Calif's OHV bureaucracy suffers from a dual personality

Issues relating to the California Off Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation / Green Sticker Fund

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Jerry Seaver
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Calif's OHV bureaucracy suffers from a dual personality

Post by Jerry Seaver » Wed Jun 06, 2007 4:13 pm

Identity crisis: State agency struggles against itself
BY JAMES BURGER, Californian staff writer
e-mail: jburger@bakersfield.com | Saturday, Jun 2 2007 9:05 PM
Last Updated: Saturday, Jun 2 2007 9:08 PM

California's off-highway bureaucracy suffers from a dual personality.

Environmentalists see it as a conservation agency, tasked with healing scars from illegal off-road use. Off-roaders see it as an agency, funded by their tax dollars, that manages off-highway venues and builds new ones.

Bakersfield's plan to build a state off-highway park stumbled smack into the middle of this ongoing political morass.

Biting audit

In 2005, the California State Auditor published a scathing report of the Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Division of the State Parks department.

It detailed an agency stuck between the opposing priorities.

Bureaucrats from the division, the audit said, were at odds with the environmentalist-controlled Off-Highway Motor Vehicular Recreation Commission -- which controls the division's funding.

"In the absence of a formally adopted strategy, the commissioners voted to approve grants and cooperative agreements based on their individual interests rather than on a strategy to achieve a balanced program," the audit stated.

"There is huge conflict," said commissioner Paul Spitler, the former executive director of the California Wilderness Coalition. "The current management of the division is incredibly pro-ORV."

But the commission, he said, is lead by environmentalists.

Auditors demanded the division get its house in order.

Not easy being Greene

Daphne Greene, an off-road adventure company owner, was appointed as deputy director of the division by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2004. The former off-highway vehicle commissioner said she took the job because she hoped to help fix a broken system.

Off-roaders pay registration and fuel taxes into the system, she said, and "should expect a return on the program."

But, she said, "this program had gotten very far away from that. The more we uncovered, the uglier it got."

Spitler said he, in general, supports the goal of forming new off-highway parks.

But, he said, "people don't want to live by a dirt-bike facility. That is why one hasn't been built in 20 years."

There has been progress; a strategic plan is being drafted. But conflict between the two groups is still strong.

This year, off-roaders filed a lawsuit against the commission, accusing it of hijacking grant money and funneling it away from efforts to manage legal trails on public lands.

Park management

One of the division's priorities, Greene said, is to open new off-road parks.

The state-run parks aren't the only places where dirt bikes and four-wheelers are legal.

But for many riders a state park is their best bet for a hassle-free ride.

The off-highway division, established in 1971, runs six such parks in California.

Not once since the division was established has it opened a new state vehicular recreation area on land that wasn't already used for off-highway riding, Greene said.

The last time the division converted an existing off-road area into a state recreational vehicle park was when Prairie City SVRA opened near Sacramento in 1989.

But the need for new off-roading areas has only grown.

Between 1996 and 2006 the number of registered off-highway vehicles that can be ridden year-round in California has increased from 356,000 vehicles to more than 1 million, Greene said.

Much of the growth is happening in the inland areas of the state -- including Kern County.

Blocking the construction of new off-highway areas, Greene said, will actually hurt the sensitive areas environmentalists want to protect.

"We are not going to slow the demand and the sales of off-highway vehicles," she said. Failing to build areas for those users to ride, "is going to result in increased trespass and environmental damage."

But building off-highway parks is far more difficult than saying they should be built.

History of failure

The California off-highway division has pursued the creation of more than 50 state off-highway parks, of various sizes, in the last 10 to 15 years, Greene said.

Those attempts have failed.

High-profile efforts to build major parks in Riverside and San Diego counties consumed millions of taxpayer dollars before they collapsed.

Greene decided to kill Bakersfield's bid for an 11,000-acre park in December.

Spitler said the failure of the Bakersfield park -- and the other off-highway parks before it -- had nothing to do with the commission.

The commission will eventually need to approve park funding, Spitler said, but staff in the Off-Highway Division have sidelined the commission's role in planning parks.

There is hope that the purchase of land known as Truckhaven in Imperial County will lead to a new park, Greene said.

But Commissioner John Brissenden, an environmentalist, said meeting the conflicting goals of the state off-highway system is like dancing ballet on a tightrope.

"(You) have to both protect the environment at the same time you have to provide the opportunity (to ride)," he said. "My ballet slippers have worn out. I've fallen off that rope many times."

"The process doesn't lend itself to being successful," said Kern County Supervisor Mike Maggard.
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Post by tomjeeps2 » Wed Jun 06, 2007 6:00 pm

I don't know first base, we keep going rounds with this and it allways winds up the same, if we can't change the make up of the Commision it's a lost cause...JT ](*,)
The Country is ran by the few that show up.
They are lead by the even fewer that step up.

http://WWW.TEAMSTEALTH.ORG Noise issue information.
http://WWW.OHMVR.COM Total Off Road Recreation!

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Post by Brewster » Thu Jun 07, 2007 7:41 am

This is one instance where the Commission wasn't involved. With all of the problems that arose out of the attempted purchase of the Riverside properties for an SVRA, it was a good call to back out of this deal.

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Re: Calif's OHV bureaucracy suffers from a dual personality

Post by crash » Thu Jun 07, 2007 10:43 am

Jerry Seaver wrote: "(You) have to both protect the environment at the same time you have to provide the opportunity (to ride)," he said. "My ballet slippers have worn out. I've fallen off that rope many times."
That's because the eco-freaks are unwilling to budge on ANYTHING!!!

I don't see where that was posted/printed, but it's nice to see some good reporting with some balance.

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Post by tomjeeps2 » Thu Jun 07, 2007 11:53 am

This is one instance where the Commission wasn't involved. With all of the problems that arose out of the attempted purchase of the Riverside properties for an SVRA, it was a good call to back out of this deal.
Brew your correct as far as the Riverside land deal, I was talking about the program as a whole, in 2004 Greene was dead set to go ahead with it saying the 5 to 1 land deal was a done deal. Her response to me was "I could do something but I'm tired of the green's giving me S#%T", of course she now says she never siad that, but if anyone wonders why I give her S#%T that's the reason, it's what she responds to...TJ
The Country is ran by the few that show up.
They are lead by the even fewer that step up.

http://WWW.TEAMSTEALTH.ORG Noise issue information.
http://WWW.OHMVR.COM Total Off Road Recreation!

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Post by HozayKwarvo » Mon Jun 11, 2007 2:21 pm

tomjeeps2 wrote:I don't know first base, we keep going rounds with this and it allways winds up the same, if we can't change the make up of the Commision it's a lost cause...JT ](*,)
203 days until the sunset provision hits OHMVR.
Brian

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Post by tomjeeps2 » Mon Jun 11, 2007 2:30 pm

"O" GOD :lol: we need to get a countdown clock going...TJ =D>
The Country is ran by the few that show up.
They are lead by the even fewer that step up.

http://WWW.TEAMSTEALTH.ORG Noise issue information.
http://WWW.OHMVR.COM Total Off Road Recreation!

Tom Tammone

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