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 Home Press Releases AMA Backs Federal Legislation to Protect Public Land

For Immediate Release
March 6th, 2002

Contact: Bill Kresnak
Phone: (614) 856-1900
Fax: (614) 856-1920

AMA Backs Federal Legislation to Protect Public Land

American Motorcycle AssociationPICKERINGTON, Ohio -- The American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) has endorsed legislation in Congress to get tough with anyone who "willfully and knowingly" damages federal land. The AMA sees the measure as a workable alternative to a similar bill introduced earlier that targeted only motorized recreation.

Under the new proposal, introduced by U.S. Rep. Scott McInnis (R-Colo.), stiff penalties would be imposed for anyone, not just motorized vehicle users, who intentionally damages land controlled by the U.S. Forest Service, the federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM), or the National Park Service.

Currently, those agencies impose different penalties. Under this new proposal, the penalties would be consistent among the three agencies.

"This legislation is directed at those who `willfully and knowingly' violate the laws governing our public lands. Too often responsible riders are denied access to riding areas because of the actions of a few," said Patrick Holz, legislative assistant in the AMA's Washington, D.C., office. "The agencies use the lack of tough penalties as an excuse to shut down areas to riding. This legislation will allow our federal agencies to punish those who break the law and leave the rest of us to enjoy our riding areas."

The AMA supports responsible riding on public land and believes that those who intentionally damage land should be punished, whether they're motorized vehicle users, horse riders, campers or whoever. The AMA decided to endorse the McInnis legislation, in part, because another measure now being considered in Congress?H.R. 1382, commonly called "ROVER"?targets only motorized vehicle users, and doesn't provide for consistent penalties among the three federal land agencies.

The McInnis resolution?H.R. 3808, The Consistent Public Land Laws Enforcement Act of 2002?creates a consistent stiff penalty for all three land agencies for anyone who intentionally damages public land. Penalties for those who venture off trails unintentionally remain unchanged.

The fine money would be used to cover the cost of any improvement, protection, or rehabilitation of public lands as a result of the offense that led to the fine.

"This legislation creates much needed uniformity in federal law and sends a tough but fair message to anyone engaging in illegal activities that harm our federal lands," said McInnis, who is chairman of the U.S. House Resources' Subcommittee on Forests and Forest Health. "This underscores my deeply held belief that individuals and groups have the right to use but not abuse our public lands and natural treasures."

The legislation also has the backing of other outdoor recreational organizations including Americans for Responsible Recreation (ARRA), which represents the AMA, Motorcycle Industry Council, the American Council of Snowmobile Associations, and the National Marine Manufacturers Association.

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