California’s Off-Highway Vehicle Trust Fund is in danger of losing up to $31 million. California’s Assembly Budget Subcommittee No. 3 on Resources and Transportation voted to raid the fund and transfer it to non-OHV related programs.
According to the Blue Ribbon Coalition, the OHV funds are slated to go to the Sustainable Parks Proposal, which is being championed by the California Parks Foundation, California State Senator Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto) and other “anti-OHV organizations.”
Don Amador, Western Representative of the Blue Ribbon Coalition, tells ATV.com the OHV Program was enacted into law in the early 1970s as a way to pay for OHV management on local, state, and federal lands. Before the law was enacted, riders got a state tax refund based on fuel use off-pavement. The law took that tax refund and created the OHV Trust Fund as a way to support sustainable OHV recreation into the future. About 10 percent of the OHV Trust Fund comes from OHV registration (e.g. green sticker/red sticker) and the rest comes from an off-road fuel taxes (paid while users recreate off-pavement) calculated formula based on user visitor days on public lands.
Amador says Assemblyman Jared Huffman (D-Petaluma) argued strongly in favor of the plan which he knows will directly impact destination OHV areas throughout the state including nearby units on the Mendocino and Six Rivers National Forests, the BLM Cow Mountain Recreation near Ukiah, and the BLM Samoa Dunes Recreation Area near Eureka. According to Amador, Assemblyman Brian Jones (R-Santee) was the lone voice on the committee that opposed the continued theft of trust funds monies.
“I am extremely disappointed that Mr. Huffman has apparently joined ranks with the anti-OHV community in their ongoing efforts to defund the OHV grants program via fiscal schemes such as the Sustainable Parks plan,” says Amador.
“After witnessing today’s vote, it is clear to me that urban legislators have made the conscious decision to engage in political warfare against rural interests, economies, and local elected officials. It also daylights the false promises made to special “user fee” programs (e.g. OHV, boating and waterways, special license plates, etc.) that their dedicated funds are protected. Rather, it points to the fact that those funds will be raided in perpetuity to help mitigate the legislature’s failure to substantively address the state’s fiscal crisis.