SEMA eNews Vol. 12, No. 19, May 14, 2009

SEMA Sounds Off Against Super-Sized Wilderness Bill

Why are eastern lawmakers so concerned about closing 19 million acres in the Rocky Mountains to motorized recreation? SEMA and many enthusiasts in the off-highway vehicle (OHV) community want to know the answer.

At issue is legislation introduced in the House by Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) which would designate as wilderness 19 million acres of land in Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Oregon and Washington. By law, wilderness areas generally prohibit roads and the use of motorized vehicles. The issue is consequential to SEMA members as off-roaders would have less riding areas in the region and potentially less demand for OHV equipment.

A House subcommittee held a hearing during which Congressional members from areas threatened with the wilderness designation voiced strong criticism to the legislation. Most of the bill’s 75 cosponsors represent areas east of the Mississippi River or are from California. In addition to staunch opposition from local lawmakers, concerns were also raised by U.S. Forest Service officials who stated that the bill conflicts with ongoing efforts to develop land-management regulations in the affected areas. A representative from the Bureau of Land Management also cautioned that the bill “may present serious conflicts with uses that may be of importance to the public.”

SEMA submitted comments in opposition to the bill and will continue to urge members of Congress to adopt land-use policies that have the support and participation of local communities and government authorities in the decision-making process. For more details, contact Brian Duggan at briand@sema.org.

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