I am very fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with a variety of stakeholders and interest groups who are committed to providing safe and responsible OHV recreation on public lands in California, whether in the SVRAs, other state park units that offer OHV opportunities, through the grants program, or the SNO-PARKs program.
Since my appointment as Deputy Director 7 ½ years ago, the program has made a number of advancements towards ensuring a sustainable program, which include:
- We overhauled the Grants and Cooperative Agreements Program to be more accountable, transparent and fair, and to comply with Office of Administrative Law standards.
- We streamlined the grant application process by creating an on-line application program, and recovered millions of dollars through improved auditing procedures.
- We increased accountability for expenditure of OHV trust funds, ensuring that expenditures are aligned with fulfilling the mission of the OHV program.
- We brought the focus of the program back to properly maintaining the areas where OHV recreation is provided, while at the same time ensuring sustainable long-term management practices were in place.
- We implemented a vastly improved wildlife habitat monitoring program, designed by UC Davis and peer reviewed by wildlife professionals that informs management actions.
- we increased focus on water and dust monitoring efforts, in accordance with the 2009 Division Strategic Plan, which will provide vital information to support better resource management.
- We created and implemented a new soil standard and guidelines, in partnership with federal and state agencies, that will have far-reaching effects on improving sustainability.
- A renewed focus on providing OHV safety programming is already showing positive results in our parks as well as on county and federal lands.
- We opened new OHV use areas with improved design principles that ensure sustainability while providing outstanding recreation.
- We closed and restored areas that were negatively impacting the environment.
Perhaps most significantly, in 2009, after intensive interaction and involvement from all communities of interest, we submitted our Strategic Plan to the Governor and the Legislature. This plan, which outlines a clear direction for the future, is based on the principles of sustainability, transparent decision-making, a commitment to working with volunteers and considering the needs and concerns of all our stakeholders, and sound data management to support informed decision-making. Many of you contributed to developing the Strategic Plan, and while there is still much to be done, it is something about we all can be proud. I leave knowing that the collective commitment to achieving the goals and objectives of the Strategic Plan will result in continuous improvements to the OHV program.
These accomplishments – and so many more – could not have been done without the involvement and support of all of you. Working for the Division is not just about having a job, but about a commitment to making a difference and the desire to contribute in a meaningful way. These are challenging and uncertain times, and only through the continued vigilance and active support of the community can the OHV program continue to meet its objective of providing for high-quality and sustainable OHV recreation in California.
Next year the Division will celebrate its 40th anniversary. In 1972, and now, the citizens of California recognize the importance of a well-managed program that provides OHV opportunities while protecting the environment. The work we do to provide responsible and sustainable OHV recreation is vital to maintaining California’s outstanding natural beauty. I can think of few goals that are so important.
As I make the transition back to the private sector, I do so with a much deeper appreciation for what it means to work in the public sector, serving the people of this state. It has been my honor to work with you in a program about which I care deeply.
California State Parks
Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Division