Congress to Hold Hearing on DOI's 'Wild Lands' Policy

Write your Representative today!

As mentioned in a previous American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) alert, on Dec. 22, 2010, 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. This new policy may restrict responsible off-highway vehicle (OHV) use in the affected areas.

The U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources will hold an oversight hearing on March 1 entitled "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 Committee Chairman Doc Hastings. "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. Salazar's order has far-reaching implications because the BLM manages about 245 million acres of public land nationwide, primarily in western states.

The AMA sent a letter, dated Jan.11, 2011, to Salazar asking him to explain whether the new "Wild Lands" land-use designation will block traditional routes of travel for off-highway riding. To view the letter, click here. And to view the AMA's press release, click here.

The AMA needs volunteers to attend this hearing. If you can attend the hearing, please e-mail with the subject line Wild Lands. All volunteers will be given a "Stop the Land Grab" decal for display during the hearing.

Even if you plan to attend the hearing, the AMA needs all its members and OHV enthusiasts to write their Representative today. You can follow the "Take Action" option to send a pre-written e-mail directly to your Representative urging them to oppose any usurpation of congressional authority with regards to public land designations.

Send a pre-written e-mail to your Representative now and let them know you oppose any usurpation of congressional authority.