Riders seek equal treatment on public land

The American Motorcyclist Association told a U.S. house subcommittee yesterday that off-highway vehicle riders deserve “fair and equal treatment” from public land managers.

AMA Western States representative Nick Haris, speaking on behalf of the AMA and the All-Terrain Vehicle Association, testified during a House Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands hearing on “Resorting Public Access to the Public Lands: Issues Impacting Multiple-use on Our National Forests” in Sacramento, Calif.

“We would like to take this opportunity to remind land managers that the OHV community is a ready partner,” Haris said. “The riding community has long proven their willingness to ‘pay to play’ on our nation’s public lands and, in return, we simply ask for fair and equal treatment when making management and policy decisions.”

He said restrictions and requirements for special events, as well as the increasing costs of obtaining special use permits, are creating hardships. Haris told the story of the Polka Dots Motorcycle Club, which was required to prepay about $50,000 for a five-year permit for their annual family enduro, which had been held at the Eldorado National Forest in California for the past 40 years.

“This event was to have been held on existing routes that had previously gone through a thorough environmental review. … Cost recovery was typically minimal, and given the long and successful history of this event, the riding community was simply stunned by this sudden increase in fees as well as the agencies’ request for prepayment of the entire amount,” Haris explained. “Needless to say, the event was canceled, and similar issues have forced the cancellation of other enduros as well as equestrian events.”

Riders have felt left out of the process in which new travel management plans are developed and have become frustrated with established routes being left off travel management maps, Haris said.

“Outdoor enthusiasts who enjoy the public lands of our nation are not just the nimble and fit but also families with small children who wish to recreate together, as well as active senior citizens and the handicapped who enjoy the freedom to access the outdoors that OHVs and ATVs provide,” he said.

To read the full transcript of Haris’ testimony, click here.

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