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AZ State Parks / OHV Program - September eNewsletter

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Dear OHV Enthusiast,

 

During the past few months you have been reading my chairman’s reports with distaste on several issues the OHV Community has been having with State Parks in handling the OHV Funding. I feel that as a result of these letters we were finally able to sit down with the new State Parks Director, Bryan Martyn, and discuss most of these issues. Now with this month’s Chairman’s report I am pleased to report that the relationship with State Parks has vastly improved. After our lengthily discussion, both your Off Highway Vehicle representatives as well as the SP Director agreed to give this new direction six months then reevaluate the situation. I am personally optimistic that the situation will improve. I would like to thank Mr. Martyn in his effort to bring both sides together in order to benefit the OHV Community.

 

One situation that does disturb me however is the addition of a group called AORCC to our grant rating process. AORCC stands for “Arizona Outdoor Recreation Coordinating Commission”. It is made up of seven members; by statute two members must be the Director of AZ State Parks and the Director of AZ Game and Fish. The remaining five members are appointed by the Governor to three-year terms. Three must be professional full-time Parks and Recreation Department Directors of a county, city or town, and two must be members of the general public with broad experience in outdoor recreation. The big problem I have with this is the OHV Community now only has one third say on how our Off-Highway Vehicle Communities “OHV Sticker Fund” which is supposed to be a “User Pay/User Benefit” program for Off Highway Vehicle recreation is being spent. With the addition of AORCC along with State Parks Staff we have now added two non OHV motorized groups into the equation allowing them to have as much say on how the funds are to be spent as your Off Highway Vehicle representatives have. Unlike your Off-Highway Vehicle representatives, whom represent the OHV Community and belong to organized OHV Clubs, this AORCC group is made up of a group of representatives whom get appointed by the Governor because of various reasons such as how much they contribute to her campaign. This opens the door for environmentalists and other interest groups to enter into the equation and have a say so on how your OHV funding is spent.

In addition to this instead of State Parks Staff just having an assistance roll they also have one third say on how our projects funding is to be spent. Keep in mind that they already receive over 10% of their entire operating budget from the OHV Community without any input from the OHV Community on how they are to use this funding.

 

Another issue I have with these additions is that I feel it is ethically wrong for the State Parks Director to be sitting on the AORCC rating panel. This Director is also in charge of the State Parks Staff that has another one third vote on our projects funding. It is also ethically wrong for the Director of Game and Fish that is the head of an organization whom frequently applies for OHV project funding to sit on a panel that has one third vote on where your OHV funding goes.

 

The final issue I have with this new structure is an issue I have had from the beginning and that is that I feel it is ethically wrong that the State Land Commissioner sits on the State Parks Board of Directors. This board has the final decision on our OHV Project funding. The State Land Department not only revives 5% of all OHV dollars it also frequently applies for OHV project funding. So what it amounts to is we have the person applying for the funding making decisions on our project funding is spent.

 

I realize that like your State Parks Off-Highway Vehicle Advisory Group representatives, the members of AORCC and the State Land Department Director are professionals and would try to be fair in the decision making process. My concern however is exactly what knowledge does these AORCC members have on the enormous amount of trails and mitigation decisions the OHV Community has around the State. It is one thing for us to just receive recommendations from this group and another for them to have just as much input on the final decision being presented to the State Parks Board as we do.

 

Again please don’t take this out on the new State Parks Director. These rules were put into place long before he came on board although weren’t acted upon. He is just trying to adhere to these rules while getting his house in order.

 

On a different note, we have finally come to an agreement on our new grant rating form. This form will now be put into a grant manual to be sent out to all the agencies and interested parties. In this grant package there is a list of who, where and what on how to apply for some of these OHV motorized funding. I encourage you to get with your local agencies and non-profit groups that are interested in improving OHV Trails around the State. Remember this is a “User Pay/User Benefit” program.

 

Respectfully,

 

John Savino, Chairman

AZ State Parks Off-Highway Vehicle Advisory Group

showlowjohn@aol.com

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