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Copy of: ENN article that prompted N. Geographic OHV issue

Discussion in 'Land Use' started by mudfanatic, Dec 1, 2000.

  1. mudfanatic

    mudfanatic 1/2 ton status

    Feb 18, 2000
    Likes Received:
    Aloha, Oregon
    From: Donald C. Amador, 112531,1311
    TO: "Amador", INTERNET:brdon_a@sharetrails.org
    DATE: 11/29/00 4:22 PM

    RE: Copy of: ENN article that prompted N. Geographic OHV issue

    Dear OHV Interests,

    Here is the story that prompted the National Geographic award to Schambach
    and the attempt to give OHVers a black eye with an expose. Of course look
    who is
    the "bad" guy (me) for telling the truth about her report/efforts.


    Putting the brakes on OHVs

    Friday, July 14, 2000
    By Joshua Chaffin

    In her search for peace and quiet in the woods, a California woman has
    singlehandedly changed how the state regulates off-highway vehicle use.
    Karen Schambach moved to the Sierra Nevada foothills of California in 1984.
    Six months into the construction of her out-of-the-way cabin, the intrusive
    buzz of dirt-bikes startled her.

    Asking around to find out what authorities could do to keep the bikes out
    of earshot, Schambach learned that the state's Off-Highway Vehicle Division
    monitors off-road trails in California.

    Karen Schambach took action when the noise of off-highway vehicles
    shattered her peace. She monitors OHV damage across California, including
    the Sierra Nevada area of northern California.
    Convinced that the agency was delinquent in its enforcement of
    environmental regulations, Schambach began a 15-year battle to force the
    division to comply.

    Schambach delivered a scathing report to the state of California last year
    in which she alleged that the OHV division caused more environmental damage
    than it prevented - and that the agency may be getting more than its fair
    share of gas tax money from the state.

    In her report, Schambach argued the many off-road vehicle enthusiasts who
    worked in the OHV division rarely enforced environmental regulations.
    Moreover, she maintained, the regulations governing OHV use were unclear to
    the public.

    Schambach has since made more than a few enemies in her hometown of
    Georgetown. Resentful off-road vehicle enthusiasts have sent her
    threatening mail, buzzed her house with motorcycles and even showed up on
    her property with guns.

    But Schambach also found some sympathetic ears in state government.

    She contended that the OHV division used faulty logic to secure its funding
    - at taxpayers' expense. In theory, the sale of registration decals to
    off-highway vehicle recreationists was to fund the program. But, Schambach
    explains, "After only a year, they found the sticker money wasn't enough.
    >From then on, [the program received] 1 percent of the state gas tax - about
    35 million dollars a year."

    Schambach surveys the damage after a dirt bike endurance race in Eldorado
    National Forest of California's Sierra Nevada mountain range.
    Today, gasoline taxes fund 80 percent of the OHV program. But there are
    twice as many illegal off-highway vehicle users without stickers as there
    are registered users. And the division includes these users in the count it
    uses to argue for its portion of the gas tax.

    Schambach argues that this policy effectively rewards illegal off-highway
    vehicle enthusiasts for evading the law.

    No other group of recreationists in California gets $30 million a year, but
    no other sport supports an industry worth $5 billion annually. There are
    120 official off-highway recreation areas in California, with 100,000 miles
    of trail for sport driving. However, the more trail managers "maintain"
    those trails, the more they cause environmental damage, Schambach explains.

    Don Amador, one of the seven OHV division commissioners, defends the
    division as a "model program." Of Schambach's report, he says, "Almost
    every sentence has some sort of fabrication or lie in it."

    But even Dave Widell, the division's new deputy director, concedes the
    agency has always been "kind of controlled by the users" without enough
    input from environmentalists and homeowners.

    Schambach says Widell is making a difference. OHV program officials are
    rewriting environmental regulations with input from the public. Schambach
    hasn't seen all the reforms she asked for, but Widell says there is a new
    gas tax study in the works and that the commission will no longer be
    stacked with OHV enthusiasts.

    All indications show that OHV sports are managed more effectively in
    California, thanks in large part to Schambach's tenacity.

    Terry Davis of the Sierra Club is positively giddy about the turn of
    events. "I never thought I'd hear myself saying this ... but all of a
    sudden, they're listening to us!"

    <font color=red>get involved with land issues or lose the land</font color=red>

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