Lawmakers Told That Local Communities Should Decide Land Uses

PICKERINGTON, Ohio — Supporters of H.R. 1581 — the Wilderness and Roadless Area Release Act of 2011 — told U.S. lawmakers on July 26 that the bill would allow local communities to decide the proper uses of 43 million acres of protected public land, which could include off-highway riding, the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) reports.

But critics opposed releasing the protected land all at once. Instead, they want Congress to release the land on a piecemeal basis.

The statements were made during a U.S. House Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands hearing on H.R. 1581, the Wilderness and Roadless Area Release Act of 2011. The measure would remove the stringent use restrictions on almost 6.7 million acres managed by the federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and on 36.1 million acres of U.S. Forest Service (USFS) land that was evaluated for strict congressional Wilderness land-use designations.

A Wilderness designation is one of the strictest forms of public land management. Once Congress designates an area as Wilderness, nearly all forms of non-pedestrian recreation are illegal, including off-highway vehicle (OHV) and bicycle riding.

The AMA supports appropriate Wilderness designations that meet the criteria established by Congress in 1964, but anti-OHV forces have been abusing legislative and administrative processes in repeated attempts to ban responsible OHV recreation on public land.

The BLM and USFS have determined the 43 million acres covered by H.R. 1581 aren’t suitable for Wilderness designation, but because of various laws and rules they must continue to strictly manage the land until Congress releases it for other possible uses.

The Wilderness and Roadless Area Release Act would release the land, freeing up land managers to determine new uses, if any, such as allowing responsible OHV recreation where it currently isn’t allowed.

U.S. Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), who was joined by other lawmakers in introducing the bill, said the measure “simply acts on recommendations made by the federal government and returns the management of tens of millions of acres of public land to local communities so that more Americans can have access to our public lands.

“These communities know best how to manage the lands, whether for increased recreation, preservation or development,” he said.

U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce (R-N.M.) echoed McCarthy’s comments.

“As chairman of the Congressional Western Caucus, I am proud to be an original co-sponsor of this important piece of legislation,” Pearce said. “H.R. 1581 is good for the West and good for America. It will allow more Americans to enjoy our federal lands, and allow us to actually protect the habitats of wildlife through proper land management.”

But BLM Director Robert Abbey, who opposed the bill, testified that even though the land didn’t earn an endorsement for Wilderness designation before, it might now.

“These recommendations are now 20 years old, and the on-the-ground work associated with them is as much as 30 years old,” Abbey said. “During that time in a number of places, resource conditions have changed, our understanding of mineral resources has changed, and public opinion has changed.

“If these suitability recommendations were made today, many of them would undoubtedly be different,” he said.

The 43 million acres have been locked up for years, if not decades, even though federal land managers have noted the land doesn’t qualify for the very restrictive Wilderness designation. AMA Washington Representative Rick Podliska wondered how the land could qualify for Wilderness designation now when it was deemed unsuitable 20 or 30 years ago.

“For years, groups hoping to keep responsible off-highway riders off public land have been able to get areas earmarked for possible inclusion in the nation’s Wilderness system, which immediately bars off-highway riding, bicycling and almost all other activities while the Wilderness study is under way,” Podliska said.

“We commend Rep. Kevin McCarthy for introducing H.R. 1581, the Wilderness and Roadless Area Release Act, and Chairman Rob Bishop for holding a hearing on this bill,” he said. “The hearing illustrated why this bill is necessary and that all Americans should be able to enjoy our federal lands.

“The actions taken by the current Congress could have a profound impact on the ability of responsible off-highway riders to use public land,” Podliska continued. “It’s important that all responsible riders stay informed about Wilderness bills in Congress, and take action, when necessary, to help protect their right to ride.”

The best way to stay informed is to sign up for AMA email Action Alerts at http://www.americanmotorcyclist.com/Rights/GetInvolved/ActionAlertSignUp.aspx

Federal Funding Language Would Block ‘lead law’ Enforcement

"Small businesses that sell small off-highway vehicles also suffer under the CPSIA," he said. "For the safety of children, and for the health of small businesses, the AMA strongly urges the adoption of this language."

PICKERINGTON, Ohio –A key federal agency can’t enforce a ban on the sale of kids’ dirtbikes and all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) under language inserted into a federal government funding measure in Congress, the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) reports.

On June 16, Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-Mont.) got language inserted into the House Financial Services and General Government Appropriations bill for the next fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1, that prevents the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) from using money to enforce lead-content limits on kids’ off-highway vehicles (OHVs).

The limits are contained in the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) of 2008, which is known as the lead law.

The CPSIA bans the making, importing, distributing or selling of any product intended for children 12 and under that contains more than a specified amount of lead in any accessible part. It also requires all children’s products to undergo periodic testing by independent laboratories approved by the CPSC, which is responsible for implementing the law.

Kid-sized dirtbikes and ATVs contain amounts of lead that exceed the parts-per-million levels allowed under the CPSIA.

The CPSC has delayed enforcing key portions of the law until after the end of the year. Unless the CPSIA is changed by then, the sale of child-sized dirtbikes and ATVs will effectively be banned.

The Financial Services and General Government Appropriations bill provides annual funding for several key federal government agencies, including the CPSC. If the full House eventually adopts the language, then it still needs to clear the Senate before the bill goes to the president to be signed into law.

“While the original legislation was intended to keep kids safe from lead content in toys, the overreaching enforcement wound up putting them at risk by forcing them to use larger, more dangerous machines that are intended only for adults,” said Rehberg, who is a member of the House Appropriations Committee.

“While I’m working on a permanent fix to get rid of this dangerous regulation, my appropriations language will buy more time,” he said.

Rehberg was referring to H.R. 412, the Kids Just Want to Ride Act, which he introduced to exempt kids’ OHVs from the lead-content restrictions of the CPSIA.

Rob Dingman, AMA president and CEO, thanked Rehberg for his efforts.

“This language is an important step in efforts to lift the ban on the sale of kid-sized dirtbikes and ATVs imposed by the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008,” Dingman said. “America’s young riders need to be able to ride appropriately sized machines to help them stay safe. If those machines aren’t available, then they may ride bigger machines that may be difficult for them to control.

To urge your federal lawmakers to support the Rehberg language in the House Financial Services and General Government Appropriations bill, and to support H.R. 412, the Kids Just Want to Ride Act, go tohttp://www.americanmotorcyclist.com/rights/issueslegislation

Maine Adopts Practical Test for Measuring Motorcycle Sound

Since 1924, the AMA has protected the future of motorcycling and promoted the motorcycle lifestyle.

PICKERINGTON, Ohio — Maine has adopted a simple yet reliable testing procedure that allows motorcyclists to prove their bikes don’t violate Maine’s motor vehicle sound law, the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) reports.

Under a new law that went into effect on May 26, motorcyclists ticketed for excessive sound emitting from their motorcycle exhausts can go to a certified inspection station for sound testing.

There, the exhaust system would be tested using the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) J2825 stationary sound testing procedure — “Measurement of Exhaust Sound Pressure Levels of Stationary On-Highway Motorcycles” — which the SAE developed and adopted with support from the Motorcycle Industry Council in May 2009.

Under the SAE J2825 standard, which the AMA has endorsed, decibel limits range from 92 dBA at idle for all motorcycles, to 100 dBA at certain RPMs for various motorcycles, depending on the type of engine. If a motorcycle meets these limits during the certified testing, then it is evidence that the motorcycle doesn’t violate the state’s sound law.

“This new law is good news for responsible motorcyclists who ride in Maine because it provides an objective way to prove that a motorcycle doesn’t violate the state’s sound law, rather than relying on subjective judgments,” said Imre Szauter, AMA government affairs manager. “We applaud the state of Maine — the first in the nation — for adopting the SAE J2825 standard.”

The AMA has long maintained a position of strong opposition to excessive motorcycle sound. The SAE J2825 standard is at the heart of model legislation developed by the AMA for use by jurisdictions seeking a simple, consistent and economical way to deal with sound complaints related to on-highway motorcycles within the larger context of excessive sound from all sources.

For information on the AMA’s model legislation, go tohttp://www.americanmotorcyclist.com/Libraries/Rights_Documents_Other/Model_On_Highway_Sound_Ordinance-1.sflb.ashx

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To see the AMA’s position on excessive motorcycle sound, seehttp://www.americanmotorcyclist.com/Rights/PositionStatements/ExcessiveMotorcycleSound.aspx

Motorcycles Granted Equal Access to Arizona Wildlife Refuge

PICKERINGTON, Ohio — The Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge in Arizona has reversed an unwritten policy and is now allowing street-legal motorcycles and all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) on certain roads, the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) reports.

After being alerted by AMA member Keith Dishong that street-legal motorcycles were barred from three public access roads while trucks and other street-legal vehicles were allowed, AMA Western States Representative Nick Haris and Brian Hawthorne of the BlueRibbon Coalition contacted officials at the refuge, which is managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Haris noted that the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge Comprehensive Conservation Plan allows street-legal vehicles to use three access roads, so there was no reason to bar street-legal motorcycles and ATVs from those routes.

After investigating, refuge officials agreed.

The officials announced on May 18 that street-legal motorcycles and ATVs are now allowed on three public access roads: the El Camino del Diablo, Christmas Pass and Charlie Bell roads, which are outside designated Wilderness areas. No other roads or trails in the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge are open to motorized use.

“This action does not open the refuge to unrestricted off-road vehicle activity,” refuge officials said in a news release. “Only the three public access roads already open to 4×4 vehicles are open to street-legal motorcycles and ATVs. These vehicles must abide by the same rules and restrictions as all other vehicles that access the refuge.

“Furthermore, permits for accessing these roads are required,” the officials said. “To reduce impact of large caravans, an additional special use permit is required for a party size of five or more vehicles traveling together or traveling in smaller groups but part of a larger organized event. This applies to all vehicles, including motorcycles and ATVs.”

Street-legal motorcycles and ATVs must run a mast displaying an orange flag at least 8 feet above the ground.

As part of ongoing efforts to recover endangered Sonoran pronghorn, seasonal road closures are in effect at the refuge through July 15.

Haris praised the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for reversing its policy that barred street-legal motorcycles and ATVs, and urged all appreciative motorcyclists and ATV riders to send notes of thanks to: Manager Sid Slone, Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge,1611 North Second Ave, Ajo, AZ 85321 or send an email to Sid_Sloane@fws.gov.

“Land managers at the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge were responsive to our inquiries, and forthright in evaluating their existing policy banning street legal motorcycles and ATVs,” Haris said. “Motorcyclists everywhere can appreciate their efforts.”

The 1,000-square-mile Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge shares a 56-mile border with Sonora, Mexico. Almost all of the refuge is designated as Wilderness, which bars motorized recreation. The refuge features rugged mountain ranges, sand dunes and hardened lava flows.

 

About the American Motorcyclist Association
Since 1924, the AMA has protected the future of motorcycling and promoted the motorcycle lifestyle. AMA members come from all walks of life, and they navigate many different routes on their journey to the same destination: freedom on two wheels. As the world’s largest motorcycling rights organization, the AMA advocates for motorcyclists’ interests in the halls of local, state and federal government, the committees of international governing organizations, and the court of public opinion. Through member clubs, promoters and partners, the AMA sanctions more motorsports competition and motorcycle recreational events than any other organization in the world. AMA members receive money-saving discounts from dozens of well-known suppliers of motorcycle services, gear and apparel, bike rental, transport, hotel stays and more. Through its support of the Motorcycle Hall of Fame Museum, the AMA preserves the heritage of motorcycling for future generations. For more information, please visit AmericanMotorcyclist.com

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Bill introduced to block motorcycle-only checkpoints

A federal lawmaker has introduced legislation to prevent the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) from giving money to states and local jurisdictions for motorcycle-only checkpoints, the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) reports.

On March 3, Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) introduced the bill. The legislation, with original co-sponsors Reps. Tom Petri (R-Wis.) and Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), would prohibit the DOT “from providing grants or any funds to a state, county, town, or township, Indian tribe, municipal or other local government to be used for any program to check helmet usage or create checkpoints for a motorcycle driver or passenger.”

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), which is part of the Transportation Department, recently gave Georgia a $70,000 grant to conduct one or more roadside motorcycle-only checkpoints. New York state has operated a similar program using state funds. The AMA has been tracking this disturbing development of motorcycle-only checkpoints since it first appeared in New York several years ago.