Congress Creating 2 Million Acres of Wilderness, Closing OHV Trails

The United States Senate passed legislation to add more than 2 million acres to the National Wilderness Preservation System. The “wilderness” designation is consequential since no mechanized activity is permitted on such lands. The issue is of keen interest to off-roaders and the SEMA-member companies that market products to those groups. 

The legislation bundles more than 160 separate initiatives that had been introduced in Congress in recent years. The bill would designate wilderness in nine states and establish several new national parks, monuments and conservation areas. The House of Representatives is expected to quickly ratify the legislation and send it to President Obama for his signature.

Noteworthy areas gaining wilderness designation would include:

  • 190,000 acres in and around Joshua Tree National Park (CA)
  • 470,000 acres in the Sierra Nevada and White Mountains (CA)
  • 90,000 acres within the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks (CA)
  • 210,000 acres in and around Dominguez Canyon (CO)
  • 250,000 acres within Rocky Mountain National Park (CO)
  • 517,000 acres in the Owyhee-Bruneau Canyonlands in exchange for 190,000 acres of nearby Bureau of Land Management lands for OHV recreation and other activities (ID)
  • 11,000 acres within the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore (MI)
  • 16,000 acres for the Sabinoso wilderness (NM)
  • 130,000 acres around Mt. Hood (OR)
  • 30,000 acres in the Oregon Badlands (OR)
  • 260,000 acres in and around Zion National Park in exchange for 140,000 acres for OHV recreation and other activities, including designation of the “High Desert Off-Highway Vehicle Trail” (UT)
  • 40,000 acres in the Jefferson National Forest (VA)
  • 37,000 acres in the Monongahela National Forest (WV)

Some roads and trails were excluded from the wilderness designations and therefore remain available to the OHV enthusiast. Nevertheless, SEMA expressed concern that lawmakers were moving too quickly since not all roads and trails received protection. For more information, contact Brian Duggan at