On Monday, Senate Bill 402 related to the extension of a pilot program for the use of Off-Highway Vehicles on the Adventure Trails system in Inyo County unanimously passed out of the Senate Appropriations Committee. RCRC Chair Matt Kingsley (Inyo) was in Sacramento earlier this month to testify before the Senate Natural Resources Committee in support of the legislation.
Existing law allows local designation of combined-use (having non-registered vehicles such as “quads” and “ATVs”) roadways for up to three miles, per approval from the California Highway Patrol (CHP). In 2011, the Legislature enacted Assembly Bill 628 (Conway) which permitted Inyo County, with approval from the Board of Supervisors and the CHP, to allow combined-use designations for up to ten miles. Inyo County has unique circumstances that warrant this pilot project. Less than two percent of its ten thousand square miles is privately-owned and many of its nearly eighteen thousand residents use a OHVs as a common mode of transportation. In addition, Inyo County’s economy relies on tourism as it constitutes the largest financial contributor.
In 2016, the Legislature enacted Senate Bill 1345 (Berryhill) to continue the pilot until January 1, 2020. The current pilot, as authorized under both AB 628 and SB 1345, does not create new trails or roads and only speaks to converting existing public county roads for combined-use. The intent is to create a better network of trails by connecting recreational areas to motorist services. SB would simply continue a pilot project for Inyo County to better regulate, manage, and analyze their combined-use roadways with OHVs.