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Steve Egbert directs a participant at Molina Ghost Run 2012
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Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Division encourages "Trail for the Trail" during OHV Safety Awareness Week

California State Parks’ Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation (OHMVR) Division and partners welcome the return of the second OHV Safety Awareness Week this year from October 15–23, with the theme “Train for the Trail.” As part of the safety awareness week, the OHMVR Division and partners will hold several FREE safety training courses and events throughout California’s state vehicular recreation areas (SVRAs). New and experienced off-highway vehicle (OHV) recreation enthusiasts can learn something new by taking classes while riding in all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), dirt bikes and recreational off-highway vehicles or side-by-side vehicles (ROVs).

Additionally, as part of the weeklong celebration, Prairie City SVRA will hold a visitor appreciation and safety day this Saturday, October 15, starting at 10 a.m. Visitors can—for free—spend the weekend enjoying overnight camping in the main staging and day-use areas. Local OHV businesses will be on-site to talk about customizations, do-it-yourself remedies and safety tips. On Saturday, October 22, visitors can help keep Hollister Hills SVRA spotless with its annual Clean Wheeling trash pick-up event. Starting at 8 a.m., this free, family-friendly four-wheeling event is held in the Upper Ranch and Hudner Ranch. Free day-use pass and lunch will be provided by the Hollister Hills Off-Road Association. Participants are advised to bring gloves, water, sunblock and a hat.

“Visitor safety is the division’s number one priority,” said OHMVR Deputy Director Sarah Miggins. “While enjoying the thousands of acres of beautiful trails, roads, dunes and other approved riding areas on all-terrain vehicles, four-wheelers, dirt bikes, motorcycles, trail bikes and snowmobiles, please consider and follow our safety tips while having fun outdoors.”

Practicing responsible OHV recreation safety measures such as taking a safety course, learning the rules of riding, planning travel routes in advance, using required equipment and treading lightly help promote safety in the SVRAs and protect the natural resources that make these public outdoor spaces special.

Below are eight safety tips for new and experienced riders:

  1. Take a Safety Course: Learn the fundamentals of operating off-highway vehicles by taking a training course, which can help you become a more experienced rider. Become familiar with the laws governing off-highway recreation on public lands and safety courses by visiting the webpage of your outdoor destination prior to leaving home.
  2. Buckle It Up: Know which gear is required for your type of recreation to prevent injury. Secure all harnesses and safety equipment. Helmets and restraint devices are most effective when following the manufacturer’s instructions. Make sure they are securely and always buckled. Always wear protective gear, including a safe, well-fitting helmet.
  3. Ride Respectfully: Community is the foundation for maintaining off-highway recreation. Respecting natural resources, wildlife and other off-highway recreators, and following off-highway regulations help preserve the natural landscapes for generations to come.
  4. Be Prepared: Know which supplies you need for a successful ride. Be prepared with a first aid kit, extra water and food, maps, a tool kit and extra fuel.
  5. File a Riding Plan: Tell a responsible person back at camp or at home where you are going and when you plan on returning. Ask that person to notify local law enforcement if you do not return on time.
  6. Scout Your Route: Because each vehicular recreation area has a vast and diverse mixture of geology for riders exploring on their motorcycle, ATV, dune buggy or 4x4, learn about the various trail experience levels and terrain prior to your visit to avoid emergencies. Stay to the right and yield to oncoming vehicles.
  7. Never Ride Alone: Always ride with at least one other person, but preferably in groups of three. If one rider is hurt, someone can stay with the rider while the other one gets help. Never move an injured rider.
  8. Tread Lightly: Know where to ride, and ride only on designated routes and trails. Be sure to check ahead for open trails. Remember, wildlife has the right-of-way.

In October 2020, the California OHMVR Commission passed a resolution dedicating the third weeks of May and October as an OHV Safety Awareness Week to promote and focus on safe and responsible OHV practices.

Working together with Tread Lightly!, California Highway Patrol, California Outdoor Recreation Foundation (CORF), Specialty Vehicle Institute of America, ATV Safety Institute, Recreational Off-Highway Vehicle Association and Motorcycle Safety Foundation, the OHMVR Division will provide safety education for the public during OHV Safety Awareness Week. Activity schedules and sign-ups for the free trainings can found on the CORF website at OutdoorRecreationFoundation.org.

California’s Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Program was created in 1971 out of the critical need to better manage the growing demands for off-highway recreation, while fostering respect for private property rights and protecting the state’s natural and cultural resources. Since that time, more than $770 million in grants, managed by the OHMVR Division, have been awarded to federal and local partners, funding acquisition and development, resource protection, safety and education, and law enforcement for OHV recreation.

Today, there are nine state vehicular recreation areas across California: Carnegie, Clay Pit, Eastern Kern County Onyx Ranch, Heber Dunes, Hollister Hills, Hungry Valley, Oceano Dunes, Ocotillo Wells and Prairie City. These public lands provide recreational opportunities on approximately 145,000 acres of lands with more than 600 miles of designated OHV trails and terrain. Some SVRAs also feature camping, swimming and other recreational opportunities. A variety of wildlife, sensitive habitats, plants and animal species call them home.

For more information about the OHMVR Division, including grant and volunteer opportunities, please visit ohv.parks.ca.gov.

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