California State Parks, Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Division, Rejects Grants Approved By Commission, Alleges Commission Violated Rules Governing Competitive Grant Process

SANTEE, CALIFORNIA (February 6, 2006) ¿On January 26, 2006, Daphne Greene, Deputy Director, of the Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Division (OHMVR), issued a memo to the OHMVR Commission stating that at its meeting of December 8-10, 2005, the Commission had improperly rescored certain grant applications and cooperative agreements, and that the Division, therefore, would not be funding the grants and cooperative agreements in question.  According to Ms. Greene’s memo, Division had reviewed the transcripts from the December 2005 meeting and determined that the Commission, in rescoring the grants and cooperative agreements, had failed to apply the “competitive grant” evaluation criteria required by OHMVR regulation.

The Division is charged with implementing the competitive rules established to ensure grants and cooperative agreements provide sufficient benefit to the OHV community. Since the Commission’s actions were not consistent with these competitive rules, Ms. Greene concluded that the Division has no legal authority to fund the grants and enter into the agreements in question.

Deputy Director Greene’s memo lends support to the lawsuit filed on January 27th by EcoLogic and its co-plaintiffs —the Off-Road Business Association (ORBA), the San Diego Off-Road Coalition (SDORC), the California Off-Road Vehicle Association (CORVA), the American Sand Association (ASA) and the American Motorcyclist Association, District — alleging the OHMVR Commission violated California law when it denied a number of grants that had been recommended by the OHMVR Division and would have provided benefits to the OHV community, even though no new information or testimony was presented to support the denials.  The Commission also chose to approve some grants that would close roads and trails permanently, even though Division staff had determined that the projects did not merit funding.  In both of these circumstances, the Commission’s actions were arbitrary and capricious and not supported by evidence in the record, as required by statute.

At that same meeting, the OHMVR Commission adopted a controversial policy with regard to desert riparian areas without consulting with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), which manages the majority of areas covered by the policy. In a memo dated January 25, 2006, Mike Poole, head of BLM’s California office, stated that he would have appreciated an opportunity to review such a significant and far reaching policy prior to its adoption. He also requested that the Commission reconsider this policy and allow the BLM, the public, and all affected parties to provide input as required by state law.