AMA Urges Congress to Support Motorized
Recreation on Public Lands
--The American Motorcyclist Association told a
Congressional committee on March 13 that
motorized recreation is a "legitimate and
popular" use of public land that needs more
"Motorized recreation is a legitimate and
popular use of our public lands," said Ed
Moreland, AMA vice president for government
relations, in written testimony to the U.S.
House Natural Resources Committee Subcommittee
on National Parks, Forests and Lands. "The AMA
has long supported access to public lands for
responsible motorized recreation. Motorized
recreation is also compatible with other public
land resource values."
The topic of the subcommittee hearing was
"Impacts of Unmanaged Off-Road Vehicles on
Federal Lands." Moreland told the federal
lawmakers that recreation, like any other
resource, must be managed.
"Too often motorized recreation has been managed
by the extremes of either being ignored or
prohibited," he said. "The land management
agencies must recognize that they have many
management tools that they can utilize to
provide motorized recreation opportunities while
protecting other resource values."
Moreland also made a case for more funding for
federal agencies such as the U.S. Forest Service
and Bureau of Land Management so that they can
better manage motorized recreation. And he noted
that the motorized recreation community has
taken proactive steps, often in partnership with
public land managers, to reinforce its land-use
ethic through rider education and public
"Motorized recreation enthusiasts even support
stricter penalties for anyone who damages our
public lands," he said.
Besides benefiting riders and the off-highway
vehicle industry, motorized recreation pumps
funds into local economies, Moreland added.
"One of the most dramatic cases is that of the
$7.7 million impact of the Hatfield-McCoy
off-highway vehicle trail system in some of the
most economically challenged areas of West
Virginia," Moreland said. "According to Marshall
University, the expansion of motorized trails
has lead to the creation of 146 new jobs and an
increase of over $622,000 in state and local tax
Moreland closed his testimony by noting that the
motorized recreation community has a long
history of volunteerism and is ready to help
public land managers by maintaining trails,
promoting the ethical use of the land and
advocating for appropriate funding.
"The AMA is confident that with the continued
commitment of the recreation community, coupled
with a commitment to manage our recreation from
our land-management agencies, and with adequate
funding support from Congress, the management
challenges facing our public lands can be
Other motorized recreation advocates who
provided testimony before the panel include Russ
Ehnes, executive director of the National
Off-Highway Vehicle Conservation Council; Larry
Smith, executive director of Americans for
Responsible Recreational Access; and Greg Mumm,
executive director of the BlueRibbon Coalition.
Ehnes testified in person before the
subcommittee that the active management of
off-highway vehicles on federal land is working,
and that closing public land to the millions of
Americans who enjoy motorized recreation would
be a step backward.
Smith testified that the issue of "unmanaged"
OHV recreation on U.S. Forest Service land was
settled back in 2004 when U.S. Forest Service
Chief Dale Bosworth announced the Forest Service
would go to a designated-route system for OHV
recreation, rather than continue the policy of
permitting cross-country travel on Forest
He also noted the federal Bureau of Land
Management has begun active management of OHVs
on BLM land.
"Some witnesses today will probably wring their
hands and say that OHV recreation is a problem.
We believe this (management) issue is already
being addressed by the federal agencies," Smith
testified. "However, a greater problem exists
that deserves this subcommittee's attention and
that is the lack of adequate resources for all
forms of recreation on federal lands."
The American Motorcyclist Association: rights.
Founded in 1924, the AMA is a non-profit
organization with 290,000 members. The
Association's purpose is to protect and promote
the interests of motorcyclists, while serving
the needs of its members. For more information,
visit the AMA website at