The California OHV program is facing a major threat from Senate Bill 249. This cherished program, long seen as a model nationwide, is slated for renewal due to a sunset provision that was included in the previous program authorization. However as written, SB 249 overlooks the important role the OHV program plays within state parks while serving all Californians. The program not only provides quality, sustainable, family oriented recreation for citizens and visitors alike, but also emphasizes environmental sustainability and protection, as well as public safety and partnerships with federal government agencies that provide OHV opportunities.
If adopted as written, SB 249 would begin to dismantle decades of work and indeed mark the end of this nationally recognized and celebrated program.
AMA members and indeed all OHV recreationists must immediately contact their elected officials and remind them of the benefits the program provides to every citizen and visitor to California. It is important to remind them that the program uses no general fund monies and is in fact based on a user-pay, user-benefit style model. Monies used to pay for the program include those taxes collected on fuel, State Vehicle Recreation Areas (SVRAs) entrance fees and vehicle registrations (green and red stickers).
Senate Bill 249 would result in a diversion of these funds for non-OHV related purposes and also proposes to reduce the number of OHV representation on the OHV Commission. Additionally it would severely limit opportunities for public involvement in the decision-making process in the future.
The public simply deserves better, and it is incumbent on the Legislature to deliver on the promises made during previous re-authorizations, that this and similar “user pay, user benefit” programs remain untouched. The OHV community has long paid their own way and will continue to do so as long as these monies are used for their intended purpose.