, life member of CORVA. This entrance ,which is the eastern entrance to the Rubicon Trail, is located in the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit, relatively far away from the fire zone. I was able to speak extensively to the Forest Service about this example of how differently motorized recreation trails are treated than other non-motorized recreation trails. The reason I was given by Region 5, US Forest Service, was that people take many days to travel the Rubicon, and authorities didn't want people in danger. However no one in authority at Region 5 considered that people hiking Wilderness trails also may travel many days, but do not have the mobility that riders and drivers have to quickly vacate an area. We are hoping that the Fire Marshal will lift the closure order on Monday, but the problem of recreational bias has been laid bare.
California Natural Resources Agency
The California Wildfire and Forest Resilience Task Force meeting is on Tuesday, September 27th in Grass Valley to discuss the draft 'Joint Strategy for Sustainable Outdoor REcreation in California' https://www.calrecvision.org/. I am looking forward to using the example above of 'Recreational Bias' to point out the hypocritical ways that the Forest Service is treating different forms of recreation. I have informal meetings set up for the evening before with agency-affiliated personnel, and I'm looking forward to networking. Registration is still open should others want to attend.
On Wednesday, September 28th is the 30x30 Partnership Kick Off meeting in Sacramento at the California Natural Resources Agency https://www.californianature.ca.gov/. I am attending that meeting in person, but the in-person attendance registration has now been closed. It is possible to register for the online Zoom meeting virtual event at the link above. I do know a couple of the individuals on the current Partnership Committee, but there is no one representing active forms of recreation. We must as a community pay more attention to these issues and rise to the point where we can represent enthusiasts on partnership committees such as these. The amount of land considered 'conserved' has not changed since the start of this initiative, even with numerous entities, including CORVA, have submitted comments advocating for additional areas to be considered conserved. It still stands at roughly 24%, but I truly believe that if federal wilderness study areas were included California would easily top 30%. Anyone who has additional lands to report as conserved can do so at the following link: https://survey123.arcgis.com/share/8397283d95a34a4fad138b752ca0f7ba
This past month saw the OHMVR Commission meeting change from an in-person hybrid meeting to a strictly hybrid meeting. A number of CORVA board members also participated in the meeting which started at 9:00am and did not finish until after 6:00pm. But there were a number of important issues that were under discussion. Please look at the September 16th meeting on the following page: https://ohv.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=27160 to review the reports that were sent out, admittedly late, for the meeting. To address the concerns about the health of the OHV Trust Fund, there is a report entitled; "FIscal Year 2022/2023 Budget". This report highlights the instability of the OHV Trust Fund which is not currently bringing in enough money to sustain the OHV Trust Fund grants, maintenance of the SVRA's plus capital outlay projects for major upgrades and repairs for SVRA's. In a previous report for the OHMVR Commission, it is reported that compliance with the Stipulated Order of Abatement for the SLO County Air Pollution Control District at Oceano Dunes is costing around $2,000,000 a year. That cost doesn't help the OHV Trust Fund bottom line!
In response to the problems with the OHV Trust Fund, the division will reduce the amount available for the OHV Trust Fund Grants next year by $5 million. This year, the OHV Trust Funds grants only funded just north of $29 million in projects out of $35 million available, so perhaps the reduced amount of grant money available won't be too harmful. But as the state moves towards increased electric vehicle integration, the money coming from the gas tax, which is the greatest contributor to the OHV Trust Fund, will see significant reductions. It is time to start thinking seriously about ways to increase monies coming into the funds. One of the ideas that has been considered in the past is a sort of 'OHV sticker' for 4WD vehicles. There is definitely room to review the Tacking, Accountability and Compliance procedures that have been put in place for mixed districts where equipment purchased with OHV Trust Fund money and manpower billed as part of the OHMVR Division are now part of mixed districts. CORVA had reported on the misuse of these procedures in February of 2020, right before the pandemic began. Unfortunately, there has been no resolution or response from CORVA's report.
One of the important issues discussed at the OHMVR Commission meeting concerned a draft letter written by 2 commissioners and proposed to be sent to the APCD Hearing Board meeting to be held October 14th https://www.slocleanair.org/who/board/hearing-board.php. This will be a virtual meeting. At this meeting State Parks will request a change in the Stipulated Order of Abatement to reduce the dust reduction target for the SOA from 5-% to 40.7%, the amount that had been previously determined by the Science Advisory Group as being derived from ff-road recreation occurring in ODSVRA. It is unknown how the APCD Hearing Board will respond to this request. At a previous meeting the board reviewed the possibility of reducing the air pollution target unfavorably, and the State of California officially requested the APCD Hearing Board not consider any reduction to the target amount of the SOA.
Right after the August CORVA Board of Directors Zoom meeting the state held the OHV Safety Summit outside of Sacramento. A number of CORVA Board of Directors participated in the summit and I served as one of the co-hosts with the state. The Priority List and Summit meeting notes are attached, and represent an excellent example of 'groupthink' , with the state actively soliciting solutions to issues with OHV recreation, largely with SxS vehicles. Please review both the notes from the summit, which are transferable to issues facing OHV recreation around the state. Personally, I was impressed with the depth of dedication shown from the participants, and the contributions from law enforcement personnel who attended. Almost every SVRA sent law enforcement personnel to report on the issues in their specific parks. Not all the parks have the same issues, so it was very helpful.
Hollister Hills SVRA has been included as part of the 4th Grade Adventure Program: https://www.parks.ca.gov/adventurepass , the first time an SVRA has been chosen as one of the target parks. This year, there are a total of 19 parks participating. Part of the problem, is that no one told the OHMVR Division or Hollister Hills that they've been chosen! It is up to the community to make this program a success, so I will be meeting soon with State Parks Interpretation staff for more direction.
I've attached 2 documents that have been distributed to law enforcement throughout California regarding red sticker use in California. This information was released to law enforcement a number of months ago, but it has not been widely distributed to the public. Since the provisions of SB 894 will not go into effect until January 2027, these regulations will be in force until that point, for a number of years to come. -please note attachements!
Equally interesting was the California State Parks Rangers Association Rendezvous in Truckee. I was privileged to help celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the OHMVR DIvision with a number of retired ranges who served at SVRA's, and to see Paul Slavik be the first OHV Enthusiast to receive the Honorary Ranger Award and his own California State Parks Ranger hat! There was a great retrospective of Pauls's career, which included snippets of videos that he had done with Ed Waldheim and Bob Ham talking about the beginning of the OHMVR program in California. I also met Lisa Beutler at the event, who had worked alongside many of us as a facilitator for the old Stakeholders Group. Many of us remember Lisa's work fondly.
AB 2152 became law after it was signed by the Governor, and SB 894 was presented to the Governor on September 9th for his signature. The Governor VETOED SB 894 on September 25th. This is a link to his veto letter: https://www.gov.ca.gov/wp-content/uploads/2022/09/SB-894-VETO.pdf?emrc=ff7580
The Lassen National Forest has taken a stab at recognizing how Maintenance Level 3 roads are hindering greensticker travel in the forest and proposed a minor change in designation, including downgrading some roads to ML2 to allow legal greensticker travel, and are proposing to study other roads for official mixed use designation. This involves CHP analysis, and is limited to 3 miles.
I have been asked by the Regional Forester to provide feedback on what the Region is doing well, and perhaps less well, in California. I asked groups and individuals involved in different forests throughout California for feedback that I can include to the Regional Forester, so I will be presenting a broad range of experiences and opinions. I am honored to be included in this personal request by the Regional Forester, as far as I can ascertain, I do not know of other OHV advocates who received the same request.
The Inyo National Forest started the scoping for the Travel Management, Subpart C plan with in-person meetings in Mammoth. Thanks to board member Kevin Bazar for attending the meeting along with CORVA member Michael Lueders. Michael is the head of the volunteer based Search and Rescue organization for Inyo County, and has a lot of on-the-ground knowledge of the area.
Please review the attached report and request from Scott Stacy, CORVA member. Scott would like CORVA's help with maintenance for both the Husky Memorial and the Wagon Wheel Memorial in Ridgecrest. I've organized the photos into a brochure along with some of the ideas submitted by Scott. He is eagerly anticipating the board's response.
September 26/27: California Wildfire and Forest Resiliency Task Force, Grass Valley
September 28: 30x30 Partnership Meeting, Sacramento
October 1/2: Off Road Expo, Pomona
October 4: Inyo National Forest OSV meeting
October 12-14: Nevada Offroad Association meeting, Reno
October 14: APCD Hearing Board meeting
October 15: Prairie City Visitor Appreciation Day
October 23: Northern Jamboree, Frank Raines OHV Park