California Native Plant Society

SB 249 – Off-Highway Vehicle Modernization and Reform

OHV use causes environmental degradation in Alameda County.OHV use causes ongoing and severe environmental degradation like the erosion gullies seen here in Alameda County. View larger

Illegal riders often encroach on protected areas like this one in Inyo County.Illegal riders often encroach on protected areas like this one in Inyo County. view larger

Any form of outdoor recreation can cause environmental degradation: hiking, camping, fishing, and off-roading. But off-highway vehicle (OHV) activity in particular causes ongoing and severe environmental degradation. The longer an area is used the damage multiplies. These realities make it essential that OHV users adhere to laws designed to protect our natural resources. Unfortunately abuse is flagrant and enforcement weak, all while California's OHV parks continue to expand.

Today, damage from OHVs is outpacing California's ability to repair and monitor the impacts on our natural resources. That's why CNPS and its coalition partners helped launch this year's Off-Highway Vehicle Modernization and Reform legislation. California State Senator Ben Allen is sponsoring SB 249, a bill created to address the problem in three ways:

  • Greater Environmental Protection - SB 249 creates improved transparency and implementation of commonsense measures to protect our sensitive cultural and natural resources.
  • Fuel Tax Revisions - Did you know that every time you pump gas a portion of that goes to fund off-road recreation whether you participate or not? SBĀ  249 addresses this by ensuring that a portion of our fuel taxes go to support all forms of outdoor recreation, both motorized and unmotorized activities like hiking, kayaking, and camping.
  • Balanced, Accountable Management - SB 249 ensures a greater balance of viewpoints in California State Park OHV administration and clarifies the relationship between OHMVR decision-makers and the State Parks Director as part of a cohesive Department of Parks & Recreation.

CNPS believes that everyone has a right to recreate in our beautiful wild spaces, but nobody has a right to destroy them.

How You Can Help

The California State Senate will vote on SB 249 in June. You can help in a number of ways:

  1. Visit your state senator's district office and ask him or her to support SB 249.
  2. Write your state senator asking for support of SB 249.
  3. Call your state Senator's district office and ask them to support SB 249.

Look up your State Senator here.

More on SB 249

In February, State Senator Ben Allen introduced SB 249, a bill to reform and modernize the Off Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation (OHMVR) Division of California State Parks. CNPS, in conjunction with a coalition of environmental organizations, helped draft the bill, which seeks stronger protection for state park natural and cultural resources along with greater accountability for the OHMVR Division.


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