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NOVA Cuts Impact Cle Elum Trails

Posted by Andrew Engelson at May 20, 2009 12:34 PM |

Over the weekend, the Ellensburg Daily Record published a good article on how the new state budget will affect trails in the Cle Elum Ranger District. It's definitely worth a read if you like hiking in the Teanaway area and are concerned about whether those trails will get seasonal maintenance.

To summarize, the state legislature decided to pay for part of the Washington State Parks budget by taking money from the state's Non-Highway and Off-Road Vehicle Account (NOVA). NOVA is generated from state gas tax revenue and is distributed to pay for maintenance of trails on federal, state, county and municipal public lands. Much of the U.S. Forest Sevice's Cle Elum Ranger District pays for its annual trail maintenance budget through NOVA grants.

According to the article, these grants account for up to 70 percent of the Cle Elum Ranger District's summer trail maintenance costs. The district usually hires a staff of 23 seasonal trail workers, but this may be reduced to zero because of cuts to NOVA.

Tim Foss, the district's manager of trails and wilderness, said in the article:

“Probably most hiker-only trails aren’t going to be cleared — logged out to remove downed trees — this year,” he said. “Hikers are going to be scrambling over logs.”

WTA will certainly lend a hand with volunteer support in the Cle Elum district, but volunteers alone can't do the work of clearing those trails.

While WTA is pleased that no state parks will have to close this year due to budget cuts, we’re saddened that NOVA dollars will not be available for grants to deserving agencies such as Washington State Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Forest Service. If revenue from the recently passed State Parks "opt-in" fee of $5 on motor vehicle registrations is above projections--which is a likely scenario--we believe the legislature should move quickly to restore funding for the NOVA grant program.

Comments

Nova Funds

 This is a great day. The Nova funds should NOT be use to clear trails for none OHV users. It was set aside by OHVers to be used for the OHV trails NOT hiking trails! I do not get it. You say "volunteers alone can't do the work of clearing those trails." But I ask why not? Put some work into the trail system yourself. Get a chainsaw and "Oh my mistake!" Get a handsaw or ax and get to work.
 That money was stolen from the NOVA fund that was payed for by OHV users and should only be used for what it was intended for. Quit looking for someone else to pay for your trail systems and pay for them YOURSELF! We do!

Posted by:


Angliagasser on May 21, 2009 08:39 AM

Nova Funds

oops! I meant non, not none.

Posted by:


Angliagasser on May 21, 2009 08:46 AM

Nova Funds

By the way. Just so you know.

tod701 @ 08:15 - Thursday, May 21st, 2009

One of the “outdoor recreation programs” that had its funding diverted is the Nonhighway and Offroad Vehicle Activities (NOVA) program.

The NOVA program is funded by fuel tax from fuel used in offroad vehicles and offroad vehicle license tabs. It was created as a substitute for individual fuel tax refunds because it is a violation of Article II, Section 40 of the State Constitution to use fuel tax money for anything but roads. As a refund to the people that paid the fuel tax on fuel used in offroad vehicles these funds were to be used to facilitate offroad vehicle activities. Now that the funds have been diverted, this is no longer a refund and is nothing more than an unconstitutional theft of these funds.

 If the shoe was on the other foot and IF you had had your money given to the OHVers you guys would be very pissed off.
 Our fine Governor Gregoire is nothing more then just a thief!

Posted by:


Angliagasser on May 21, 2009 08:59 AM

Log Out

What no NOVA money to raid for your own pet projects?

Why are the "Hiker only" trails not being logged out? Because dirtbikers clear and maintain there own trails in large part. This is partially a result of wta and other groups raiding our funds and demonizing our user group. Shame on the wta and other anti-groups, you make your bed now lay in it!

There is more than enough room for all user groups don't be an elitist hater!

Posted by:


ridetilludie on May 21, 2009 09:08 AM

NOVA program

NOVA uses 1 percent of the state gas tax generated by people driving on roads not maintained by the state to fund recreation opportunities for both non-motorized and motorized trail users. The state legislature has acknowledged that hikers contribute to the NOVA fund by paying gas taxes on fuel while driving to and from trailheads. NOVA grants are essential to trail projects, both motorized and non-motorized. In addition, WTA sponsors more that 80,000 hours of trailwork on trails each year.

Posted by:


Andrew Engelson on May 21, 2009 11:51 AM

NOVA program

 So hikers that contribute 1 percent of the NOVA funds are intitled to 100 percent of the money? For some reason that just does not add up to me.

Posted by:


Angliagasser on May 21, 2009 01:00 PM

Hikers contributing...

Andrew you are right in that our legislature "acknowledged" that Hikers contribute as you say and we all know how much logic and ethics our legislature applies to it's decisions and operations. They are driven by money and lobbyist, something that the WTA is very well versed in. The amount of $ awarded in NOVA grants to non motorized projects is so far from proportionate to how much non-motorized user's contribute that it's almost funny. The intent of the program at conception was to fund motorized recreation based on what motorized users were contributing, that was fair and just! The fact that the WTA and other groups later pressured or swayed our legislature to "acknowledge" it was somehow remotely funded by Subaru's driving up a dirt road and that you were entitled to it is as much theft as this latest raid on the funds. Preserving the resources we have and enjoying them responsibly is honorable but when our state and interest groups act without integrity to keep others out it's shameful. The OHV community is mostly made up of families, law abiding people that are responsible but choose to recreate differently. Yeah we can cover 75 miles of high country single track in a day on machines that exhaust fewer emissions and are far quieter than your lawn mower. Who is entitled to say we can't do that? We have been doing it for decades in fact a lot of the systems you use today were created by dirtbikes. We love the outdoors and want to enjoy it legally but somehow we are made out to be killers of the forests and law breaking hooligans... why? Because it's easier to shut us out that way therefore expanding your already overabundant non-motorized trail systems... rant off. It would be great someday if we could just all agree to share what belongs to all of us and work together to protect our assets like these NOVA funds... think about it next time a rider stops on the trail, takes his or her helmet off and says "Hi, nice day huh?".

Posted by:


Don Larson on May 21, 2009 12:59 PM

DNR Plans Closures

From Mark Mauren, DNR Recreation Manager:

"As you now know, the state legislature diverted our yearly $1.5 million in NOVA grant funding to Washington State Parks for at least the next 2 years. These grant funds are critical in keeping 110 gas-tax supported facilities and trails open and safe. In addition, our general fund budget was reduced by 60 percent, leaving us with only $200,000 a year to maintain 33 recreation facilities and 167 miles of trails. This includes facilities such as Mt. Si, McLean Creek, Lake Spokane, and Ahtanum Snow Park.

"As a result of these budget reductions, we are forced to make some painful decisions that will require closing some of our recreation areas—either temporarily or permanently...

"In cutting our funding, the legislature gave us authorization to close up to 40 recreation sites...

"At this point, we don’t have a specific date set for when closures will go into affect. We will keep you updated and in the loop as we work through this difficult process.

"Many of you have asked me why DNR can’t rely on volunteers to keep these areas open. Volunteers and user groups are very important to our program and help keep our recreation areas safe, clean, and enjoyable places for the public. We are committed to continue working with these dedicated people.

"But the reality is much of our budget shortage can’t be made up for with volunteer time. For example, pumping outhouses requires professionals at a cost of $750 each pump out. Replacing a vandalized picnic table costs $500. $20 to replace signs, etc..."

Posted by:


Rod Farlee on May 27, 2009 01:17 PM