Legislators in California have passed two bills that extend the state's nationally renowned off-highway vehicle recreation program.
The bills will provide increased stability for the program's future.
The first bill, S.B. 249 extends the operation of the California Off Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Program indefinitely, eliminating a provision that historically had required periodic reauthorization and making the program permanent within state parks. S.B. 159 provides funding for the program. Without these key pieces of legislation, the program would have ended on December 31st this year.
The American Motorcyclist Association was part of a broad coalition that defended the OHV program against opponents who sought its demise. The group worked with legislators for months to rework the originally introduced version of S.B. 249 into an acceptable piece of legislation.
The bills now go to Gov. Jerry Brown, who has until Oct. 15 to sign them into law.
"The California OHV program is a model for the nation," said AMA Western States Representative Nick Haris. "In its original form, S.B. 249 would have dismantled decades of work and ended the most important parts of this critical program. Our revisions provide quality, sustainable, family oriented recreation for citizens and visitors, emphasize environmental sustainability and protection and public safety and include partnerships with federal government agencies that provide OHV opportunities."
The Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Program was created in 1971 out of the critical need to better manage growing demands for off-highway recreation, while at the same time foster respect for private property rights and protect California's natural and cultural resources. Today, this program, a division of the California Department of Parks and Recreation, is the largest and most successful program of its type in the U.S. The program continues its commitment to provide safe, enjoyable recreation while balancing the need to protect the state's resources.
In addition to providing accessibility to off-highway recreation for everyone from hikers to bikers to bird watchers, the program provides a variety of services and benefits to California's residents and visitors, including resource management of state lands, wildlife habitat protection, youth development and law enforcement.
Program funding comes from fuel taxes which are attributable to the recreational use of vehicles off highway, off-highway vehicle registration fees and fees collected at State Vehicular Recreation Areas.