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 (pdf) 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.
  • Accountable Management - SB 249 clarifies State Parks organizational structure and guarantees transparency.
  • Better Value for Our Dollars - SB 249 seeks to ensure OHMVR grant funding for federal lands goes toward improved enforcement and restoration.

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

On July 11, the Assembly Committee on Water Parks and Wildlife voted to approve SB 249. Now the bill moves on to Appropriations and a full Assembly vote after legislators' summer recess. Here's how you can help in the meantime:

  1. Sign and share our petition on
  2. Visit your state assembly member's district office between July 21 and August 20 and ask him or her to support SB 249.
  3. Write Write your local assembly member asking for support of SB 249.
  4. Call your assembly member and ask for support of SB 249.

Look up your Assembly member 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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