Off-Highway Vehicle Gas Tax Study Released

BAKERSFIELD, CA (December 22, 2006) —Wednesday California State Parks released a new Fuel Tax Study to update the amount of fuel consumed by OHVs to determine how much fuel tax should be credited to the OHV Fund. The study suggests cutting funding to the state’s OHV program by over 50 percent, in spite of the fact OHV recreation has increased significantly. Off-road recreation is enjoyed by a large number of families throughout California and has grown by more than 112 percent since 2001. Daphne Greene, Deputy Director of the State Parks’ Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation (OHMVR) Division said,The data suggests we cut the program funding by more than half at a time when off-highway vehicle recreation is growing significantly. We think a closer examination of this report and how we fund the program is needed before we take any action.

A similar study was done 1990 to determine to the amount of funding that would be transferred to the OHMVR Division. There have always been questions as to the validity of the data in that survey, particularly the large amount of vehicles it claimed were unregistered. Field studies have never supported the conclusions in the 1990 study about the high number of unregistered vehicles, as it determined that over two thirds of all OHVs are unregistered. This is a very important aspect of the study because tax funds from fuel consumed by unregistered vehicles are set aside in a special account to be used for only conservation, restoration and enforcement. The study released Wednesday verified what the OHV community always suspected, which was the number of unregistered vehicles is quite small. Interestingly, the study determined that the amount of fuel consumed by registered OHVs declined by about 40% even though the number of registered OHVs doubled. The conclusion of the study was that fuel tax revenue being transferred to the OHV Fund today is about double what is warranted.

While the fuel tax study sounds pretty grim on its face, the situation may be the catalyst for long term improvements to the program and OHV recreation opportunities in California. There have been many discussions among the OHV community and the California OHMVR Division about revamping the program to get back to the original intent of the enabling legislation, which is to enhance and increase OHV Recreation opportunities in a way that will sustain long term use. ORBA Executive Director Fred Wiley stated, “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. We know that there are other potential alternative strategies that may actually be very beneficial overall. Wiley went on to say, “We are cautiously optimistic that this study will be the first step towards a more positive future.

ORBA is a national trade association composed of off-road related businesses united to promote common goals that support the prosperity and growth of the off-road industry.