Law & Order

House Panel Considers the Benefits of Off-Highway Vehicle Recreation

A House Natural Resources Subcommittee recently held a hearing entitled, “Opportunities for Outdoor Recreation on Public Lands.” The main topics of discussion were protecting recreational access to federal lands and recognizing the economic benefits derived from such activities. Witnesses included representatives from the BlueRibbon Coalition (BRC), National Off-Highway Vehicle Conservation Council (NOHVCC), Colorado Off-Highway Vehicle Coalition and other OHV organizations. The hearing included testimony in support of multiple-use federal lands and responsible OHV recreation.

Don Amador, Western representative for the BlueRibbon Coalition, spoke on the need to reopen the Clear Creek Management Area (CCMA) in California. Currently closed due to an “emergency closure” in 2008, the CCMA contains more than 75,000 acres of land containing off-road trails. Amador testified that the decision was based on inaccurate data and false assumptions and that the land should be designated as a National Recreation Area with prescribed OHV uses.

SEMA promotes the responsible use of federal lands for recreation and continues to oppose land use policies that are unnecessarily restrictive. “Wilderness designations” are of particular concern since no motorized activity is permitted on such land. In 2009, lawmakers passed 160 separate measures as one omnibus bill, thereby designating 2.2 million acres of new wilderness in nine states. Lawmakers are now discussing the possibility of designating millions more acres in the same fashion. 

For more information please contact Stuart Gosswein, senior director, federal government affairs, at