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U.S. House committee demands release of Wilderness-related internal papers

PICKERINGTON, Ohio — A key U.S. House committee has approved a measure to require the U.S. Interior Department to release internal documents related to a proposal that could close up to 13 million acres to off-highway riding, the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) reports.

On June 16, the House Natural Resources Committee approved H. Res. 1406 — a Resolution of Inquiry — that directs the Interior Department to turn over to Congress the missing pages and related documents of an internal memo that discusses proposed national monument designations and other land uses of some 13 million acres in the West. National monument designations could lead to bans on off-highway riding on that land.

The measure — introduced by Natural Resources Ranking Member Doc Hastings (R-Wash.) and National Parks, Forests and Public Lands Subcommittee Ranking Member Rob Bishop (R-Utah) — was approved by a voice vote. It now goes to the full House for consideration.

“We now have a strong bipartisan agreement that the Interior Department needs to reveal to the public exactly what plans are under way to unilaterally lock up millions of acres of land across the country by designating them as national monuments,” Hastings said. “I hope the department takes today’s actions by the committee seriously and discloses the documents that we have requested promptly and without further delay.”

Ed Moreland, AMA senior vice president for government relations, praised Hastings and Bishop for continuing to push the issue after the Interior Department earlier only released 383 out of more than 2,000 pages of documents related to the national monuments proposal.

“It is troubling that the Department of the Interior has not released the full draft document for the public to review and consider,” Moreland said. “We are eager to understand the full scope of the document and the rationale for seeking these designations, which would be done unilaterally without the approval of the people’s representatives in Congress.”

On May 5, the Natural Resources Committee refused to endorse a similar measure introduced by Hastings and Bishop. And then the Interior Department released only 383 pages of documents despite repeated requests for public disclosure, prompting Hastings and Bishop to introduce H. Res. 1406.

“AMA members and other concerned citizens played a major role in persuading members of the Natural Resources Committee to approve H. Res. 1406 when the committee failed to support a similar measure in the past,” Moreland said. “It’s important now for all concerned citizens across the nation to contact their House members and urge them to support H. Res. 1406 when it comes up for a vote on the House floor.”

The easiest way to contact federal lawmakers is to go to the AMA website at AmericanMotorcyclist.com > Rights > Issues & Legislation, then enter your zip code in the “Find Your Officials” box.

A pre-written e-mail is available for you to send to your representative immediately by following the “Take Action” option and entering your information. The AMA encourages riders to personalize their message by drawing on their own personal riding experiences.

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