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House Bill Could Close Public Lands to OHV

Friday, April 24, 2009
American Motorcyclist Association
"This is one of the biggest OHV land grabs in our nation's history." - AMA Vice President of Government Relations Ed Moreland on the proposed bill to close more than 24 million acres of public lands in western states to OHVs.
The U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources will hold a hearing on May 5 to consider a bill that would designate more than 24 million acres of public lands in western states as Wilderness or Wilderness Preservation System land. If approved by the full Congress, the measure would close off more than 24 million acres in Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington and Wyoming to off-highway vehicle (OHV) riders, the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) reports.

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

Even though H.R. 980 -- The Northern Rockies Ecosystem Protection Act -- only affects western states, Rep. Carolyn Maloney of New York City introduced it.

"This is one of the biggest OHV land grabs in our nation's history," said AMA Vice President of Government Relations Ed Moreland. "Even more disconcerting than the fact that the bill is being proposed by a representative from a densely populated urban area, New York City, is that the bill is being considered without the support of a single member of Congress who represents the affected districts. Shouldn't the people who live in these areas have some say in whether or not they should be banned from riding in it?

"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."

Additionally, Moreland said, there are other bills on the legislative horizon on Capitol Hill that would close even more public land to responsible riding. They include:

  • Senate Bill 799 -- America's Red Rock Wilderness Act -- and its companion measure, H. R. 1925, would designate some 9.4 million acres of Bureau of Land Management land in Utah as Wilderness. 
  • Senate Bill 721 and H.R. 1769 would add 22,000 acres to the 394,000-acre Alpine Lakes Wilderness Area in Washington State.
Riders and AMA members can contact their federal lawmakers and tell them what they think by going to the "Rights" and then "Issues and Legislation" section of the AMA website at www.AmericanMotorcyclist.com. There, the names, addresses and telephone numbers for members of each congressional delegation appear. There is even a pre-written letter that can be sent via 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 e-mail when their support is needed to make a difference on important issues.

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RD Rider -Accept this closure as necessary  December 8, 2010 07:04 AM
The wonton disregard and damage done by OHVs and motorcycles in the west is at epidemic proportions and as riders we have let it happen while we complain that it is some sort of land grab. The truth is destruction of natural areas and loud and disrespectful riders are ruining the privilege of use of our public lands and even though I hate being blocked from the back country riding I love I will accept that my fellow riders are at fault. Lets find a regulatory system and education requirement that works and get the jerks off the public lands so we can ride and respect what is there and leave the privilege for our children and grandchildren. As it is now I believe much more will need to be closed to leave that heritage. It makes me sad. I gotta go ride my XR250 (on the roads, quietly and respecting the other users of the lands I can use)
RSD -How much will we take?  April 27, 2009 05:51 PM
How much will we put up with before we rise up and say NO? The seizure of major amounts of public land, so-called banking bailouts that turn into commonstock and control for the Government. Now talk of "bailouts" and future control of the major newspapers? Am I the only one who sees what's going on here? This is insane.
RESIST TOTALITARIANISM! -The Four Cruelest Words  April 27, 2009 09:07 AM
The four cruelest words in the English language are "I Told You So". The leftists are drunk with power and are moving as quickly as they can to eliminate freedoms and rights. Expect more of this. There is another 9.5 million acres about to be gobbled up right behind this bill. Pretty soon only King Obama and his court will have access to the "Royal Forrests" That's change you can believe in. All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing. And don't kid yourselves, big government is evil!
B.C. -H. R. 980  April 26, 2009 06:45 PM
JSH, what about all all the other users of this land that will be shut out of it, such as mountain bikers, hunters, gold miners, horse riders and others that won't even be able to get to their trail heads because they've been shut out! What about the hundreds of millions of acres that have been already closed?? Don't you realize that the more land that is shut down the more the OHV use is concentrated into less and less land area, which will inevitably cause more management problems? I find it extremely selfish of you to favor a bill that could adversely affect off road recreation for years, maybe even eliminate it. As far as loud pipes are concerned, I agree that there are a few idiots out there that are spoiling it for everyone else. But in the past few years, great strides have been taken by manufacturers to build quite bikes that still perform. Riders do need to keep their bikes as quiet as possible. Progress on this front is being made, but more must be done. That does not mean off road recreation has to be eliminated. You say that you can't count the number of times you're day has been spoiled by loud bikes while out hiking. Have you ever had a hiking day when you wish you were on a bike instead of walking? Ever counted those?? Do you ever think about the thousands of jobs that will be eliminated if the off road industry collapses, and all the families those jobs support? Do you ever walk 50, maybe 100 miles into the back country to see the natural wonders of this nation? Probably not, as you, as most people, do not have the time. For most people, this is only possible on a bike, ATV or 4WD vehicle. Would you deny them their right to the transportation of their choice to get to these places so they too can enjoy these places??
Scott -H.R. 980  April 25, 2009 11:39 PM
Mr. JSH, using your logic, then you must really be upset when you see an "illegal" hiking trail in a wilderness area that veers off of the "legal" trail to a scenic vista or down to the edge of a creek or lake. I will bet you have never cleared brush to pitch your tent or pitched your tent on top of sensitive high elevation flora or fauna as well. Personally, I think we have too many ridiculous rules and regulations on our recreation rights. OHV users, in good faith over the years, have compromised on being shut out of certain areas of riding and accepting more and more government regulation of their equipment, such as the noise of their exhaust systems. We have compromised so much that there is truly very little left to lose. It is really not difficult for a person these days chastise OHV users for engaging in "illegal" activity, since most of what was legal OHV usage 15 years ago has been made illegal, by definition. Recently, the "illegal" riding area I am riding in now is thriving. I guess one of the reasons this "illegal" usage is tolerated is because the land use manager likes to ride on it personally. The user built trails are incredibly challenging. The users have cut down trees to make bridges over the creeks....and they cut down trees to build bridges just to make an obstacle. The users have cut 5 or 6 lines through the woods in some areas and have dug up significant amounts of soil to build jumps and unnatural berms along the whole trail. Where ever there is a spectacular rock outcropping along the trail, the users have found a way to incorporate into the trail..in 4 or 5 lines. Progressively, the trails seem to be making a bigger and bigger footprint. Practically every time I go riding there is a completely new illegal trail cut on the hill. Let me tell you, this is one fun place to ride. I used to ride my motorcycle up there, when I was a kid. There was a pretty tight network of trails that pretty much went from point A to point B. Now, I only ride my Mt. Bike up there, and this area is voted as one of the top 5 places to ride a Mt. Bike in the United States. It is called Galbraith Mountain outside Bellingham, WA. I can't think of a bigger bunch of hypocrites with regards to "illegal" resource usage than hikers, campers and mt. bikers. Think about it.
JSH -H.R. 980  April 25, 2009 08:35 PM
You will have a difficult time getting non-riders on your side until motorcyclists clean up their act. That means not installing illegal exhaust systems and staying on trails. Frankly, may people are simply tired of all the noise from both on-road and off-road motorcycles. ----------- I ride both on and off road but I full support this bill. You see I'm also a backpacker and hiker and can't count the number of times my day has been spoiled by the constant sound of some idiot on a motorcycle who thinks more noise equals more power. ------------- Until motorcyclists and ATV riders can play nice with the rest of us and follow the law they deserve to be banned.
Bill Chwala -H.R. 980  April 25, 2009 02:57 PM
If you ride a motorcycle of any kind, use public lands for hunting, exploring, camping this is should concern you. Please contact your elected representatives and tell them you opposed this bill. I also think the AMA and the motorsports media could be doing a lot more to publicize this matter and get more people on our side. This is and should be front page headlines in the magazines!