We Are OHV: the California OHMVR Program
In 1971, the Chappie-Z’berg Act established the California Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Program that has successfully provided for a self-funded, high-quality OHV recreation program. The OHV community has supported directing funds to law enforcement, education programs emphasizing safe and responsible vehicle operation, conservation efforts, and closure and restoration of OHV areas.
The OHV community supports the concept of managed recreation and believes it is prudent and appropriate to identify areas for off-highway vehicle use such as the State Vehicle Recreation Areas and designated trail systems on ands managed by Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management. Recreation, especially recreation off of paved or gravel roads, is the leading growth in visitors to public lands.
In 2008, the OHV community supported doubling their OHV registration fees in order to ensure needed funding to support OHV recreation. The support was based on assurances that OHMVR Trust Funds were being placed in a “trust”; a fund which can only be used for OHV purposes. That legislation, SB-742, passed by an almost unanimous vote in both the Assembly and Senate.
California State Parks and the Off Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Program are an important part of our focus. While the viability of a State Parks program overall is important as it serves a wide variety of interests, it is just a component of the recreation opportunity desired by state residents and out-of-sate visitors.
The OHMVR program is an important (core) part of a state recreation program as it focuses on the partnerships with federal agencies and local governments to provide for a recreation opportunity. Along with the State Vehicle Recreation Areas, the OHMVR Grants program provides for recreation opportunity for state residents and out of state visitors. That is a significant economic driver that helps support rural communities in their struggle to survive.
The OHV program receives no support from the State’s General Fund. It is funded solely by user fees deposited in the OHMVR Trust Fund. OHMVR Trust Funds are derived from fuel taxes paid on gasoline used while recreating off-highway, registration fees on off-highway vehicles, and gate fees collected at the SVRA’s.
The state OHV program is a “pay to play” program, supported by funds derived from the very people who use the resource. This includes both those engaging in OHV recreation, and those using OHV routes maintained by the program to access other types of non-motorized recreation.
As the popularity (and growth) of off-road recreation continues, the OHMVR program becomes more important. The main focus of the OHV community is to protect, promote, and provide for OHV recreation opportunities. Our members are directly affected by legislation and management decisions concerning public land use and the health of the State Parks program, especially the OHMVR Division. Motorized and non-motorized recreation opportunities receive a benefit from the program; along with counties throughout the state.