Legislation Would Close 23 Million Acres Of Public Land

March 2013 Powersport News All-Terrain Vehicle Association

Some 23 million acres of public land in western states would be off-limits to off-highway riding under a bill introduced in Congress on March 14.

The bill, H.R. 1187-the Northern Rockies Ecosystem Protection Act-would designate 23 million acres of public land as Wilderness. If approved by the full Congress, the measure would close off 23 million acres in Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington and Wyoming to off-highway vehicle riders.

This is equivalent to a land grab the size of the state of Indiana.

A Wilderness designation is one of the strictest forms of public land management. Once Congress designates an area as Wilderness, nearly all forms of non-pedestrian recreation are illegal, including off-highway vehicle and bicycle riding.

"Our public lands are for the enjoyment of all Americans and not just an elite few who would have you build a fence around them for those who are physically able to enjoy them," said Wayne Allard, AMA vice president for government relations. "Enthusiasts who enjoy the public lands of our nation are not just the nimble and fit but also families with small children who wish to recreate together as well as active senior citizens and the handicapped who enjoy the freedom to access the outdoors that OHVs and ATVs provide." 

Even though H.R. 1187 only affects western states, Democratic Rep. Carolyn Maloney of New York City introduced it.

"This is a huge land grab, yet no lawmakers from the affected states have signed on to support the bill," Allard said. "Shouldn't the people who live in those areas have some say in whether they should be banned from riding on public land in their states?

"To keep OHV riders from being shut out of even more public land, we have to act immediately," he said. "Concerned motorcyclists, ATV riders and others must let their lawmakers know that they enjoy motorized recreation and that we have a right to do so responsibly on America's public lands."

Riders and AMA members can contact their federal lawmakers and tell them what they think by going to www.americanmotorcyclist.com/rights/issueslegislation. There is even a pre-written letter that can be sent by email.

The AMA also encourages individuals to sign up for the AMA Government Relations Department's Action E-list so that they can be notified by email when their support is needed to make a difference on important issues. People can sign up by going to www.americanmotorcyclist.com/Rights/GetInvolved/ActionAlertSignUp/ActionAlertSignupForm.aspx.

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