California Natural Resources Agency
This past month I attended one of the 30x30 Virtual Expo Series meetings held to promote engagement and participation with the State 30x30 Initiative. The direction that the state is heading indicates that promoting voluntary conservation easements and enhanced conservation designations are the primary goals. They are also mentioning elevating existing management directions for both federal and state public land. This could be problematic for off-road opportunities, and we need to stay in close contact with our federal partners to see how this might manifest. It will certainly lead to more pressure from anti-access (quasi-environmental) groups to pressure federal agencies and state parks for more designated wilderness or natural preserves, in the case of the state.
While I had been previously informed that all state parks were included in the 30x30 Initiative as protected areas, besides natural preserves, the rest of the parks in California are not included in the calculation of 'conserved' land. Even though our SVRA's have soil conservation plans and habitat management plans, they are considered Tier 4, or the lowest tier for conservation calculations. That said, all state parks are not included as targets or lands open to additional conservation measures. But the percentage of protected land has not changed since the initial calculation, the state still measures conserved lands as 23.78%. In the FAQ section: https://www.californianature.ca.gov/pages/resources#publicengagement , it does state that the state has received a lot of areas that seem to comply with conservation criteria but may be included in the future percentage. With the amount of attention and the work the state has dedicated to 30x30, they may not update the percentage of protected land as they continue to engage with local land trusts.
The next meeting of the California Wildfire and Forest Resilience Task Force has been rescheduled to February 2 & 3, 2023, in Calabasas, CA. I plan to attend in person and encourage CORVA members of BOD and all members of the enthusiast community to attend: https://wildfiretaskforce.org/meetings/
The OHMVR Commission met for a workshop on Thursday, November 3rd in Ontario followed by the meeting on Friday, November 4th. I flew to attend the workshop, which was the first time the state has actually addressed the changes that SB 155 brought to the table. "When considering acquisition and development of properties to expand off-highway vehicle recreation opportunities, the department may prioritize properties that have potential to serve large urban areas such as the Bay Area and Central Valley, offer potential recreational opportunities for off highway vehicle recreation, and potential opportunities for motorized access to non-motorized recreation. Properties for consideration may include areas within existing State Parks and State Recreation Areas, including, but not limited to, Henry Coe State Park. The department shall not consider the Alameda-Tesla Expansion Area in this process."
The workshop was led by Alex Stehl in her role as Deputy Director of Strategic Planning for State Parks, and Katie Metraux, State Parks planner. While there were some positive ideas that were proposed in the workshop, the loss of the Alameda-Tesla Expansion Area of Carnegie SVRA which directly led to the development of SB 155, was largely ignored. My comments were geared towards reminding both State Parks planners and the OHMVR Commission, and the loss of opportunity the expansion area represented, have been largely ignored. In a subsequent meeting with Chief Deputy Director of State Parks, Liz McGuirk, Past President of CORVA Diana Mead and me, Liz acknowledged the loss to the local Carnegie community and promised that Parks would hold a meeting in the greater Bay Area so local enthusiasts could meet and discuss opportunities. This doesn't lessen the need that exists in the entire state for more OHV and 4WD recreation opportunities, but the need for the Central Valley and greater Bay Area for more SxS roads and trails must be considered seriously. All OHV and 4WD enthusiasts are encouraged to look at State Parks and State Recreation Areas in their local neighborhoods and propose new opportunities for the community. Discussions will be continuing with State Parks and planning will start for the Bay Area meeting after the first of the year.
Thanks to all who attended the Comments Project Workshop on December 1 held in conjunction with the California 4 Wheel Drive Association. A recording of the meeting along with the slides and the Q & A information were sent to the participants. If anyone else wants the information from the workshop, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org. The comment period for the Red Rock Canyon State Parks Preliminary General Plan and Draft Environmental Impact Report closes on December 16th: https://www.redrockcanyongp.com/resources. We had 25 participants attending the workshop, which is an excellent turnout considering the difficulty. I was very pleased to have participants also from the Nevada Offroad Association. The Comments Project Workshop is a unique opportunity to educate off-roaders. Thanks to all the presenters and the participants!
Side by Side education policy continues to be debated through State Parks. The state will hold another OHV Safety Summit in July of 2023 in a location TBA. In the meantime, Utah has created a comprehensive OHV and 4WD Safety course: Utah OHV Safety Requirements as has Arizona: https://www.azgfd.com/education/ohv/. California is looking to both these programs as inspiration. Additionally, SxS safety issues have become elevated throughout the country, which may prompt attention from the Consumer Products Safety Commission.
Prairie City SVRA, Carnegie SVRA and Hollister Hills SVRA all have some type of weather closure policy during the winter months. Please go to the website for each SVRA before traveling. The intent of the closure is to protect the trails, but the state promises to close only those trails necessary and leave the rest of the parks areas open.
The California State Parks Grants and Cooperative Agreements program will be holding a workshop on January 9th and 10th, 2023. The flyer for the workshop is attached.
During the past couple of months, the facilitation efforts for the Inyo National Forest, Subpart C Over Snow Management analysis have ended. The meetings are always contentious, but there was great participation from local over-snow enthusiasts. But after the culmination of the 4 meetings, Advocates of the West held a Zoom workshop co-sponsored by Winter Wildlands Alliance, that clearly stated the intent of both organizations to eliminate motorized and mechanized recreation from public land. These organizations and others of the same ilk have no interest in compromise, making it impossible to work with them in collaborative efforts. The OHV and 4WD communities must be aware that these organizations hold uncompromising beliefs that motorized and mechanized efforts are not a legitimate use of public land.
I also attended the Sequoia and Sierra Forest Plan Revision Objection Meetings by Zoom, representing CORVA. CORVA had submitted substantive objections noting that since the vast majority of the information the proposed forest revisions are based on were gathered before the pandemic, in a post-pandemic world that has seen a phenomenal increase in motorized recreation, these conclusions are no longer valid.
Seasonal winter closures have begun for many of the Northern and Central California forests. Lake Tahoe Basin and Eldorado National Forests have started their winter native surface road closure early due to weather conditions. The Rock Creek system in the Eldorado has a different closure mechanism. The Tahoe National Forest has also instituted their winter weather closure. Go to the Forest Service website and click on your favorite forest to find out what rules are in force: https://www.fs.usda.gov/, go to the drop-down menu to choose your forest.
The US Marines are asking for comments on the Shared Use Area of Johnson Valley OHV Area: https://www.29palms.marines.mil/Staff-Offices/Government-and-External-Affairs/Johnson-Valley/. The Marines are requesting comments from OHV and 4WD Enthusiasts pertaining to the management of the Shared Use Area due on Friday, December 9th. Please go to the above website or email: SMBPLMSJOHNSONVALLEY@usmc.mil, Subject line: RMG Annual Comments and submit your assessment on how the Marines have done managing the shared use area. Also sign up for text alerts from the Marines for closure schedules and public meetings.
I attended the Central California Resource Advisory Council workshop. The RAC does not yet have a quorum, but presentations were given including updates on OHV areas. The BLM is looking to increase signage for OHV areas, to prevent trespass and give more information on local conditions. VP of Land Use Bruce Whithcer and I have plans to meet with the Central California District Manager Chris Heppe to look at maps to discover possible additions for OHV opportunities in the new year.
I also attended the BLM/NOHVCC listening session in Sacramento. Together the BLM and NOHVCC really want to hear back from enthusiasts around the state. The major topic of conversation for Northern California was the reopening of the Clear Creek Management Area. Enthusiasts all over the state are calling for the reopening of that world class riding area. The Southern California meetings will be held in Spring 2023 in locatations TBD. The BLM and NOHVCC really want OHV and 4WD enthusiasts to report back on areas that are important to them. The form is attached, please send it in to: Marc Hildesheim email@example.com
Download: NOHVCC CA Action Plan Workshop
Date TBD: Ongoing meeting with State Parks re: SB 155
December 5: Eastern Sierra Recreation Partnership
December 9: Johnson Valley Shared Use Comments due
December 16: Red Rock Comments due
December 28: Sierra Nevada Sustainable Recreation Partnership meeting
January 9, 2023: Grants and Cooperative Agreements workshop
January 10, 2023: Grants and Cooperative Agreements workshop