Editor’s note: – in May 2012 we first posted this information about the real source of OHMVR Division funding. This is an update of that post to add to and further specify the truth about State funding for OHV use in California.
It is often said that “we”, mind meaning the OHV (Off-Highway Vehicle) users at State Parks such as Carnegie State Vehicular Recreation Areas (SVRA), purchased the Tesla Park land. This statement is misleading and inaccurate.
In 1997/1998, the period during which most of the Tesla property was purchased, 79% of the OHMVR Division Budget, was from Fuel Tax Transfers. The other 21% of the budget was made up of park entrance fees, green sticker fees and miscellaneous other state contributions. Green stickers are the special DMV registration program for motorcycles and All Terrain Vehicles (ATVs) that can legally use SVRAs.
The amount of the Fuel Tax Transfer was based on a 1990 study and Department of Finance analysis which included estimates of all 4-Wheel Drive (4WD) and 2-Wheel Drive (2WD) vehicles, legal and illegal ORV vehicles and miles driven on dirt roads in the formula. A 1999 analysis of the Fuel Tax Transfers showed that only 9% of the fuel tax transfers were actually attributable to legal green sticker vehicles eligible to use SVRAs such as Carnegie SVRA. This information is documented in California Off-Highway Vehicles: In the Money and Out of Control (1).
This was the general composition of the OHMVR Division budget until 2008 when new legislation (SB 742) reauthorizing the OHMVR Division approved the doubling of sticker fees. Today the OHMV Budget is about 69% Fuel Tax Transfers and 24% park entrance fees and green sticker fees and 7% miscellaneous other state contributions. In 2006, a new Fuel Tax Transfer study was conducted that found that that only 13.3% of the fuel tax transfers were attributable to legal green sticker vehicles eligible to use State Vehicular Recreation Areas such as Carnegie SVRA and over 82% was for street legal 4WD and 2WD vehicles driving on dirt roads for all recreation purposes. In addition to the vast majority of fuel tax transfers being attributable to street legal vehicles, nearly 50% of the use was specifically for non-OHV uses such as camping, picnicking, fishing and hiking. The State 2006 study also determined that the Fuel Tax Transfers to the OHMVR Division were actually 2 TIMES as much as they should be based upon actual dirt road recreation use, not considering the fact that nearly 50% was that dirt road use was for non-OHV use. Unfortunately, the 2008 reauthorization bill did not change the OHMVR Division funding methodology and they continue to receive over double the amount of public tax dollars that can objectively be attributable to actual OHV use. This information can be found in the 2011 State OHMV Commission Report (2) and 2006 Fuel Tax Survey (3).
It is misleading and inaccurate to state that OHV users paid for the Tesla Park land. The general recreation public paid for the vast majority of Tesla Park. The OHMVR Division and OHV users have successfully lobbied the State legislature to misdirect a large portion of Fuel Tax Transfers to OHV use parks that no other State Park has. OHV use is defined as broadly as possible to collect the maximum amount of public tax dollars into the OHMVR Division and then redefined as narrowly as possible to establish that those tax dollars can only be spent for the type of ORV use that occurs at places such as Carnegie SVRA.
OHV users did not exclusively pay for Tesla Park – all drivers and recreation users that purchase gas in the State of California paid for the vast majority of Tesla Park. Because Tesla Park is public state park land, it is important that we ask ?what is the best public use for this historically and culturally significant, biologically diverse and unique and wonderfully scenic park land?
The answer is unquestionably, not as expansion of Carnegie SVRA as an Off-Highway Vehicle park.
(1) The report California Off-Highway Vehicles: In the Money and Out of Control can be found on the Center for Sierra Nevada Conservation at http://www.sierranevadaconservation.org/Travel%20Management/OHV%20report%20699.pdf