Western states governors have added their voices to the chorus of vocal critics of the new federal “Wild Lands” policy that gives administration officials the power to ban responsible off-highway riding on millions of acres of public land, the AMA reports.
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar signed Secretarial Order 3310 creating a new land-use designation called Wild Lands that essentially allows officials in the Federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to manage public land as if it had received a Wilderness land-use designation from Congress but without requiring congressional approval.
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 illegal. The AMA supports appropriate Wilderness designations that meet the criteria established by Congress in 1964, but anti-access advocates have been abusing the legislative process to ban responsible off-highway vehicle recreation on public land.In December, the AMA and OHV enthusiasts won an important battle when U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) dropped his effort to pass a massive omnibus public-lands bill that would have inappropriately designated millions of acres of public land as Wilderness. With the new Wild Lands policy, anti-access advocates are now seeking an end-run around Congress.
Federal lawmakers quickly called the Wild Lands policy a “land grab” and a blatant attempt to usurp congressional authority. Off-highway riders sporting “Stop The Land Grab” stickers produced by the AMA and distributed by the Utah Shared Access Alliance (USA-ALL) turned out in droves for a meeting of Utah’s Governor’s Council on Balanced Resources that featured BLM Director Bob Abbey trying to explain the new policy.
Governors who have come out against the Wild Lands policy include Wyoming’s Matthew Mead, Idaho’s C.L. “Butch” Otter and Utah’s Gary Herbert.Herbert remained opposed to the Wild Lands policy following the January 14 meeting. Salazar’s order has far-reaching implications because the BLM manages about 245 million acres of public land nationwide, primarily in Western states.Under Salazar’s order, BLM officials will look at the land they manage and decide which land should be labeled “Lands With Wilderness Characteristics.” Once those decisions are made, the officials will go through a public land-use planning process before designating land as Wild Lands.
In a related issue, the Kids Just Want To Ride Act was recently introduced by Representative Denny Rehberg (R-Montana) in the U.S. House of Representatives, in response to the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (CPSIA), known as the Lead Law. The American Motorcyclist Association strongly supports the Kids Just Want To Ride Act and is urging everyone to call their representative to become an original cosponsor. The Kids Act is a legislative exemption for youth-model motorcycles and ATVs from the lead provisions in the CPSIA. The CPSIA effectively banned the sale of small-displacement recreational vehicles due to overly restrictive lead content standards.
The AMA needs you and everyone you know who is concerned with the future of youth riding to call your representative and ask them to cosponsor the Kids Just Want To Ride Act. To speak to your representative, call the capitol switchboard at 202.225.3121 and ask for your representative by name, then let them know you’d like to see them cosponsor the Kids Just Want To Ride Act.