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August 11, 2016, Ontario Double Tree Hotel
Transformation of the Transformation Process
The terms “honest” and “genuine” have not been adjectives normally associated with leadership at the California State Parks Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR). This is especially true when it comes to how DPR has treated the OHV community over the last 30 years.
It has been my experience that self-proclaimed experts (often with an anti-OHV bias) at DPR decided what was best for the OHV program and then crafted a public process that would support a preordained outcome.
A chief concern of mine with the Transformation Team (TT) over the last few months is that it was just another process where government appointees with little substantive knowledge of the OHV program were following the traditional decision-tree at DPR.
After attending the August 11, 2016, TT meeting with OHV stakeholders in Ontario, California, my concerns about the future of the OHV program have been somewhat allayed by the precedent setting substantive engagement efforts of State Park Director, Lisa Mangat, and her management team.
Most impressive has been their willingness to acknowledge and address the institutional bias at DPR against OHV and other forms of active recreation. There is a reason why reference (photos, printed materials, etc.) to our nine State Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Areas (SVRAs) and riding opportunities on federal and non-state lands have been largely scrubbed or hidden from public view at the main agency website.
Over the last six weeks, I have seen a rather marked shift in the tone and direction of the TT’s narrative as it relates to potential recommendations for the OHV program. Because of their engagement with OHV leadership, partners, and other stakeholders they are beginning to understand the complex size and scope of the program and how it has become woven into the economic fabric of California.
Director Mangat said that no TT policy recommendations have been written yet and that it is critically important for OHV stakeholders to remain engaged with the process.
At this juncture, I believe the at-large OHV community should give them the benefit-of-the-doubt and continue to readily embrace this genuine effort by the agency to craft a plan that secures the future of our world-class OHV program.
Original author: Don Amador