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California OHV funding in question – January 22, 2007

January 22, 2007
Filed under Features

A major funding source for the Off-Highway Vehicle Recreation Program in California is suddenly in question.
And surprisingly, that may not be a bad thing for state ATV riders.
The state’s Department of Parks and Recreation recently criticized a survey that was supposed to be used to determine the level of funding for a major portion of the OHV program.
The State Fuel Tax Study determined the amount of fuel consumed by registered OHVs declined by about 40 percent compared to a similar survey taken in 1990. Because of that decline, the survey called for OHV program funding from the state’s fuel tax to be reduced by more than 50 percent, to $27.1 million from $56.8 million.
The survey’s findings, however, contradict a number of state statistics that show heightened OHV use by the public, including:

  • annual state registration for nonstreet-licensed vehicles has increased 112 percent since 2001;
  • going back further, from 1980 to 2006, the nonstreet-licensed vehicle registration increase was 331 percent;
  • visitation at the state’s vehicle recreation areas has increased 135 percent to 5.4 million from 2001-’05.
    “The data suggests we cut the program funding by more than half at a time when off-highway vehicle recreation is growing significantly,” Daphne Greene, deputy director of the state Department of Parks and Recreation’s Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Division said in a press release. “We think a closer examination of this report and how we fund the program is needed before we take any action.”
    In fact, the state said in its press release that state has concluded that a comprehensive evaluation of the basic methodology for how the program is funded in the first place should be undertaken. The first step in that process is a meeting planned for February.
    That, industry experts believe, could be a good thing for OHV users.
    “We look forward to turning what appears to be a lemon into lemonade, as this study means we must make some significant changes in how OHV recreation is funded,” Off-Road Business Association Executive Director Fred Wiley said in a released statement.
    “We know that there are other potential alternative strategies that may actually be very beneficial overall,” he said. “We are cautiously optimistic that this study will be the first step toward a more positive future.”
    The survey data in question was obtained from phone surveys of 15,000 randomly selected California households from July to December 2003 and written diaries kept by state vehicle owners from April 2004 to March 2005. psb

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