AirTalk for July 30, 2012

Missing state parks money turns up in off-road fund

California State Parks

Leo Reynolds/flickr

CA State Parks have put aside millions of dollars to manage land for off-road vehicle use.

The storm swirling around California’s state parks system has now moved off-road. Why? Because last week, a little more than half of the $54 million in missing state parks money mysteriously showed up in a special fund set aside to manage land designated for off-road vehicle use.

So far, nobody in the state parks department can explain how the money got there, and its director has resigned. But the discovery has caused a flare-up in the long-standing battle between off-roaders and conservationists.

Devotees of the off-road vehicle experience say the money is necessary to maintain trails and enforce conservation guidelines, and without it, off-road areas would deteriorate. Hikers, birdwatchers and others who prefer their wildlife experience sans gas-powered vehicles maintain that ORV users present a threat to pristine parklands and that not enough of the Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Fund is being put towards conservation.

Minus the surplus, the OHMV fund, which comes from registration fees, park admission and a portion of the gasoline tax, amounts to about $100 million.

Should some of that money be allocated to other state park departments? Is the off-road community doing enough to maintain stewardship of their parks? Now that the missing millions have been found, will California’s state parks stay open?

Guests:

Amy Granat, managing director of the California Off-Road Vehicle Association

Karen Schambach, Field Director of California Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER)


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