U.S. Congress Passing Legislation to Protect Off-Highway Vehicle Access

By SEMA Washington, D.C., Staff 

Johnson Valley OHV Recreation Area—home of the annual "King of the Hammers" event—is the nation’s first federal OHV area.

The U.S. House of Representatives has passed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which directs how defense monies are to be spent in 2015. The U.S. Senate is expected to pass the bill shortly, to be signed into law by President Obama. Lawmakers have taken advantage of this “must-pass” legislation to include more than 60 land-use provisions not directly tied to the military. They include relatively minor land swaps and boundary adjustments along with several long-debated proposals covering land-use issues. 

Highlights of particular interest to SEMA and the off-road community include:

  • Cape Hatteras, North Carolina: A SEMA-supported provision requires the Department of the Interior (DOI) to amend its January 23, 2012, final rule, which restricted off-highway vehicle (OHV) access to Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreation Area. The DOI must consider extending access to seasonal routes for longer periods of time during the fall and spring. It also requires that wildlife protection buffers be adjusted to ensure they don’t constitute a larger area than is needed to protect endangered species, and instructs DOI to construct new vehicle access points and roads. 
  • Hermosa Creek, Colorado: A SEMA-supported provision designates 70,650 acres of federal land in the San Juan National Forest (La Plata County, Colorado) as the “Hermosa Creek Special Management Area.” Local and state advocates for the OHV community worked closely with lawmakers to protect continued motorized vehicle and snowmobile access within the recreation area.
  • Johnson Valley OHV Recreation Area, California: Lawmakers did not pass a provision to include the word “National” within the title “Johnson Valley Off-Highway Vehicle Recreation Area.” Johnson Valley is the nation’s first federal OHV area. More than 96,000 acres is maintained by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management as a dedicated OHV recreation area. SEMA will support another effort in 2015 to add the word and symbolically acknowledge the land’s national significance.

For more information, contact Eric Snyder at