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Posts Tagged ‘Omnibus Public Land Management Act’

Mt Bachelor, Or

Mt Bachelor, Or

I enjoy outdoor recreation.  I hike.  I camp. I mountain bike.  I ride cross-country motorcycles in recreational areas and act responsibly to protect public lands.

Last month the U.S. House approved and Obama signed into law yesterday a bill that unreasonably bans recreation on more than 2 million acres of public land by designating it Wilderness — meaning — no cars, no mountain bikes, no logging, no motorcycles, no permanent structures, no ATVs, no roads, no snowmobiles, no horses, no paragliding, nothing mechanized and no non-human-powered recreation PERIOD

Smith Rock

Smith Rock

The 1964 Wilderness Act cuts right to the point; “an area where earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain.”  A Wilderness designation means it will continue that way in perpetuity.  Think of it as a sanctuary to be preserved from humans by humans forever.  As example the five trails – Shining Lake, Shellrock Lake, Serene Lake, Grouse Point and Dry Ridge – that were open to mountain bikes is no longer allowed.  In the northwest, areas effected under this bill are: Mount Hood, Badlands, Spring Basin and Copper Salmon.

Before I get a bunch of doomsday comments re; catastrophic consequences… I do care about quality drinking water and am just as concerned about the Arctic ice shrinking as the next person, but this lack of democratic process and lack of public input or opportunity of review prior to becoming law is just another form of filling the federal treasury, adding layers of bureaucracy, and a literal “land grab” by the federal government.  I hold no delusion that the government is making any difference and today I’m temporarily “out-of-outrage”, but at some point people are going to wake up and be tired of this government over-reach!

As background, the bill followed congressional maneuvering which put new life into the measure AFTER it was originally defeated.  Unrelated, lawmakers approved HR146, known as the Revolutionary War and War of 1812 Battlefield Acquisition Grant Program, but at the last minute slipped in a collection of more than 160 pieces of legislation and more than 1,300 pages of text on the recreational ban.  The bill was formerly known as S.22, the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009.  Again Congress’ first attempt to pass measure, S.22 on its own merits, was defeated.  House members never debated more than 70 of the bills included in the package before the vote.  Do you think they read it?!

Have fun out there, but whatever you do don’t touch your favorite huckleberry patch or soak your toes in the Roaring River as that background hum you hear might be a National Forest Service drone patrolling the air space looking for parking pass and Wilderness violators!

Photo of Mt Bachelor from NFD 370 Trail and Smith Rock.

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just_rideI made a commitment earlier in the year to blog more about and highlight Northwest legislative activity.  My intent is to provide illumination on issues and help give motorcyclists a “voice.”   It’s turning out that it could be a full-time job as America seems to be moving farther away from its Founders’ vision and government, but I digress.

I was checking my BlackBerry and read a story by Charles Pope in The Oregonian.  I’m positively stunned the writer and article took a conservation-group bias about public land protection.  NOT!

So, what actually transpired.  The bill — Senate Bill 22: The Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009 — a bill that would have banned motorized vehicles from more than 2 Million acres of public land — failed to get the required two-thirds vote of the House members for approval. The vote was 282 yes to 144 no, with six lawmakers abstaining.  Mr. Pope reported it failed because it was “short two votes” in the house.  True enough.  But, he didn’t illuminate the fact that the bill had raised the ire of sport enthusiasts and recreational motorcyclist (AMA members and many other groups) not only because it was a package of more than 160 bills loosely coupled together to form a single bill more than 1,300 pages long, but also because it was fast-tracked through the Senate earlier this year and then positioned for a final House vote without the consideration of House members on more than 70 bills in the package.

The bill is yet another example of the recent trend in our government.   Fast-tracking bills through the legislative process without appropriate review is truly a violation of the spirit of open and democratic government.  This bill was a poor product of a poor process, and it would have cut off reasonable access for a whole host of activities on our public lands.  Much of that land is currently used for enjoyment and recreational vehicle use – responsibly!

While the debate is certainly not over, the grassroots lobbying so far has definitely helped the recreational motorcycle cause.

UPDATE: March 16, 2009 — Although the original bill, S. 22, was defeated on March 11 in the U.S. House of Representatives following Senate approval, it has been revived as part of H.R. 146, the Revolutionary War and War of 1812 Battlefield Acquisition Grant Program.

Even with the defeat of S. 22 in the House, the Senate is employing rare tactics to shove this ban through Congress.  The Senate has employed a little used parliamentary procedure to reintroduced the bill as a 1,300-page amendment to an unrelated piece of legislation for a vote as early as today.

Clearly this shows how serious Senate leaders are about removing the public debate and getting unreasonable restrictions put in place to public land access approved into law.  We must be just as vigilant in our response. Time is short.

All motorcyclists and ATV riders need to call their senators now and insist they vote no on H.R. 146.

Photo courtesy AMA.

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