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San Bernardino National Forest Association

My comments in regards to the Restoration (G 11-04-02-R 01) as well as the Education & Safety (G 11-04-02-S 01) grants submitted by this group are as follows:

Restoration

This group is asking for green sticker funds to provide salaries to staff for their program when it seems no other group seeks anything even remotely resembling this.  A restoration Co-Coordinator to the tune of 48 thousand dollars a year seems quite outlandish in my opinion when they already have submitted requests to fund other staff over the years.  A 40-hour work week would come to an amount just shy of 2000 hours for a calendar year.  Therefore, why have they asked for 3000 plus hours for such a position?  How would this relate to overtime in regards to labor laws?   This does not add up.  What have we gotten for our money thus far?

A few simple questions were posed to the SBNFA OHV paid staff member in attendance by Mr. Waldheim at a grant seminar public forum held at the SBNF Supervisors Office just a few weeks ago.  This person seemed unprepared for those questions and left many in attendance scratching our heads with OHV program issues left unaddressed.  Other organizations submitting grants do far more with less of our money:  a fact supported by the content of every other grant submission posted to this public site.  The positions of education outreach coordinator and volunteer coordinator should be combined for a total of 30 hours a week as this would seem more sensible given the strained resource funds available for this year.

Volunteers have reportedly donated over 28 thousand hours over the last fiscal year.  Yet, the program is asking for our tax dollars to fund a restoration project in the amount of 640 thousand dollars.  Again, another submission that looks to be quite excessive when it seems the Adopt-A-Trail program volunteers does a great majority of these very same duties… and virtually at no cost to the green sticker funds as far as I can tell.  The volunteer hours submitted for the match appear to be inflated – quite possible that an audit is in order.

Education & Safety

In my opinion, this issue is of the most importance as with more proper education of the OHV public comes less resource damage… at least one would hope for as much. 
 
They state their program is open to the public yet there is no internet forum available to the general OHV public for sake of transparency.  This should be mandatory for any organization requesting public funds.  Otherwise, this should be deemed a private “members-only” club in the eyes of the OHMVR and not subject to receiving public funds for closed functions and/or meetings.  Are all members of the public welcome to their monthly “general membership” meeting?  The Adopt-A-Trail OHV has been practicing this aspect at their meetings thus far so this should be practiced in regards to this group as well.  Transparency should be a strong and lasting requirement.

A request for 18 thousand dollars for a mobile kiosk also seems far fetched.  After all, is this for education or recruitment?  This amount would be better served as going toward education in schools and other community area events.  Last year, a total of 24 visits to local schools had been submitted yet now that number has lessened to just over half of that (15).  Why the reduction in education?  Again, this should be paramount.

This brings me to the issue of 11 thousand dollars for mileage.  Why such an exorbitant figure has been submitted is beyond me.  Any other agency would be requesting 14 cents a mile so why do they feel worthy of 55 cents a mile?  Further, they are requesting 750 dollars for admission to trade shows and other promoter-sanctioned events.  I am currently involved with various off-road non-profits and our group has attended four shows which were also attended by the SBNFA plus four others they were not present for.  We have yet to pay a single dime for a group such as ours who promotes responsible off-road use and education.  Therefore, why the 750 dollars for six events?

In the categories of brochures and signs, there are requesting much more money than would ever seem prudent.  20 thousand dollars seems over the top for one calendar year.  Just last year, they did quite well with 8 thousand minus the match and did just fine by all accounts.  Simply place this information on line and let the public choose to print pertinent information as needed. 

In years past I have made strenuous attempts to show support for this applicant.  After thorough review of this application, I am sorry to say I am NOT in support of their full funding for either the restoration or the education & safety grants as submitted.

In closing, it must be noted that this group has, within its heart, the wish to do a world of good for my beloved San Bernardino National Forest off-road trail system.  They have demonstrated this factor to varying extents over the 15+ years of their existence.  Though the last year or so has seen a measurable lessoning of their member base and subsequent divergence from the intended message of its founders, they still manage to hold on.  This being said, the fact remains that our state has reduced the funds available in regards to the education category.  From 2.3 million to 1 million available funds for the entire state, this Grant applicant is asking for over 10% of the available funds.  Such provisions awards may deny others of much needed assistance.  I believe it would be best for the available funds to be shared more evenly throughout all the Grant applicants. [Drew Ashby - 4/2/12]


First, I would like to say I own 7+ green sticker vehicles that I renew every year without placing them into PNO status.  Further, I cotribute to the GS fund by way of my taxes collected from the fuel tax.  Being a self-described large contributor to the fund, I must make my opposition known to the funding of various questionable aspects of the SBNFA OHV Program.
 
I need to make it known that I have first-hand experience with the dealings, agenda and manner of operation of the OHV arm of the SBNFA as well as the SBNF.  Within the Restoration and Safety Grants, it shows this "private club" is asking for a lot money for staffing.  I find this quite troubling as they have shown themselves to be exclusionary and prohibitive when it comes to how they treat their own volunteers, let alone any who wish to re-join after a short absence.  Personally, I know of more than a few that have been told not to bother coming back as well as flat-out expelling members with no explanation as to why.  This is seen as disenfranchisement by myself and many others.
 
They exclaim that their volunteers do "patrols" and are the eyes & ears of the USFS.  It is a fact that they are discouraged from addressing the public if the public is doing something wrong and/or acting in a way that can damage natural resouces.  These patrols are merely "fun runs" and nothing more than a sight-seeing adventure for a vast majority that claim they are out contacting the public.  A "friendly wave" while traveling by 4x4, ATV or motorcycle, at any member of the public while out on a "patrol" denotes a virtual in-person verbal education in their eyes and they count this as such when applying for the much coveted "points" with regards to MY OHV funds.  SBNFA claims they "patrol" 5+ days a week when, by their own records, they log less 10 "patrols" a month.  This does not seem fair nor does it seem right.

A great majority, if not all, of the work that gets done within the OHV program is through the volunteer base.  Within the Restoration Grant. they are asking for funding for three additional positions, in addition to my GS fund payment to the Urban Conservation Core at $270,000 for the next three years for 90 days of work.  I thought this was what their Adopt-A-Trail Program was for.  Why don't they use the match to cover these expenses within the volunteers or better yet, have they looked into other off-road or other clubs that are experienced and already established for this type of work to come in and partner with them?  I am sorry to say that I do not support their Restoration Grant.
 
Now, as far as the Safety and Education Grant, I do not support this either for a number of reasons. The SBNFA is asking for more money again for employees where they should be using volunteers.  Such an action would cut the cost not only of salaries but also with reimbursable items (i.e. a car allowance).  Their staff currently has, at their disposal, access to USFS vehicles.  Why are those not being used instead of paying for mileage?  If the volunteers are taking care of these new positions, this would not be an issue either.  As a volunteer, they are "volunteering" their time and resources.  Why is the SBNFA asking for my tax dollars to fund employees of an organization that amounts to nothing more than a "private club"?  This question leaves me terribly vexed and perplexed.
 
Lastly, another item that stands out disturbingly is the signage on the trailer.  How can $18,000 be justified for a branding message?  I find this quite excessive as a normal wrap with logos should run no more than five to seven grand tops.  Where is the remaining eleven to thirteen grand going to be used and how?  They mention an outdoor sound system?  Good grief.  My largest concern is why I find nothing in their grant application that has anything remotely to do with educatiing the public about the need to stay on the designated trails.  One would think someone would ask for materials to better educate the program volunteers and/or the public then a branding message worth $18,000.
 
In closing, I thank those involved for taking the time to review my questions and comments.  Money should be allocated to those who use it properly and wisely. [James Haubner - 4/2/12]


Their numbers do not add up. Most of the work that gets done within the OHV program is through volunteer work. From the Restoration Grant they are asking for funding for three additional positions and they are also asking to fund the Urban Conservation Core at $270,000 for the next three years for 90 days of work!? Use the volunteers that is why they are there.

There is nothing in the Grant application that has to do with the education and safety  on the trails. And why are they paying for milage when the have access to Forest service vehicles? I do not support this Grant. Thank you for your consideration of my comments. [Julie Harris - 4/2/12]



This is my first time looking into these Grant applicants and with these two in particular(SBNFA Restoration & Safety and Education) I have a few questions.  First off, I am a lay person when it comes to these matters, but when something doesn't add up right it just doesn't add up no matter what kind of experience you have in the particular field.  In reading both the Restoration and Safety Grants, it appears they are asking for a lot money for staffing.  It was my understanding that most of the work that gets done within the OHV program is through volunteer work.  Within the Restoration Grant they are asking for funding for three additional positions and on top of that, they are also asking to fund the Urban Conservation Core at $270,000 for the next three years for 90 days of work.  Why don't they use the match to cover these expenses within the volunteers or better yet, have they looked into clubs that are already established for this type of work to come in and partner with them?  Something along the line of the Sierra Club, they are an environmentalist group heavy into restoration and protection. I do not support this Grant. 

Within the Safety and Education Grant I do not support this Grant either for a number of reasons; they are asking for more money again for employees where they should be using volunteers, this would cut the cost not only on salaries but also with reimbursable items within a car allowance.  The staff currently has access to "Forest service vehicles so why are those not being used instead of paying for mileage, or if the volunteers are taking care of these new positions this would not be an issue either, as a volunteer they are "volunteering" everything, i.e time and resources.  The other item that stands out the most is the signage on the trailer, $18,000 for a branding message?  This is quite excessive, a normal wrap with logo's etc. should run no more than $5-$7k total.  What is the other $11-$13k going to be used for?  The outdoor sound system?  My biggest concern is why is there nothing in the Grant application that really has to do with the education and safety of being on the trails, you would think someone would ask for materials, etc. to better educate the programs then a branding message worth $18k. Thank you for taking the time to review my questions and comments.  Money should be used properly, otherwise programs fail. [Cathy Viloria - 4/2/12]


San Bernardino National Forest Association Education & Safety grant is a mixed bag.  Some parts that raise an eyebrow are $11,100 for mileage at 55 cents per mile.  The non-profit amount recognized by the federal government is 14 cents per mile would put them at $2,800.   It says they handed out 18,000 maps in 8 months, possible, but at an average of 75 maps per day/every day seems a little high.  I believe that asking $18k for "Expenses requested will cover design and installation of interpretive panels and a graphic vehicle wrap."  is a little high also.  An Outdoor Video System for $2k seems a little high when a great TV can be had under $700.  $750 for trade show fees seems quite high.  While running a nonprofit myself, we always got into the Off-Road Expo for free.  I am sure you can save the $750  and beg your way in free as well.  Nevertheless, this organization intends to do good things for off-roading and should be funded as much as practicle. [Ed Stovin, CORVA - 4/1/12]

G 11-04-02-R 01   Restoration  G 11-04-02-S 01  Education
 
During our meeting we have discussed at length restoration projects and that there is still money available for more restoration.   My comments below on both grants at the same time because there seems to be a mixing of things here that do not add up.
 
Staff:    
Are we to believe that you have the coordinator on Restoration is 1440 hours  at $30 per hour and in the Education Safety grant you have  1  for $48,000 per year. (again Qty, Rate are not correct) Qty should be how many hours,  Rate should hourly rate, So if I take $48,000 divided it by the $30 hour rate that if 1600 hours.  So now add that to the restoration  you have 3040 hours for coordinator. Who is this person?    That seems excessive in any books.  We are talking about on the ground coordinating?
 
Volunteers, 28,000 that is a lot of volunteers,   yet you use the same volunteers on your Education grant . In any case as I made very clear at the meeting, it is a very high task to get 28,000 volunteers on one grant much less same amount on another grant?   What is the forest doing with their match what volunteers do they get?  We discussed this at the meeting and I did not get a good feeling at the meeting.  If you say you  are going to have that many volunteers, you must produce them, there is no way around this. I think your numbers are way to high.  
 
Restoration I wish there was a map to show exactly what you are going to restore for $640.090.  (in my restoration projects BLM has quadrants assigned to us to restore, In other words there is a big map of all areas) I did not see such a map for this.
 
I do not see a master map of the 400 miles of unauthorized OHV trails and 300 bicycle trails that are not authorized in the restoration master plan. You should ask for funds to get those trails out of the system before Forest Supervisor tells us, sorry, I can not  deal with all this unauthorized anymore, and we all loose.  It is the responsibility of management and partners to get the unauthorized use down to Zero.
 
G 11-04-02-S 01  Education & Safety 
 
Staff, coved above   but now you have OHV coordinator also 240 hours?   Who is doing this Rick? is there a schedule.?   
 
Materials.  
Signs  5 at $1000, what on earth could cost $1000 , where is the location of these signs showing it on a map , what is the picture like for the sign. Who puts it in the ground?   
 
Equipment.   
Mobil Education Kiosk,$18,000 frankly I have seen it, but the effectiveness of this is lost on me.   yes it looks nice, but there is no substitute for doing a Jr. Ranger program and get the kids in a circle and educate them,  I see to much money spends on trailer, and now $11,000 on mileage
 
It seems that we have lost our way in education, how many e mails have you collected from your customers, and how are you communicating with them?  We keep doing the same thing over and over again and expect different results. 
 
We have a forest with 400 miles of unauthorized OHV routes, and 300 on bicycle un authorized routes, what are doing about that?   How are we educate them to be on "Designated Trails"  
 
On a budget of 1,05 million from OHV for education, this seems high and possible deny other education programs. It needs some reductions. [Ed Waldheim - 4/1/12]

I am supporting the restoration grant here as I am supporting the restoration grants submitted by the San Bernardino National Forest, they go hand in hand with the management steps needed to provide the opening of more trials and the connection to the BLM system North of the Forest, the grants on the Forest service side are enjoying much support I just wanted to point out this is all part of the plan. As far as the Education grant I very much believe in Education but I feel under stress to cut expenses the OHV program is getting the short end of the stick, if Division don't want to fund two full time positions I would personally like to see two 30 hour positions with the possibility of both getting expanded 10 hours a week more by working them under the restoration grant part time. This way the Volunteers will feel more connected to the restoration part of OHV management, not just look at it as closing trails and would insure no problems in Volunteer hours needed for the match. Thanks for the opportunity to comment. [Tom Tammone - 4/1/12]


Evaluation Criteria for Grants and Cooperative Agreements Program

Below are my questions and concerns for information provided on the evaluation criteria form:

5. Project Performance- For Applicant’s OHV Grant Projects which reached the end of the Project performance period within the last two years, the percentage of all Deliverables accomplished:
           
It was filled in as 100% of deliverable accomplished, if this is true then why are they asking for another position? It seems they are seeking the same funding as last years Grant; and if so, they don’t need the other position.  Unless, they did not meet the 100%, if that is the case it should be marked less than 75% deliverable accomplished.

7.  Prevention of OHV trespass – Patrol (Page 2)
b.  The majority of OHV Opportunity areas are patrolled:

They checked at least 5 days per week but it should be at least once per week because the volunteers don’t go out 5 times a week, the forest service does but not the volunteers.  This is a grant application for the OHV program.

8. OHV Education – Education materials available onsite:


b. Applicant or Land Manager provides formal programs, education talks, school field trips, etc. to the public to educate them on safe and responsible OHV recreational practices.  Count only scheduled events; do not include routine visitor contacts:

They checked 50 or more per year, I question this because they only do 5 trade shows not 6 (can they provide a list of shows they’ve participated in?) Is the SBNFA’s dealer liaison program providing presentations to new OHV enthusiasts on a monthly basis? Is this another name for the General Membership meetings?  A more realistic and honest score would be 20 to 49 times per year.  Also, you need to take into consideration that they have lowered their On the Right Trail presentations from 24 (last year) to 15.

d. ATV Safety Institute and/or Motorcycle Safety Foundation approved training courses are provided to the public:

This is not open to the public and they should not be given a point.  You have to a member of the volunteer program or a forest service employee.

9. Website:
b. The Land Manager’s website contains the following items. 

My question is why isn’t this stated “applicant” instead of Land Manager?  And why does the applicant get the points if this information is not on their own website?  After all, they are applying for an education grant. 

In my opinion they should not get any points, I have been on their website and there is no educational content at all.  It is a PR fluff piece to get volunteers, but as a new rider there is no information for me to know how to be safe on the trails.  There are no links from the OHV Volunteer site to the Forest Service website where all this information is found i.e. maps, contact information, etc.

10. OHV Outreach
Check all forms of OHV outreach the Applicant uses.

They have marked radio; I would like to know what stations they purchased air time from.

13. Sound Level Testing – The Applicant or Land Manager conducts, or causes to be conducted, sound level testing.

Based on what they have marked (50% or more holidays and weekends) as I interpret this meaning, staff or volunteers are out every other weekend doing sound checks.  That would be 26 weeks per year.  25% would be once a month and seems more accurate, no points should be given.
 
Restoration Grant
 
Not in support of this Grant. 

1.) Staff:
Why is this Grant applicant asking to fund an OHV Patrol Volunteer Coordinator, Program Coordinator and a restoration coordinator?  It is my understanding that this was to be a restoration grant, but it reads more like an education and safety application.    Could this be considered as double dipping or misappropriation of government funds?

Why do they propose spending almost $270,000 to hire a UCC (Urban Conservation Corps) crew for three (3) months out of each year for the next three years, when they have this huge match from OHV volunteers?  I presume the OHV volunteers will be sharing or doing most of the work?  It has been my experience in the forest (recreational) and being a volunteer with the OHV program, that they do not normally do any restoration work.  The OHV and AAT volunteer programs were designed to do trail maintenance.

A better solution would be to use or rely on groups like Boy Scouts of America or Sierra Club to provide the labor and match for this grant.  Bottom line, it appears they are spending too much money on employees. 
 
Safety and Education Grant

Not in support of this Grant.  Based on the fact that state has reduced this category, from 2.3 million to 1 million available funds for the entire state, this Grant applicant is asking for over 10% of the available funds.  The available funds need to be shared more evenly throughout all the Grant applicants.  Below are my recommendations for this Grant applicant.

Staff:
Combine the Education Outreach Coordinator and OHV Program Coordinator position for a total of 30 hours per week.  Last year this applicant proposed 24 ORT presentations, this fiscal year they have decreased by half but they are asking for more money for less deliverables.  This is not a sound business practice and proper use of funds.  More money for less work?

Material and Supplies:

In the categories of Brochures and Signs, they seem redundant, there are printing costs associated with each category and it should be a bundled request not separated.  They are asking for more money then is actually needed, $20,500 seems quite excessive for printing needs for one year. Last year they were granted $8,000 minus the match and seemed to do just fine.  They are more then doubling the costs of last year this seems suspicious. Especially in today’s world of technology, they can put these materials on line and people can chose to print for themselves. 

With regards to the QR codes, most of the public does not use or have smart phones necessary to take advantage of QR code technology.  Secondly, the use of mobile phones in the forest is limited by lack of cell towers and mountainous terrain.

Equipment Use Expenses:

Other – Mileage Reimbursement- by combing the outreach and program coordinator positions the amount being requested can be reduced to approximately $3k.  Or use a monthly stipend of $100 per month for travel; this would require the employee to keep track of his/her mileage and receipts for gas. (The volunteers do not receive reimbursement or a stipend for their gas/mileage). Also, they have access to Forest Service vehicles to travel from the office which would reduce they amount they are requesting. 
 
Equipment Purchase:

Other-Mobile Education Kiosk – It is my understanding in reading this section that they are requesting $18,000 for a branding message.  My first concern is how many bids were requested for this wrap?  This seems quite excessive and a waste of money.  Is there a breakdown on costs that can be shown why a branding wrap and panels would cost $18k?  Most of the volunteers cannot use this trailer it is 22’ long and most do not have a truck (you have to have trailer brakes on your truck to tow the trailer safely) for the trailer.  Lastly, to take it off road where it is needed it will tear up the trailer.  Why are you spending money on something that realistically can not be used in the manner they are suggesting?

Other – Outdoor Video System – unless you have an awning over the area where the presentation is being shown you cannot see what is being displayed while the sun is shining.  Who would be watching TV at a staging area, they would be out riding.  Systems like this need a generator, set up and take down, and are delicate, not conducive with off-road travel.  Furthermore, what is the message to be conveyed on this? And where is the funding for this?  Is this a branding message or education? 

For an education and safety grant there is not much being asked for on either point; education or safety.  This is a fluff piece grant and the money should be used to further educate the public on safety. [Dale Johnson - 3/31/12]