July 9, 2009 – The Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) California Desert District will receive about $8.3 million in grants from California’s Off-Highway Motor Vehicle (OHV) Recreation Program, BLM’s California Desert District manager, Steve Borchard, announced today.”We’re grateful for the award of the OHV grants,” said Borchard. “With these funds we can improve the recreational experience for off-highway enthusiasts, while ensuring we protect the diversity of species that inhabit the California Desert. As managers of our public lands, we at BLM also have a special responsibility to preserve these areas for multiple uses, including such non-motorized activities as hiking, backpacking, hang gliding, hunting, rock hounding, horseback riding, wildlife viewing, photography, rock climbing, and mountain biking. OHV grants will enhance access for these activities.”About $3.2 million in OHV grants will go toward the operation and maintenance of designated routes that reduce impacts upon wildlife and their habitats. In addition, the grants will provide support services for high-quality OHV programs in recreation areas such as Dumont Dunes, El Mirage, and Imperial Sand Dunes. California’s OHV Recreation Program, a division of California State Parks, awarded BLM about $1.3 million to ensure protection of visitors at OHV recreation areas and to protect the natural resources of public lands through law enforcement.Another $3.8 million was awarded BLM for restoration, education, and safety projects. The California Desert District comprises 67 wilderness areas, all of which were closed to OHV use upon designation in 1994. However, 1,400 trails and ways crossed the 4,000 miles of wilderness boundary, encouraging illegal egress by desert OHV users. The BLM will employ boundary signing, preparation and distribution of current maps, education and outreach, ‘hard barrier’ [e.g., fences, barricades], a law enforcement presence, and ‘soft barrier’ [vertical mulch] construction as part of its restoration efforts.Education and safety projects include a junior ranger program that will deliver National Off-Highway Vehicle Conservation Council messages to elementary, middle, and high school students, as well as children and parents visiting public lands.Program funding for OHV grants comes from fuel taxes attributable to the recreational use of vehicles off highway, off-highway vehicle registration fees, and fees collected at State Vehicular Recreation Areas.