Forest and Watershed Geology Program - OHV Soil Guildelines Update


The California State Parks (CSP) has contracted with the California Department of Conservation’s (DOC) California Geological Survey (CGS) to update the 1991 Soil Conservation Guidelines/Standards for Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) Recreation Management (1991 Guidelines/Standards).



Soil Conservation Guidelines Report, 1991Pursuant to Public Resources Code (PRC) Section 5090.35 (b), CSP developed soil loss standards that were approved by the CSP Director in November 1991. Under this legislation, CSP was required “to adopt a generic soil loss standard…at least sufficient to allow rehabilitation of off-highway motor vehicle areas and trails.” The 1991 Guidelines/Standards were developed by an interagency committee of geologists, soil scientists, and hydrologists from CSP, DOC, U.S. Forest Service (USFS), U.S. Soil Conservation Service (now the Natural Resources Conservation Service, NRCS), and U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to apply to State-owned State Vehicular Recreation Areas (SVRAs). In 1992, legislation was enacted to expand the application of the 1991 Guidelines/Standards to lands that receive grant funding from the CSP OHV Program.


Mandates For Guidelines/Standards Revision

In 2004, PRC Section 5090.35 (b) was amended under AB2666 (Maldonado) to require CSP, in consultation with DOC, USFS, NRCS, BLM and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), to “update the 1991 Guidelines/Standards to establish a generic and measurable standard by March 1, 2006, at least sufficient to allow restoration of off-highway motor vehicle areas and trail."  CSP contracted with CGS to coordinate the revision of the 1991 Guidelines/Standards for different project types, both existing and new, to allow for sustainability of trail systems and recreation opportunities as well as to allow for restoration. The 1991 Guidelines/Standards will remain in effect until they are updated.

As part of the 1991 Guidelines/Standards update, CGS will be responsible for: (1) compiling a list and index map of published and digital data on geology and soils from all SVRA and grant-funded OHV areas; (2) testing proposed guideline revisions in three OHV areas, i.e., one SVRA, one BLM grantee area and one USFS grantee area; (3) revising the 1991 Guidelines/Standards into four volumes that address objectives, implementation and performance standards; and (4) conducting training for individuals responsible for implementation, monitoring and compliance with the Guidelines/Standards. A key part of the update is interaction with stakeholders, agencies and other interest groups through public workshops and a Consulting Agency Review Committee comprised of representatives from DOC, NRCS, USFS, BLM, USGS, and CSP.


Application of Guidelines/Standards

CPS provides management of the SVRAs and provides guidelines to local and federal agencies through the grant process of OHV-related activities. These activities include the development and management of public lands including roads, trails and open riding areas for all types of vehicles i.e., four-wheel drive, off-road motorcycles, all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) and snowmobiles. The updated Guidelines/Standards must provide sufficient flexibility to allow for application to all sites statewide, ecosystems with multiple soils types, and a variety of vehicle uses. The updated Guidelines/Standards will be used by CSP and grant recipients as a resource for land management and soil conservation.


Public Workshops

In order to obtain public input, the CGS and CSP conducted three public workshops regarding the effectiveness of the 1991 Guidelines/Standards. The workshops were held on October 4 in Sacramento, October 26 in Ontario, and November 6, 2004 in Sacramento. The purpose of the workshops was to receive comments and suggestions for improvements in developing revisions to the 1991 Guidelines/Standards. Participants were asked specifically to: (1) identify which Guidelines/Standards work well; (2) identify which Guidelines/Standards do not work well; and (3) make suggestions for improvements. At the end of the discussions, the issues were prioritized and presented to the whole group. Individuals were also encouraged to provide independent written comments. A summary of the workshops and the findings are available for download.


Next Steps

CGS will revise the existing Guidelines/Standards, taking public comments and field observations into consideration. Policy guidance and technical advice will also be obtained from the Consulting Agency Review Committee. The updated Guidelines/Standards will then be presented to the public. Additional public workshops will be held to receive feedback on the updated document. Revisions based on comments will then be presented to CSP.