Representative and Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) along with Representative Rob Bishop (R-UT), Chairman of the House Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands and Representative Steve Pearce (R-NM), Chairman of the Congressional Western Caucus plan to introduce the Wilderness and Roadless Area Release Act of 2011 shortly. This bill would remove restrictions to motorized access on more than 40 million acres of public land nationwide.
The American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) and All-Terrain Vehicle Association (ATVA) support this bill and applaud McCarthy, Bishop and Pearce for helping every American achieve greater access to our public lands. On April 5, 2011, the AMA and ATVA sent McCarthy a letter of support for this bill. To view the letter, click here.
The Wilderness and Roadless Area Release Act would remove the riding ban on 6.7 million acres managed by the federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and riding restrictions that may be in place for 36.1 million acres of U.S. Forest Service (USFS) land.
“As strong supporters of multiple-use principles for our public lands, we should release public lands from restrictive management practices that are unnecessary,” McCarthy told his colleagues. “This bill also would preserve and strengthen the robust local land management planning process by returning emphasis to local stakeholders and local communities who know best how to manage their public lands rather than bureaucrats here in Washington.”
Specifically, this bill would “release” all Wilderness Study Areas (WSAs) controlled by the BLM and Inventoried Roadless Areas (IRAs) managed by the USFS that have been determined by land managers to be unsuitable for congressional Wilderness land-use designations. Motorized recreation is banned on Wilderness land.
Moreover, this legislation would terminate the U.S. Department of the Interior Secretarial Order 3310. On Dec. 22, 2010, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar signed Secretarial Order 3310 creating a new land-use designation called Wild Lands that essentially allows officials in the BLM to manage public land as if it had received a “Wilderness” land-use designation from Congress, but without requiring congressional approval.
The AMA and ATVA support appropriate Wilderness designations that meet the criteria established by the Wilderness Act of 1964. However, we agree with McCarthy that the Secretarial Order appears to undermine this law. 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 prohibited.
The Wilderness and Roadless Area Release Act is long overdue and the AMA and ATVA thank McCarthy, Bishop and Pearce for introducing it. For years, anti-access groups have used WSAs and other tactics to inappropriately keep responsible riders off public land that is well suited for motorized recreation.
The AMA and ATVA need you to contact your Representative now to urge them to become an original cosponsor to the Wilderness and Roadless Area Release Act of 2011. Just follow the “Take Action” option to send a pre-written e-mail directly to your Representative.