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Off-highway Riders Urged to Attend Congressional Hearing on Controversial ‘Wild Lands’ Policy

Published February 24th, 2011

A key U.S. House committee will hold a hearing March 1 on the Department of the Interior’s controversial “Wild Lands” land-use policy that could close millions of acres of federal land to responsible motorized recreation with no public input, the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) reports.

The AMA urges all concerned riders to contact their federal lawmakers and ask them to oppose the Wild Lands policy because it usurps congressional authority over public land-use designations.

On Dec. 22, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar signed Secretarial Order 3310 creating the Wild Lands land-use designation that essentially allows officials in the federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to manage public land as if it had received a “Wilderness” designation from Congress, but without requiring congressional approval. This new policy is expected to restrict or eliminate responsible off-highway vehicle (OHV) use in the affected areas.

The House Committee on Natural Resources will hold an oversight hearing on March 1 at 10 a.m. in Room 1324 of the Longworth House Office Building in Washington, D.C. The subject of the hearing is: “The Impact of the Administration’s Wild Lands Order on Jobs and Economic Growth.”

“This is a prime example of why Congress must exercise vigorous oversight of the Obama administration,” said Natural Resources Chairman Doc Hastings (R-Wash.). “The Wild Lands policy expressly circumvents Congress’ statutory authority to establish Wilderness areas.”

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 OHV recreation on public land.

“With the new Wild Lands policy, anti-access advocates and the administration are now seeking an end-run around Congress,” said Ed Moreland, AMA senior vice president for government relations. “Salazar’s order has far-reaching implications because the BLM manages about 245 million acres of public land nationwide, primarily in western states.”


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