Our Jamboree at Lakeside Rodeo Grounds was a big success. We sold out of vender spaces several weeks before the event and had to turn away a number of requests. Next year we may take over the covered Junior Fair area just north. We had lots of attendees, fun RC cars in the arena, a big raffle with Chris Boyer as MC. We had VIPs Carl DeMaio and Andrew Hayes stop by for a visit. Important to us is we had fun and made some money. A big thanks goes out to Audrey Mason and all the volunteers who helped make this a great event.
Last month we talked about AB1617 being held by the author. This was the bill to remove the displacement limit in the definition of side by sides. We can expect to see it next year. We introduced you to S874, a bill that is mostly recreation friendly, but has a clause that has all the National Forests and BLM re-doing travel management. We have asked to have that section removed before we can support the bill. The latest red sticker bill, SB708, was held in the Assembly Water Parks and Wildlife committee. That means it is dead. The committee chair who held it is Rebecca Bauer-Kahan. She is the same one who gave us a lot of trouble at Carnegie SVRA relating to the land purchase to expand the park. This was the fourth time Senator Brian Jones has carried a bill to help race bike owners register their post 2021 racing motorcycles.
A surprise we recently found out about was bill AB1008. This bill was the Western Joshua Tree Conservation Act and was introduced by none other than Rebecca Bauer-Kahan. This bill went around the State’s Fish and Game Commission and gave the Joshua tree similar protection to being on the State’s endangered species list. The Center for Biological Diversity tried to get the Joshua tree on the federal ESA list and was denied. They then tried to get it on the California list but had trouble. So they went through the legislative route and had the bill’s language added to the Budget Trailer Bill (SB122). This bill was signed into law in June and now stands. I did some research on Joshua tree habitat and, fortunately for us, does not overlap much of the areas where we like to go off-roading. Because this is state law, it will not affect activities on BLM land. I am personally upset about this and had we had a lobbyist this year, we may have been able to repel this action.
The price of gasoline went up 4 cents a gallon in California on July 1st. Before that date, California had the highest gas tax in the country. Now it is even higher. What is in the tax?
54 cents in state excise tax: among the highest in the nation
18.4 cents in federal excise tax
23 cents for California’s cap-and-trade program to lower greenhouse gas emissions
18 cents for the state’s low-carbon fuel programs
2 cents for underground gas storage fees
An average of 3.7% in state and local sales taxes
BLM Conservation Rule
Last month we talked about the proposed BLM conservation rule. Among other things, it would allow outside entities to gain conservation easements of BLM land and make it easier to designate Areas of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC). There was so much interest (on both sides) in this proposed rule the BLM extended the comment period. These are the comments submitted by SDORC:
The San Diego Off-Road Coalition is a nonprofit that advocates for off-road vehicle users in Southern California. Our organization holds a large, annual event on BLM land and helps coordinate three desert cleanups per year on BLM land. I have personally served on the BLM Desert Advisory Council and currently serve the BLM on the Mojave Trails National Monument Advisory Council. We have a vested interest in the successful management of BLM land in our region.
We have reviewed the proposed conservation rule and we vigorously oppose it. There are approximately 20 federal legislative acts that direct management of BLM land including the Endangered Species Act, the Migratory Bird Act, the Wilderness Act and the Antiquities Act. These acts do a more than adequate job of conserving public land. By moving forward with this proposal, the public will be unfairly locked out of vast amounts of land. There are currently 803 wilderness areas that cover a staggering 111.7 million acres, more area than in the state of California. There are 424 national park sites spanning more than 84 million acres. The National Monuments and National Conservation Areas Program includes over 13.7 million acres and provides direction for the BLM’s 28 national monuments, 17 national conservation areas, and six similarly designated lands, including three outstanding natural areas, one cooperative management and protection area, and one forest reserve. This huge amount of land is highly protected and does not include the millions of acres currently designated as ACEC’s. More than enough land is protected now. Allowing outside groups or individuals to have Conservation Leases is a bad idea. Making ACECs easier to designate is a bad idea. If a federal act says that land should be protected, that is one thing, but allowing individuals or groups to decide is a mistake that is very likely illegal and will end up in court. Please do away with this proposed conservation rule.
One of the big court cases to save Oceano Dunes for off-roading went before the judge recently. While I wasn’t able to attend, a couple of CORVA directors were there. Bruce Brazil wrote “The court hearing has just ended. For those of you that were not able to watch and hear it, here’s my viewpoint on the proceedings. Finally, basically it was to determine who has authority over the O.D. SVRA, for both recreational OHV use and camping. The pro-OHV side made very good statements with factual evidence pointing out the lack of authority of the CCC to overshadow the authority of the OHMVR Division and other government offices. The SVRA had been in existence for about 4 years before the formation of the CCC and therefore was an accepted existing historic activity. The CCC tried to make a point about motorized use would not be completely eliminated in the SVRA under their plans because STREET LEGAL vehicles would still be allowed in certain sections. But the pro-OHV side pointed out that the area mentioned was NOT within the boundaries of the SVRA but was in the State Park section. Both sides tried to support their side of the controversies.”
From Amy Granat: “I listened as well. Tom Roth spoke very well, but I wasn’t impressed with the lawyer representing the Coastal Commission. I thought the question the judge asked if the Coastal Commission had ever evaluated the use of OHV, basically asking about the carrying capacity, was telling. After all, the Coastal Commission went from all to nothing allowed, even as the CC attorney tried to make the case that OHV would still be allowed, as Bruce said. The case will certainly test the limits of the Coastal Commission, unless it is decided very narrowly. I could poke a few holes in the CC attorney’s arguments, so I think the judge could definitely do the same.”
I just learned that after the Coastal Commission made its ruling, a study on what happens if OHV ends at ODSVRA was commissioned (at a cost of $87,500!). This study was done with the help of more than 40 stakeholders, including California State Parks, Northern Chumash tribal leaders, and representatives from municipalities like Grover Beach, Arroyo Grande, Pismo Beach, and the Oceano Community Services District. Some interesting facts from the study: Based on cellphone geolocation data, about 3.4 million people walked, drove, biked or rode horses onto Oceano Dunes SVRA in 2019. Around two-thirds of those were visitors from outside of San Luis Obispo County. OHV-related spending resulted in a $511.2 million impact on the county in 2019.
Odds and ends
I will be attending a ROV safety summit put on by State Parks July 27 and an OHV Commission meeting July 28 in Sacramento.
We submitted comments on the Mojave Trails National Monument management plan for scoping. Routes in the monument will be handled in other plans, so I wrote about allowing rockhounds to collect, allowing commercial activities like movie making, traveling events like poker runs, geocaches and tours and other events like weddings and camp-outs.
There was another 30 x 30 meeting recently. I listened in and heard that they are officially at 25% and they are working on getting Native American land designated. In my opinion, if they counted land properly, they would be at about 34% now.
The Air Resources people are looking at gas can emissions and are starting with a survey to try to determine “the inventory” of air pollution that comes from gas cans. I have personally had trouble pouring from legal cans, so I hope they can figure out how to make pouring easier.
We received funding from our Yamaha grant to buy hay bales to line the kids training trails at Corral Canyon. We already bought and positioned the bails. If you have kids on 70cc or smaller motorcycles or ATVs, you might want to plan a day in Corral Canyon. The area is at the north end of the campground. Only small vehicles can fit through the gate, but mom or dad can come in with a chair and watch the fun. Thank you Yamaha!
The Lost Lizard Fun Run is just around the corner on November 4. I believe we have all the checkpoints covered. We still need raffle prizes and event sponsors. If you would like to be involved, let us know at [email protected].
We are still meeting at Ranch House Restaurant on the first Tuesday, now at 6:30pm. Come early for dinner and see you on the trail.