On January 26, 2007, EcoLogic Partners, Inc., the Off-Road Business Association (ORBA), the San Diego Off-Road Coalition (SDORC), the California Off-Road Vehicle Association (CORVA), the American Motorcyclists Association District 37 (AMA D37), and the American Sand Association (ASA) filed suit against the Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation (OHMVR) Commission alleging the commission acted in an arbitrary and capricious manner during its December 8-9, 2006 meeting when it rescored law enforcement grants without any evidentiary support for the new scores. Those actions resulted in decreased law enforcement funding for areas where many California families recreate.
The lawsuit specifically challenges the OHMVR Commissionís action to dramatically reduce the score of the law enforcement grant application submitted by Bureau of Land Managementís (BLM) El Centro field office. Despite receiving a score of 82 from Division staff, the BLM El Centro grant application was downgraded to a 69 by the Commission.
Although more than $10 million in law enforcement grant requests were submitted to the OHMVR Division, the Division was able to allocate only $4 million in law enforcement grants. Once The OHMVR Commission rescored the BLM El Centro law enforcement grant, the $4 million allocation was almost gone. BLM El Centro and another grant applicant with a score of 69 were vying for the remaining dollars. Rather than analyze the two applications on the merits, the OHMVR Commission simply tossed a coin! El Centro BLM won the coin toss and was awarded the remaining $387,349. Still, even this award was more than $1 million less than that recommended by OHMVR Division staff.
Recently the OHMVR division staff implemented a competitive grants process to ensure that the limited funds available are disbursed in a fair and equitable manner. By subverting that new process, the OHMVR Commissioners not only flouted the law, they placed in jeopardy the safety of the hundreds of thousands of people who visit the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area (ISDRA) each year.
The ISDRA, the area for which the El Centro BLM was requesting funds for, receives approximately 1.4 million visitors each year, the majority of which are families. OHV grants are a central component in providing law enforcement for this area which is one of the most heavily visited OHV areas in the entire nation. It is difficult to understand why the OHV Commission would substitute a game of chance for sound analysis and scoring of OHV grants for such a popular area, rather than the scoring criteria established in regulation they are legally mandated to use.