SEMA eNews Vol. 10, No. 43, October 25, 2007

EASTERN LAWMAKERS MOVE TO DENY OHV ACCESS TO 24 MILLION ACRES IN WESTERN STATES

Members of the House Natural Resources Committee met to consider legislation that would set aside an unprecedented 24 million acres of public lands in the Northern Rockies. This land would be designated as “wilderness” and by definition, motorized recreation would be strictly prohibited in these areas.

This proposal has been reintroduced numerous times over the last 12 years. While the bill has bipartisan support, the sponsors of the measure and a vast majority of the co-sponsors are from eastern states. The breadth and magnitude of lands affected by this bill has turned this into an east-west debate. During the hearing, Congressional members representing the affected states expressed their vehement opposition to the bill. In addition, representatives from the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management testified on the administration’s opposition to the measure.  While it is safe to assume that the bill, as written, will not become law under the current administration, this could change in the future depending on which party controls Congress and the White House.

Wilderness legislation is consequential to SEMA members since it potentially denies access to off-roaders and the equipment that they purchase. SEMA continues to support land-use decisions that allow local stakeholders to participate in the decision-making process.  Within that context, SEMA supports compromise approaches on wilderness areas that balance the need to preserve access to appropriate motorized recreation while protecting some of our nation’s natural wonders. Details: Jason Tolleson at jasont@sema.org or Petra Smeltzer at petras@sema.org.

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