Legislation update: #ReformOHV and SB249

California state vehicle recreation area

Uncontrolled riding yields a scarred landscape at a California State vehicle recreation area. Photo/Friends of Tesla Park

SB 249 is a bill introduced by Senator Ben Allen (Santa Monica) to repair, reduce and prevent Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) damage to California’s natural and cultural resources. (See the most recent July –September 2017 CNPS Bulletin for a complete report on SB 249.)

Following much debate and many amendments, SB 249 is nearing the end of the legislative process. It has passed out of Senate committees and the Senate floor and the Assembly Water, Parks, and Wildlife Committee. It is now pending in the Assembly Appropriations Committee prior to consideration of the full Assembly.

SB 249 focuses on three key areas for improvement:

Greater Environmental Protection – SB 249 improves transparency and clarifies commonsense steps to protect sensitive cultural and natural resources. The science of conservation continuously changes and managing OHV recreation needs to change with it.

Better Value for Our Dollars – The State Parks OHV Program enjoys a substantial 100% surplus ($117.5M in 2017/18) and yet illegal riding and resource damage continues to be a serious problem.  The State needs to do a better job enforcing laws and protecting resources on state, federal and private lands with the funding they have available.

Accountable Management – SB 249 clarifies State Parks organization and management to improve efficiency and transparency.

How You Can Help

SB 249 continues to face considerable resistance from opposition user groups and from the Department of Parks and Recreation. Additional amendments that weaken the legislation are a real possibility. Please make a phone call to your local Assembly member and ask him or her to support SB 249. Tell them you are a resident in their District and that the bill is needed to reform OHV recreation – protecting natural resources and recreational opportunities of all kinds – it is not a bill to destroy or stop legal riding. It is a win-win for California.