Congress Votes to
Close More than 2 Million Acres Nationwide to
PICKERINGTON, Ohio -- By a 285-to-140 vote,
U.S. House members on March 25 approved a bill
that closes more than 2 million acres of public
land nationwide to off-highway motorcycles,
all-terrain vehicles and all other motorized
vehicles, the American Motorcyclist Association
Following congressional maneuvering that
breathed new life into the measure after it was
defeated just a couple weeks earlier, the
lawmakers approved H.R. 146, known as the
Revolutionary War and War of 1812 Battlefield
Acquisition Grant Program. This bill was
formerly known as S. 22, the Omnibus Public Land
Management Act of 2009.
Congress' first attempt to pass this measure, S.
22, was defeated two weeks ago in the House.
However, following that defeat, the Senate
leadership brought H.R. 146 to the floor,
inserted the language from S. 22, and passed the
bill on March 19 by a vote of 77 to 20.
It then went to the House for the March 25 vote.
"The measure unreasonably bans motorized
recreation on 2.1 million acres of public lands
by inappropriately designating it as
Wilderness," said AMA Vice President for
Government Relations Ed Moreland. "This is a sad
day not only for responsible motorized
recreation but also for a democratic process
that is supposed to welcome public input and the
opportunity for congressional review.
"For example, House members never debated more
than 70 of the bills included in this package
before the vote," he said.
The measure, which now goes to President Obama
to be signed into law, consists of a daunting
collection of more than 160 pieces of
legislation and more than 1,300 pages of text.
Under the bill, areas where motorized vehicles
won't be allowed include parts of the Monogahela
National Forest in West Virginia; Jefferson
National Forest in Virginia; Mount Hood,
Badlands, Spring Basin and Copper Salmon areas
in Oregon; Sabinoso in New Mexico; Riverside
County in California; and Washington County in
U.S. Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah) noted in a House
floor speech on Feb. 9 that "there are
recreation restrictions in this bill.
"These (the AMA and other responsible
recreation) groups' members include millions of
off-highway enthusiasts, vacationing families,
and small businesses involved in the system. And
what they have pleaded with us to do is, quoting
from the letter that many groups signed, 'It is
our sincere hope that this Congress will develop
a thoughtful approach to managing our public
lands more than simply eliminating public access
and creating additional layers of bureaucracy.
Continued reasonable access to public lands is
vitally important for current and future
"So why the rush on this particular bill?"
Bishop asked. "And who are the losers, other
than Americans who enjoy recreating on public
Moreland warned that these kinds of threats
aren't going to end.
"This land grab is just the latest effort by the
federal government to restrict recreational
access to America's public lands," he said. "AMA
members responded to our calls to action and
helped us shape the debate of this legislation.
"Our voice must grow stronger if we are to head
off these and other threats in the future, and I
encourage all motorcyclists to sign up for AMA's
legislative alerts," he said.
Through the AMA Government Relations
Department's Action E-list, riders can be
notified by e-mail when they can make a
difference on important issues. To sign up, go
to the AMA website at
www.AmericanMotorcyclist.com, click on
"Rights," then "Issues & Legislation," and then
About the American Motorcyclist
Since 1924, the AMA has promoted and protected
the motorcycling lifestyle. AMA members come
from all walks of life and they navigate many
different routes on their journey to the same
destination: freedom on two wheels. As the
world's largest motorcycle organization with
nearly 300,000 members, the AMA advocates for
motorcyclists' interests in the halls of local,
state and federal government, the committees of
international governing organizations and the
court of public opinion. Through member clubs,
promoters and partners, the AMA sanctions more
motorsports competition events than any other
organization in the world. Through its
Motorcycle Hall of Fame Museum, the AMA
preserves the heritage of motorcycling for
future generations. For more information, visit