PICKERINGTON, Ohio — Access to certain public land in nine states could be lost to motorcyclists and others under a massive land-use designation proposal submitted to Congress on Nov. 10, the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) reports.
The proposal, submitted by the U.S. Interior Department, has been identified as the “Preliminary Report on BLM Lands Deserving Protection as National Conservation Areas, Wilderness or Other Conservation Designation.” The report identifies 18 backcountry areas in nine states that Interior Secretary Ken Salazar highlighted today as deserving protection by Congress as national conservation areas or wilderness areas. Those states are California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah and Washington.
“The AMA and many other groups have battled Wilderness proposals in the past that didn’t meet the strict criteria for earning a Wilderness designation under federal law, and the U.S. Interior Department’s new plan may include a lot of acreage that simply isn’t appropriate for Wilderness designation,” Allard said.
The AMA supports appropriate Wilderness designations that meet the criteria established by Congress in 1964. But over the years, groups opposed to responsible off-highway vehicle recreation have been abusing the Wilderness designation process to ban motorcyclists, all-terrain vehicle riders and bicyclists from public land, as well as to block access for the elderly, handicapped and children who rely on motorized transportation to enjoy public land.
Salazar indicated that he hopes this report is incorporated into an omnibus public lands bill similar to another public lands bill that passed Congress in 2009. The bill referenced by Salazar was the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009. It was passed using rare parliamentary tactics that ultimately closed 2.1 million acres of public land.
The AMA and the All-Terrain Vehicle Association will continue to inform members of the latest news as this issue unfolds, and updates can be found at AmericanMotorcyclist.com.