Here we go again: Recreational opportunities at risk

Contact your Representative to oppose H.R. 3334!

On Nov. 3, 2011, Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) introduced H.R. 3334, the latest version of the controversial Northern Rockies Ecosystem Protection Act (NREPA). The American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) is concerned about this bill because it will designate nearly 24 million acres as Wilderness and components of the National Wilderness Preservation System in Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington, and Wyoming. This Wilderness designation will make the land off limits to off-highway riders.

Our public lands are for the enjoyment of all Americans. Enthusiasts who enjoy the public lands of our nation are not just the nimble and fit but also families with small children who wish to recreate together as well as active senior citizens and the handicapped who enjoy the freedom to access the outdoors that off-highway vehicles (OHVs) and all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) provide.

The AMA fully supports appropriate Wilderness designations where there is broad local support. However, Congress must designate new Wilderness areas as defined by the Wilderness Act of 1964.

H.R. 3334 does not meet the definition of Wilderness. Indeed, the Wilderness Act defines Wilderness, with a capital 'W', as those areas which are essentially in a natural state, where changes are produced by the environment itself - not by the hand of man. Much of the land in question is criss-crossed by roads, trails, power lines, dams, bridges and structures.

It is also important to note that while all of the affected land in this legislation is in the western United States, the legislation was offered by a Representative from New York City. Not one House member representing the affected areas has chosen to co-sponsor H.R. 3334. This is very telling-the local population in the area affected does not support this bill.

This single piece of legislation proposes to increase Wilderness by nearly 25 percent in one stroke of the pen without local support of those who recreate on that land.

In fact, a compelling argument could be made that this type of broad legislation does more to protect public lands from future generations rather than for future generations.

We need your help to stop H.R. 3334 in its tracks. The fastest way to reach your Representative is to call them. You can find contact information for your elected officials by entering your zip code on AmericanMotorcyclist.com, clicking on "Rights," then "Issues and Legislation." Additionally, a prewritten e-mail is available for you to send to your Representative immediately by following the "Take Action" option and entering your information.

If this bill were signed into law, the effect on the OHV community would be devastating for generations. Please contact your Representative right away and urge them to oppose H.R. 3334.