California's Clear Creek Management Area is of vital importance to the off-highway-vehicle community in the West, and the American Motorcyclist Association supports federal legislation that would create the country's first national OHV area there, Wayne Allard, AMA's vice president for government affairs, told Congress today.
Testifying before the U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources' Subcommittee on Public Lands and Environmental Regulation, Allard warned that, without H.R. 1776, Clear Creek's Serpentine Area of Critical Environmental Concern would remain closed to off-highway-motorcycles.
This area is vital to accessing other trails within the management area.
"I hope we can move this legislation, so that the 50,000 riders that enjoyed the Clear Creek Management Area in 2003 can do so again in 2014," Allard said.
H.R. 1776, the Clear Creek National Recreation Area and Conservation Act, would guarantee future access to the management area for off-highway-vehicle enthusiasts who visit Central California.
The bill is also innovative in that it allows the BLM and state and local governments to form partnerships to enhance the recreation experience in the CCMA.
The AMA's concerns with the BLM's current Record of Decision include:
• Many staging areas for OHV access are located in the Serpentine area;
• Many trails run through the Serpentine area, which is situated in the middle of the Clear Creek management area, so restricting access to the Serpentine would fragment or eliminate routes;
• The current Record of Decision permits enthusiasts to access the CCMA for only five days a year if participating in motorized recreation and non-motorized recreation just 12 days a year.
"Riders are limited to potentially less than two weekends of visitation," Allard told Congress. "This is an especially difficult pill to swallow, not only because it is discriminatory, but also because many riders travel long distances and arrive late on Friday and leave on Sunday."
Allard also pointed out that the BLM's Record of Decision carries the potential to limit the total overall number of visitors by granting to the BLM state director the ability to limit the total number of daily visitors to the area.
"With the administrative swipe of a pen, access can be denied to one of the best places to ride in the country," Allard said.
The 75,000 acres of the Clear Creek Management Area have been ranked as one of the top 10 places to ride by Dirt Rider magazine - the most popular motorcycle magazine of its type -- and formerly hosted the Quicksilver Enduro, a nationally recognized event for over 30 years. From 1983 until 2007, the event was designated a National Enduro by the AMA.
Similar legislation -- H.R. 1676 - was introduced by Rep. Paul Cook (R-Calif.) on April 2 to create a national OHV area to guarantee permanent access to Johnson Valley
in Southern California.