There are three pieces of legislation (2 federal and 1 state) that will be of benefit to OHV recreation. Two of the bills have passed their first hurdle - they have received a committee hearing and been reported out favorable. There are still a number of obstacles that could derail these bills.
For a little review, a bill becomes law when it is reviewed and passed by the House and Senate and sent to the president for signature (or veto). For example, look at H.R. 1676, To designate the Johnson Valley National Off-Highway Vehicle Recreation Area.
The bill was read before the House Subcommittee on Natural Resources and passed. In other words, if this were a baseball game, that is equivalent to getting a base hit with the runner now on first base.
The runner (bill) still needs to round all the bases and cross home plate before it is a score. The next step, moving to second base, is the entire House of Representatives passing the bill. To advance the runner to third base, the U.S. Senate must hold a committee hearing. To advance to home, the Senate needs to pass the bill.
To cross home plate and score, the president needs to sign the bill into law.
The process is similar for both State and Federal legislation. Each bill faces challenges that can knock it out. However, getting to first base, or past the first committee is the important win. And, the game is not over until the Congressional session ends in December 2014. At that point, hopefully there will be final legislation.
USMC Johnson Valley Acquisition: As noted, H.R. 1676 seeks to designate Johnson Valley as a National Off-Highway Vehicle Recreation Area. Legislation has been submitted and passed its first hurdle - the committee hearing. This legislation will be attached to the Defense Appropriations bill which congress must pass prior to the new fiscal year. Within that construct, the saga could be settled between September and December of 2013.
SB 234 - Recreational Off-Highway Vehicle Bill: Like H.R. 1676, this bill has passed its first hurdle in the California State Senate. There is a high probability this will reach the Governor’s desk for signature this summer.
Clear Creek Management Area: BLM has released their decision on the Clear Creek Management Area which is continued exclusion of OHV recreation. In the last Congressional session, Representative Sam Farr introduced legislation to re-open Clear Creek as a National Recreation Area supporting OHV opportunity.
That legislation has been re-introduced as H.R. 1776 as the Clear Creek National Recreation Area and Conservation Act, to direct the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to reopen the 75,000 acre Clear Creek Management Area (CCMA) in San Benito and Fresno counties for recreational use, including access for off-road vehicles. Additionally, the legislation would designate approximately 21,000 acres of BLM land adjacent to Clear Creek as the Joaquin Rocks Wilderness.
This bill is co-sponsored by Congressmen Valadao and Denham and is supported by the San Benito County local governments. While this bill has been introduced, it has not been scheduled for a committee hearing.
Oceano Dunes SVRA: On April 27, California State Parks Director Jackson toured the Oceano Dunes SVRA and adjoining state park. I attended a meet-and-greet hosted by Fin’s Restaurant in Grover Beach. The meet and greet was well attended with local CA4WDC member clubs.
On a personal note, I have finished moving my parents into assisted living where someone can prepare their meals and ensure they take correct medications on schedule. I am happy to report they are adjusting well and their health has improved with the move.