U.S. House committee to hear bill on May 5 closing 24 million acres to OHV riding
PICKERINGTON, Ohio (April 24, 2009) -- 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. 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.