Southern California Mountains Foundation
Education and Safety OHV grant proposal - In the past, my OHV recreating has benefited from the work of this organization and fruits of former years grants that appear to be continued under this proposal.
Under direct expenses #3 materials-supplies/ signs: This entry needs to be further explained. If it relates to signing OHV routes it appears to be too low considering the current state of route signage on the forest. All types of signs, but especially route signs, on the forest appear to suffer a lot of abuse, especially from recreational shooters. [CT Alderson - 3/30/13]
Cleghorn Unauthorized Route restoration - I liked the narrow focus of this proposal.
I did not like the the use of acronyms and jargon in the item explanations. They made it difficult to understand some portions of the proposal. I am reasonable knowledgeable of the forest and the processes under discussion, but had to track down the meanings of several entries.
Under the direct expenses/ staff item: The notes do not appear to address this entry. The correct notes should be entered and the erroneous notes placed where they were intended to go. [CT Alderson - 3/30/13]
Comments, concerns, concurrance & expostulation regarding Restoration (G 12-04-02-R 01) as well as Education & Safety (G 12-04-02-S 01) grants submitted by this group are as follows:
Last year, this club asked for (and was awarded) upwards of $640,000 of MY green sticker funds to, in part, provide salaries to staff for their program when it seems no other group seeks anything even remotely resembling this. This year, they are once again requesting ANOTHER heaping portion to the tune of just over $330,000 of MY green sticker funds. Last year, a restoration Co-Coordinator stipend was requested within the grant to the tune of 48 thousand dollars a year. Have they asked for this once again within this year's submission? Sure 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. I, among others, have to question just what have we gotten for our money thus far from this club?
In all, 26 other non-profits are submitting their applications totaling $958,303 and of that, SCMF is requesting over 1/3 of that? Why such an emphasis on utilizing public funds for permantly closing trails when they claim their OHV program has, at it's heart, the mission of keeping trails open and promoting OHV opportunities? Could it be that they have found their "cash cow", so to speak?
About a month ago, a few simple questions were posed to the SCMF-OHV paid staff member in attendance by Mr. Waldheim at a grant seminar public forum held at the SBNF Supervisors Office. This person seemed unprepared for those questions and left some issues 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 (or should I say allegedly) donated over 28 thousand hours over the fiscal year for the 2011/2012 grant. This year, those numbers have dwindled down to 12,640 hours. A problem with motivation from leadership, perhaps? Yet, the program is asking for our tax dollars to fund a restoration project in the amount of 330 thousand dollars. Once 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 another audit is in order.
Education & Safety
This issue is of the utmost importance as with more proper education of the OHV public comes less resource damage… at least one would hope for as much.
The SCMF-OHV "Club" states 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.
Last year, they requested 18 thousand dollars for a mobile kiosk. I, among many others, have yet to see this "enclosed trailer" on ANY of the various OHV staging areas within the forest, not to mention ANY of the various shows throughout the year. One must truly ponder if this "public funded tool" is this for education or RECRUITMENT? This amount would be better served as going toward education in schools and other community area events. Two years ago, a total of 24 visits to local schools had been submitted. Last year, that number has lessened to just over half of that (15). How much will this number come down this year? Why the reduction in education? Again, this should be paramount. Does the person performing the education to student have credentials and/or certification for doing such?
This brings me to the issue of 10,700 dollars for mileage. This breaks down to about $40 A DAY for alleged use of their personal vehicle. 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? Last year, they requested 750 dollars for admission to trade shows and other promoter-sanctioned events. This year, it's doubled to $1500 of MY funds. I am currently involved with various off-road non-profits and our group has attended 4 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 1500 dollars for these events?
In the categories of brochures and signs, there are requesting much more money than would ever seem prudent. 18 thousand dollars seems over the top for one calendar year. Two years ago, they did quite well with 8 thousand minus the match. Last year, they requested $20,000 and were granted the full amount. Do they feel they have "struck gold", so to speak? Seems quite excessive and greedy, to be honest. Simply place this information on line and let the public choose to print pertinent information as needed.
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 some volunteers within this group have, within their heart, the wish to do a world of good for my beloved San Bernardino National Forest off-road trail system. Some have demonstrated this factor to varying extents over the 20 years of their existence. Though the last few years, there has been a measurable lessoning of their member base and subsequent divergence from the intended message of its founders. This being said, the fact remains that our state has reduced the funds available in regards to the education category. Last year, this Grant applicant asked for over 10% of the available funds. This year sees less but most likely because much less is available. Such awards to this "club" 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. [Dan S. - 4/1/13]
I own over 9 (nine) green sticker and/or "dual-registration" 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 SCMF 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 SCMF 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. SCMF 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 a $300,000 plus project on Cleghorn Road. 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 SCMF 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 SCMF 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.
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.
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. I am not in support of this grant. [Dan Simmerman - 4/1/13]
Not in support of this grant! Below are my concerns;
• Conduct ORT presentations to whom? Most of these kids don’t participate in this form of recreation. Who is the instructor that preforms these presentation? Do they have a teaching credential, college educated with a degree?
• Where are these monthly kiosks? How do you find where and when they will be held? Is this some type of secretive check point?
• How is the public informed on shows that will be attended? All of the NON-profits that I know attend these shows at no cost! This group should work/ask to have the fees waived.
• Conduct 5 education runs per month, is that by the paid employee or volunteers. Since we’re paying for this service, this should be performed/led by the paid coordinator!
• Conduct 8 meetings, why is the public not mentioned or is purposely left out?
• The maps that I have seen have mistakes, why print more?
• Why has this non-profit changed its name three times over the past couple of years?
• What happened to the 30,000+ hours of volunteer hours and 350+ membership? They are claiming 12,640 volunteer hour match.
My suggestions are as follow;
• Staff – EO Coordinator, reduce this cost down by half to $24, 000. Make this position part time and we all will save on employee expenses. Volunteer participation and membership is down and does not require a full time position to fulfill this job description.
• Based on the same down turn, mileage should be cut as well! I am suggesting $3,000. The Forest Service has vehicles that are available based on their partnership agreement.
• Trade show fees I am recommending $0.
• Dealer Liaison Program Supplies, I am also recommending $0. How and on what do they base any success on spending $5000 toward this program?
Overall I am making these suggestions and recommendations based on these factors.
• The state grant has taken a huge cut in it’s budget.
• There are 25 other non-profits with similar programs serving other areas that are in need of funding.
• As a frequent visitor to this forest, I have not seen or run across the volunteers or coordinator.
• This group, with all it’s name changes, by now should have sourced funding through private entities! This non-profit and program lacks leadership and is evident in it’s overall decline. [Dale Johnson - 4/1/13]
I have been a Volunteer on the San Bernardino National Forest for almost 2 decades now, have always supported all their grants in the past unfortunately however I have grave concerns about this project, mainly the grant as presented gives the impression the Forest has turned over these projects entirely to an outside Foundation formally the S.B.N.F.A. The project shows maintenance funding for Forest Service equipment it plans to be using, which is good especially since much of it was purchased with Green Sticker funds however, project shows no funding for any Forest Service Staff despite claims the Forest will be supervising the project.
Also the Forest wrongfully agreeing to re-due the Forest Land plan done in 2005 has me and other Forest Service Volunteers very angry which matters because I doubt the $120,000 Volunteer match will be met, the proposed Alternatives will leave us with only 10,000 Acers available for any kind of motorized use at best, this is down from about 200,000 Acers at present wont set will with OHV Volunteers on restoration projects. The anti access groups pushing this Law suite for killing OHV use on this Forest are Litigation biased, they will not provide any meaningful Volunteer hours whatsoever and as the Forest caves in and settles baseless Lawsuits like this OHV Volunteers will fine other things to do. [Tom Tammone - 3/31/13]