SACRAMENTO (Dec. 15, 2005) - On December 14, a coalition of 14 national, state, and local OHV recreation groups called for the disbandment of the California State Parks Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation (OHMVR) Commission. California regulations mandate that funds collected from OHV registrations go for environmental education, law enforcement, public safety, trail conservation and land acquisition programs. Spokesmen for the coalition said the decision to call for the disbandment came after the Commission voted to defund several important enforcement and safety programs, operated by the U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, and local sheriff departments.
John Stewart, Director of Environmental Affairs for the United Four Wheel Drive Associations said actions taken at a December 8 Commission meeting were identical to problems identified in an audit conducted by the California Bureau of State Audits earlier this year. "The OHMVR Commission is blatantly continuing irregularities identified in the audit. There is no longer any accountability. The only option left is to call for its disbandment."
Don Amador, western representative for the BlueRibbon Coalition noted that calling for disbandment of the OHV Commission was the last resort. "The refusal to fund important safety and education program shows the Commission no longer functions in accordance to the California law which established the committee. We call, once again, for oversight from the legislature. The decision to de-fund the off-highway vehicle (OHV) oriented law enforcement responsibilities of many county sheriffs' departments and federal agencies is shameful," Amador added.
Earlier this year, the same coalition sent a letter to Senator Bill Morrow (R-Oceanside) asking for legislative hearings by the Joint Legislative Audit Committee based on a recent report by the Bureau of State Audits critical of the OHMVR Program. That audit cited irregularities within the grants program that were again evident during the recent commission hearing.
"The Commission should consider this a vote of no confidence by the OHV community," Amador concludes. "We pay taxes and registration fees and those funds should be used for trail maintenance, law enforcement, and safety education, not purchasing greenbelts or other real-estate schemes."
The groups signing the September 8 letter to Senator Morrow include: American Sand Association, Off-Road Business Association, San Diego Off-Road Coalition, American Motorcyclist Association, American Motorcyclist Association - District 36, American Motorcyclist Association - District 37, BlueRibbon Coalition, California Association of Four-Wheel Drive Clubs, California/Nevada Snowmobile Association, California Off-Road Vehicle Association, Desert Vipers Motorcycle Club, Duners, American Motorcyclist Association District 37 Dual Sport, and United Four Wheel Drive Associations.
The audit can be viewed here.