End of Gas Off-Road Vehicles
A few people have recently asked me about Governor Newsom’s Executive Order N-79-20, because in the order it states that “It shall be further a goal of the State to transition to 100 percent zero-emission off-road vehicles and equipment by 2035 where feasible.” This sounds bad to us, but we can relax. In State government, “off road vehicles” means heavy equipment and farm equipment, not recreational equipment. The State calls us “off highway vehicles” (OHVs). This is to differentiate us from heavy equipment. This executive order was also made in September of 2020, so it is not new. An executive order is more of a suggestion than a law, so don’t worry too much about this.
National Forest Closures
San Bernardino National Forest (Big Bear) has closed all the off-road routes in the upper mountain area and many routes below the upper area. This is a seasonal closure that is scheduled to be lifted by June 30. While we all hate closures, this is needed to keep routes from getting rutted and damaged. This also reduces sediment from getting into water (like Big Bear Lake). As the routes dry out, they will be opened. This happens every winter, especially when there is lots of snow and rain.
We watch state bills that may affect off-roading here in California. This year so far, we don’t see anything that would adversely affect us, but we still have a few bills to watch.
SB708, the bill that deals with what were red sticker motorcycles, moved easily through the Senate Natural Resources committee. Next is the Senate Transportation committee. We have submitted position letters to both committees for members to see. We will keep on this bill through at least four more committee hearings this year.
We are watching AB1617, the bill to eliminate displacement in the definition of SXS vehicles. This is to make the new Polaris SXS, that has a much higher displacement, subject to the existing rules for smaller SXSs.
SB503 was amended by adding “This bill would require that license plates issued to motor vehicles display the Internet website for Visit California” to the section of the State code right by our program. This shouldn’t affect us.
I’d like to thank the BlueRibbon Coalition for bringing these next two actions to our attention.
The BLM in Moab is looking at reducing available dispersed camping in the Labyrinth Rims/Gemini Bridges Special Recreation Management Area. The BLM recommends ending our ability to camp along any road and limit camping to 365 spots in the area. What is frustrating in their proposal is they have chosen previously disturbed sites for their camping inventory. This proposal punishes people who camp without a trace by closing their sites, while rewarding people who camp and leave evidence behind. SDORC submitted comments recommending camping be allowed along all routes, so long as there are no immediate vulnerable resources.
The BLM office in St. George, Utah is looking at exchanging 1047 acres of BLM land for 89 acres of Washington County Water Conservancy District land that is good habitat for the endangered desert tortoise. The problem with this, besides the unfair ratio, is that the 1047 acres has some fine off road vehicle trails. SDORC submitted comments asking that the 89 acres be acquired in some way other than costing us OHV opportunities.
San Diego Off-Road Jamboree
SDORC will be taking over the Lakeside Rodeo Grounds June 24 for an off-road vehicle event. We are planning to have a display of several current racing trophy trucks, with their drivers, a top fuel dragster (328 MPH!), vendors, remote control car racing and rock crawling in the arena and a VIP BBQ dinner. The price of state lobbyists has gone up and we need expert representation in Sacramento. East San Diego County is a hotbed of off-road vehicle recreation and racing. We need and are putting on an event that will showcase our own. Details and online registration will be at SDORC.org.
Green sticker grants have been made available for public comment. So far, I haven’t found any crazy applications, like in years past. I did notice the Imperial County Sheriff’s department was asking for $130,000 for a V8 sand car. This seemed a little extravagant and I brought it up on our weekly radio show (Sundays at noon AM1170). Audrey said that out at the dunes, law enforcement needs a high-performance car to run down bad guys who have their own high-performance vehicles. Made perfect sense to me. We read grant applications in the southern part of the state and comment where appropriate. We feel that we are custodians of our green sticker money and want to make sure it is used wisely.
SDORC VP Audrey Mason drove to Palm Springs to attend a State Parks meeting, whose purpose was to identify possible new green sticker opportunities. She spoke at length with staff about possible options.
While Audrey was there, I went to 29 Palms for a tour with the BLM of the Mojave Trails National Monument. I am on an advisory council, and we drove out into the desert to look at some resources and discuss the best ways to protect them, while still allowing the public to experience them. I can tell you it is a big desert and there is some very interesting stuff out there. We saw some WWII military resources including remains of a mess hall, chapel and planning area, Amboy Crater (I will be going back to hike), an old railroad cemetery, a salt extraction operation and the Joshua Tree Visitor Center.
We will be at the Corral Canyon trail workday on May 6. Tierra Del Sol 4-wheel drive club will be hosting food. Meet us there by 9:00am and bring a lopper or saw and drive on your favorite trails to trim any offending branches so we can avoid the dreaded mountain pinstriping.
Please tune into our Sunday radio show or hear the podcast at sdorc.org, join our email list, come to a monthly meeting and any events we are hosting or attending.