Congress Told That
Off-Highway Riding is an Economic Engine
PICKERINGTON, Ohio -- Testifiers told a key
U.S. House subcommittee on June 22 that
off-highway vehicle (OHV) recreation puts
billions of dollars into the U.S. economy, and
public land needs to be opened up for motorized
recreation, the American Motorcyclist
Association (AMA) reports.
Supporters of H.R. 1581, the Wilderness and
Roadless Area Release Act of 2011, testified
that the bill would free up almost 43 million
acres of public land that now may be off-limits
to off-highway riding.
"As it stands, the BLM [federal Bureau of Land
Management] currently restricts activity on
nearly 7 million acres of WSAs [Wilderness Study
Areas] despite the fact the BLM itself has
already determined these areas are not suitable
for Wilderness designation by Congress,"
testified Thomas Crimmins, spokesman for the
group Professionals for Managed Recreation.
"The situation with the Forest Service is even
worse," he said, "as access is restricted to
over 36 million acres of IRAs [Inventoried
Roadless Areas] that have been deemed unsuitable
for ultimate designation as Wilderness."
The testimony came during a House Subcommittee
on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands
oversight hearing on "Opportunities for Outdoor
Recreation on Public Lands, chaired by Rep. Rob
Besides Crimmins, others who testified included
Scott Jones, who spoke on behalf of the AMA and
the Colorado Off Highway Vehicle Coalition; Dick
Lepley of the Pennsylvania Off-Highway Vehicle
Association; Russ Ehnes of the National
Off-Highway Vehicle Conservation Council; Don
Amador of the BlueRibbon Coalition; and Karen
Umphress of the Minnesota Motorized Trails
Coalition and the Coalition of Recreational
The Wilderness and Roadless Area Release Act of
2011 would remove stringent use restrictions on
6.7 million acres managed by the BLM and on 36.1
million acres of U.S. Forest Service land that
was evaluated for strict congressional
Wilderness land-use designations.
The federal agencies have determined the 43
million acres aren't suitable for Wilderness
designation, yet because of various laws and
rules they must continue to strictly manage the
land until Congress "releases" it for other
possible uses, which H.R. 1581 would do.
Crimmins, who worked for the Forest Service for
32 years, was involved in the process for
evaluating Forest Service land to determine
whether it deserved a Wilderness designation. A
Wilderness designation bars off-highway riding
and most other uses.
"The intent of the process was to identify any
and all areas that could potentially be
considered for Wilderness designation and then,
once and for all, make recommendations for areas
that should be considered for Wilderness
designations and areas that should be managed
for multiple use," Crimmins testified. "This
would allow the agency to move forward with its
mission to manage the national forests."
While land mangers expected that areas
ultimately deemed as unsuitable for Wilderness
designation would be released, "this has not
been the case," he said.
On the economic side, Jones testified that "OHV
recreation provided over a billion dollars in
positive economic impact and resulted in over
12,000 jobs in the state of Colorado alone."
Umphress said that all-terrain vehicle (ATV)
activity alone in Minnesota contributed $2
billion to the economy in 2006.
Lepley, who also owns a motorcycle dealership,
testified that the estimated economic value of
the OHV retail market was $14.6 billion in 2009,
"bolstered by the sale of 131,000 new
off-highway motorcycles and 321,000 new ATVs,
which are now part of the estimated 12.2 million
dirtbikes and ATVs in America."
"Clearly, the powersports industry contributes
mightily to the nation's economy during both
good times and bad, but regardless of the
economy, nothing threatens dealerships and the
industry at large like having no place to ride,"
To urge your federal lawmaker to support H.R.
1581, the Wilderness and Roadless Area Release
Act of 2011, go to
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