Lobbyist and Bills
Because our lobbyist is new to off-road vehicles, we recently had a call to explain what types of bills we are looking for. Bills are being introduced until February 16 and we expect to see about 50 bills that could affect us. We are interested in bills having to do with transportation, State Parks and natural resources. In past years, out of the 50 or so bills, we found about 10 we wanted to keep an eye on in case amendments come that could affect us, and two or three bills that do affect us that we carefully monitor throughout the process.

I saw an article in Cycle News about the red sticker bill, SB708, that was held in a committee last year. Held means the committee chair chose not to let the bill be voted on. That stopped it last year, but it may come back this year and since the committee chair was changed this year, it is possible the bill could live on. It could also be reintroduced with possibly changed language and get a new number. SB708 would have State Parks issue a sticker just so these racing motorcycles can be used in competition on public land.

I don’t believe any OHV safety bills are being introduced, but we won’t know for sure until late February. If any are, it will be without the blessing of State Parks and will have a low chance of passing.

Trust Fund and Grants
The California green sticker program is given a little over $60 Million each year by the legislature. While 2024 has already been allocated, 2025 is being worked on. The money is set aside in two parts. About half goes to the State Parks Off Highway Vehicle Division and the nine State Vehicular Recreation Areas, and the other half goes to the grants program. For 2025, the division half has been set aside, but the grants were only given $1 million. I heard from division staff that this has happened before, and the rest of the money will be allocated in May. Still, with the state looking at such a large deficit, we are worried. The majority of grant money goes to the BLM, National Forests, sheriffs and some important nonprofits. Good thing we have a lobbyist in Sacramento to help us.

I heard that the geothermal test well in the northeast of Ocotillo Wells had shown promise. Of course this has me worried, so I while I was out there, I went to have a look around. I went to the Salton City airport, and I found the test well that was recently drilled. Later I contacted Ormat, the company interested in a new facility, to try to learn more about it. I found the investor relations person at Ormat and gave her a call. This area is known as Truckhaven Geothermal, and I found out that they are still deciding if they will move forward. She told me that they refer to it as a “prospect” not a “project” and if they were to move ahead with it, it could take up to four years to break ground. So right now, nothing officially says it is going to happen. We will keep checking and will let you know.

Painted Gorge Road
I drove down Painted Gorge Road in November and noticed a couple of spots that were difficult to pass because of the recent hurricane. Lots of people like to camp toward the end of the road and anything larger than a full-size truck would have a lot of trouble getting by. I was at a meeting with local OHV leadership and Neil Hamada from the BLM was there. When they asked if anyone knows of areas that could use maintenance, I mentioned Painted Gorge Road. Neil said yes, they know about it, but for them to grade the road they would need an archaeologist to look it over. The problem with that is their BLM office does not currently have an archaeologist on staff, in fact other nearby BLM offices don’t have any either. So, I asked if an outside group, like SDORC, could hire one to do the survey? Neil said yes and gave me a name of a firm that has done work for them in the past. So, I contacted them and asked for a quote. A week later I got a quote for over $11,000, a little too rich for our small nonprofit. I don’t blame the BLM for requiring the survey. That is required because of a federally legislated act. I called Neil to tell him about the quote and he said he would contact Imperial County to see if they could repair the road.

Plaster City Cleanup
SDORC is hosting a cleanup at Plaster City February 24. We will be meeting at Plaster City East, just a little west of Dunaway Road at 9:00am. We will have pickers, bags, snacks, drinks and some giveaways. If you love that part of the desert, help us show the BLM that we value it for off-road vehicle use. Hope to see you at the cleanup and at TDS Safari in Salton City on March 2.

Ed Stovin