CALL OR WRITE your district Senator in favor of SB 249 BEFORE MAY 24!: Protect Our California Natural Areas from Off-Highway Vehicle Recreation

All forms of outdoor recreation have environmental impact, but not all forms have the same impact. As Californians, we face a continuous challenge to individually and collectively ‘do no harm’ to our common resources, so others - today and in the future - are able to enjoy them. While some forms of recreation (hiking, kayaking) demand little because the impacts are little, off-highway vehicle recreation demands a lot because the environmental damage is great. It is the nature of OHMVR activities that this environmental degradation is continuous and ongoing.

 

WHAT SB249 DOES:

CONSERVATION

  •  Adds important requirements and transparency to conservation and wildlife protection measures intended to minimize damage from motorized recreation.
  • Current law does not require periodic wildlife inventories or updating of habitat protection plans (these were last required in 1989). SB 249 corrects this.
  • Current law requires temporarily closing, repairing, and possibly permanently closing areas if soil conservation measures cannot be met. SB 249 extends this same process to wildlife and habitat protection measures.
  • The science and understanding of conservation and protection measures continuously changes as we learn from research and experience. SB 249 calls for a review and incorporation of the latest and best scientific information related to OHV related environmental degradation to establish appropriate and effective practices and protocols for OHV-related resource protection.

FUNDING

  • ·Distributes Fuel Tax money more equitably between motorized and non-motorized recreational uses.
  • Fuel Tax funding should be fair and used based on the different recreational reasons Californians pump gas. Those reasons include motorized recreation (ATVs, dirt bikes, etc.) and non-motorized (hiking, camping, kayaking).
  •  But today’s fuel tax allotment goes entirely to support motorized recreation. Every Californian that pumps gas is paying for OHV recreation whether they participate or not. At the same time, resources to support non-motorized recreation fall far short of need.
  • Meanwhile, the OHMVR Trust Fund is taking in more money than it can even spend.  In the current year alone, these fuel taxes contributed to an OHMVR budget surplus of $145,000,000. That’s $145 million more than the $107.5 million the OHMVR program will spend on supporting and maintaining OHV-related activities in one year.
  •  SB 249 ensures a portion of fuel tax revenue supports other family outing experiences, and recommends things like providing hiking or equestrian trails, maintaining street-legal only access to trail head parking, fishing, campsites, etc., or transportation programs so low income communities can experience the outdoors.
  • As with past state-funded Fuel Tax Studies, SB 249 requires California to periodically calculate fuel tax use to identify the portion of fuel taxes attributed to non-motorized recreation. SB 249 will use these funds to support hiking, camping, kayaking, and other forms of outdoor recreation.
  • The only way to objectively and reliably ensure that the appropriate portion of fuel tax supports motorized recreation is to base the amount transferred each year to OHMVR Trust Fund for motorized recreational uses on state Fuel Tax Study findings.

GOVERNANCE

  • Clarifies State Parks organizational structure and guarantees transparency.
  • The Department of Parks & Recreation should function as a unified state park system. SB 249 makes it clear that the responsibilities of the Division are under the general direction of the State Parks Director.
  • SB 249 ensures the Director has authority to organize the Department for maximum efficiency and effectiveness.
  • Requires all OHV plans, reports, and studies are posted online.

WHAT SB249 DOES NOT DO:

1) SB249 DOES NOT threaten to eliminate OHV activity from State Parks or from California by starving the OHMVR Program of money.

  • SB249 maintains fuel tax funding flowing into the OHMVR Trust Fund.
  • It even leaves room for the State Parks to spend some of the non-motorized recreation funds on OHV activity should the Parks Director determine the Division needs more money.
  • Additional funds from the new SB1 fuel tax will also be available should the State Parks determine more money is needed to fund OHMVR.
  • Last, user entrance fees at SVRAs and Green-Sticker Registration fees have not been increased in years. California could increase these fees to generate even more money for the OHMVR Program.

2. SB 249 does NOT create a third-party science team with full veto power over OHMVR decision-making.

  • SB 249 requires the OHMVR Division to review and update their resource protection protocols within SVRAs, OHMVR grant-funded projects areas, and for new proposed riding areas. The State Parks Director reviews and certifies the protocols and practices through a public process. 

CALL OR WRITE your district Senator BEFORE MAY 24!

In San Diego and Imperial Counties:

District 39: Tony Atkins (916) 651-4039 Capitol / (619) 645-3133 District

To write: http://sd39.senate.ca.gov/contact

District 40: Ben Hueso (916) 651-4040 Capitol / (619) 409-7690 District

To write: http://sd40.senate.ca.gov/contact/email

Other county contacts 

Sample Phone Scripts

Note: Please use these scripts as inspiration. Your call will be strongest when you can provide personal examples of why you care or what you’ve witnessed.

Funding Angle

Example 1
Good morning, my name is ________________, and I live in [REPRESENTATIVE'S NAME HERE] district in [SPECIFIC LOCATION].  I'm calling to ask for the Senator's support of SB 249, the Off Highway Motor Vehicle Reform Legislation, which has been introduced by Senator Ben Allen. My family and I have been camping at California state parks for year, and I support tax funding for our parks. But I was really surprised to learn that my fuel taxes go toward funding state OHV parks, whether or not I use them. Not only that, but according to Commission Reports, many of the state OHV parks are disproportionately funded by these taxes. Nearly 50% of their operating budget comes from the fuel tax of all Californians, when only a percentage of those are OHV park users. I'd like the Senator to support SB 249, which helps address this imbalance and more fairly allocates my taxes for

Example 2

Good morning, my name is ________________, and I live in [REPRESENTATIVE'S NAME HERE] district in [SPECIFIC LOCATION].  I'm calling to ask for the Senator's support of SB 249, the Off Highway Motor Vehicle Reform Legislation, which has been introduced by Senator Ben Allen. My family and I have been camping at California state parks for year, and I support tax funding for our parks. But I was really surprised to learn that my fuel taxes go toward funding state OHV parks, whether or not I use them. This year’s fuel taxes contributed to a $145 million surplus for the OHMVR Division. I'd like the Senator to support SB 249, which helps address this imbalance and more fairly allocates my taxes all types of outdoor recreation.

Conservation

Example 1 - Backfill

Hi, my name is ______________, and I live in [REPRESENTATIVE'S NAME HERE] district in [SPECIFIC LOCATION].  I'm calling to ask for the Senator's support of SB 249, the Off Highway Motor Vehicle Reform Legislation, which has been introduced by Senator Ben Allen. I'm so discouraged by what has been happening at the federal level to remove environmental protections. I live near [Carrizo Plain or San Gabriel Mountains…], and the recent national monument executive order just floored me. I think our California leaders need to do everything possible to support our California public lands in any way possible, and SB 249 is an important part of that. I've seen the damage that OHV use can cause to landscapes, and this bill provides common sense measures to protect our natural resources while still allowing riders to have fun. It also helps backfill protection of California resources on federal lands at a time when the Trump Administration is aggressively reducing protection. I’d like the Senator to support SB 249, which can play a key role in minimizing our natural resource loss in the state.

Example 2

Hi, my name is ______________, and I live in [REPRESENTATIVE'S NAME HERE] district in [SPECIFIC LOCATION].  I'm calling to ask for the Senator's support of SB 249, the Off Highway Motor Vehicle Reform Legislation, which has been introduced by Senator Ben Allen. I support the right for people to have fun with their OHVs, and overall I think the OHV parks are a good idea as long as people follow the rules. But the OHMVR division is failing to adequately enforce “tread lightly” rules, especially on federal lands that OHMVR grants go to help protect. (Cite a specific example of violations you’ve seen in your area if you have one. For example: “I’m an off-roader myself, and my jaw has dropped seeing the amount of illegal overflow trails bleeding out of my local SVRA onto other public land.”) I’d like the Senator to support SB 249, which can help address the enforcement gap.

Example 3

Hi, my name is ______________, and I live in [REPRESENTATIVE'S NAME HERE] district in [SPECIFIC LOCATION].  I'm calling to ask for the Senator's support of SB 249, the Off Highway Motor Vehicle Reform Legislation, which has been introduced by Senator Ben Allen. I know a number of OHV riders and support the right for people to have fun with at our OHV parks. But the OHMVR division isn’t keeping up on environmental monitoring and repairs. The parks use “best management practices,” but those aren’t the same as following wildlife habitat protection plans and location-specific restoration plans. Other California park divisions follow these common sense measures. I’d like the Senator to support SB 249, so our OHV parks are brought closer into line with the rest of the State Parks system.

Governance

·             Hi, my name is ______________, and I live in [REPRESENTATIVE'S NAME HERE] district in [SPECIFIC LOCATION].  I'm calling to ask for the Senator's support of SB 249, the Off Highway Motor Vehicle Reform Legislation, which has been introduced by Senator Ben Allen. I love our state parks system and am concerned that the OHMVR Division of our state parks seems to operate as an island agency, often making decisions that seem to run counter of the State Parks mission to “preserve the state's extraordinary biological diversity, protecting its most valued natural and cultural resource.” SB 249 helps this by making it clear that the responsibilities of the Division are under the general direction of the State Parks Director.

Letter Template

Date

Honorable (Legislator’s first & last name)

State Capitol, Room xxxx

Sacramento, CA 95814

Dear Senator (last name):                                  RE: SB 249 Off-Highway Motorized Recreation

I am writing to ask for your support of Senate Bill 249. For too long, the damage from off-highway vehicle recreation has outpaced California’s ability to repair and monitor its environmental impact.  This bill brings those factors back into balance.

[add a short statement, 3-4 sentences, how your family recreates outdoors and what you do to be a responsible steward of resources]

The Department of Parks & Recreation and its Off-Highway Motorized Vehicle Recreation Division (OHMVR) manages 112,000 acres of State Vehicle Recreation Areas (SVRAs), as well as millions of dollars in grants each year to fund OHV activities on millions of acres of BLM and USFS-managed federal lands in California.

Environmental damage and illegal OHV activity have led to multiple lawsuits in recent years against the State Parks OHV Division. Complaints include endangered species and air quality violations, cultural resource impacts, and inadequate CEQA review related to SVRA management and expansion. SB 249 reforms the OHMVR program in three important ways:

  • First, it seeks to ensure greater balance in the management and oversight of the program by ensuring all points-of-view are considered and that the program is managed consistent with the regular State Parks system.
  • It establishes a more equitable use of fuel taxes. Every time I pump gas into my vehicle, I pay for the expansion and maintenance of off-road motorized recreation - even if I don’t participate in this type of activity. I want at least a portion of the fuel taxes I pay for outdoor recreation to support my kind of activities as well. SB 249 seeks to do this by potentially funding hiking and equestrian trails and access to other family outing experiences.
  • And finally, this bill recognizes that motorized recreation has environmental impacts that are continuous and ongoing. It adds important requirements and transparency to preparing and implementing conservation and wildlife protection measures. These practices, customary in many other activities that could threaten resources, will lead to commonsense enforcement to protect our sensitive cultural and natural resources.
  • SB 249 will take measured and appropriate steps to ensure off-highway motorized recreation is enjoyed in ways that protect shared resources and other outdoor recreational opportunities. For these reasons I ask that you support this bill when it comes before you for a vote.

Sincerely,