Public Land Access in Jeopardy Again
By Robert Partain
It seems as if the US Senate simply will not back off their attack to restrict public lands for motorized use. At the center of the current debate is the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009. Within this legislation is language that would strictly prohibit motorized vehicle use to more than two million acres of public lands. This restriction would apply to access by off-highway motorcycles and all-terrain vehicles.
On March 11, 2009 the original bill (S. 22) was defeated in the House of Representatives. The original bill was approved by the Senate. Now, the legislation is being presented as part of H.R. 146, which is entitled "The Revolutionary War and War of 1812 Battlefield Acquisition Grant Program". Does it surprise you that the Senate would slip this type of restriction into this particular bill?
The American Motorcycle Association (AMA) is taking a stand against this legislation. In a recent interview, Ed Moreland, vice president for AMA's government relations section, commented: "Despite the defeat of S. 22 in the House, the Senate is employing rare tactics to shove this ban through Congress. The AMA is once again urging all motorcyclists to contact their Senators to vote against this bill, which is an unfair and overly restrictive change to public lands policy. The measure unreasonably bans motorized recreation on 2.1 million acres of public lands by inappropriately designating it as Wilderness. Continued responsible access to public lands is a vitally important right for current and future generations."
In addition to the restriction itself, at issue here is the way in which the Senate is pushing the legislation forward. In essence, they are using a rarely employed parliamentary procedure in response to the earlier House vote on S. 22. In an effort to get around the consequences of the earlier vote, the Senate, in all its wisdom, has slipped more than 1,300-pages as an amendment to this totally unrelated piece of legislation.
"This demonstrates how serious Senate leaders are about getting this unreasonable restriction to public land access approved into law," Ed Moreland said. "We must be just as vigilant in our response. Time is short. All motorcyclists and ATV riders need to call their Senators now and insist they vote no on H.R. 146."
Those interested in keeping public lands open for use by motorcycles and ATV's should take action immediately as this legislation may move forward fast.