24 million acres of public land may shut for OHV riders

U.S. House hears testimony on measure to designate 24 million acres of public land as Wilderness
The American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) submitted comments today to the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Natural Resources arguing against a bill that would designate more than 24 million acres of public land in Western states as Wilderness or Wilderness Preservation System land.

The hearing was held in the Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands of the Committee on Natural Resources. The legislation is H.R. 980, the Northern Rockies Ecosystem Protection Act.

"This bill is especially disconcerting due to the fact that it’s being proposed by a representative from a densely populated urban area, New York City," said AMA Vice President for Government Relations Ed Moreland. "In fact, it 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 them?

"To keep OHV riders from being shut out of even more public land, we have to act immediately," Moreland 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."

Moreland’s written comments submitted to the U.S. House included the following statement: "Our public lands are for the enjoyment of all Americans and not just an elite few who would have you build a fence around them for those who are physically able to enjoy them. Enthusiasts who enjoy the public lands of our nation are not just the nimble and fit but also families with small children who wish to recreate together as well as active senior citizens and the handicapped who enjoy the freedom to access the outdoors that OHVs and ATVs provide… In fact, a compelling argument could be made that this type of broad legislation does more to protect public lands from future generations rather than for future generations."

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