PICKERINGTON, Ohio – In a victory for off-highway vehicle (OHV) riders nationwide, U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has reversed his position on his controversial new Wild Lands policy, the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) reports.

In an announcement made June 1, Salazar said the federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) wouldn’t designate any Wild Lands, which would have been managed as if they had received the restrictive Wilderness land-use designation from Congress.

Instead, Salazar said the BLM, which is a part of the Interior Department, will work in collaboration with members of Congress and others to identify public land that may be appropriate candidates for congressional protection under the Wilderness Act.

“We will focus our effort on building consensus around locally supported initiatives and working with members [of Congress] to advance their priorities for Wilderness designations in their states and districts,” he said.

Rob Dingman, AMA president and CEO, said he was pleased by the news but cautioned that OHV riders must remain on guard.

“This is a major victory for motorcyclists and all-terrain vehicle riders and others concerned about appropriate access to public land,” Dingman said. “But we must remain vigilant. Anti-access groups will continue pushing for legislation to inappropriately close off millions of acres of public land to OHVs. Not only are BLM lands under attack by these groups, but U.S. Forest Service land as well.

“I want to thank all the AMA members and others who attended meetings and contacted their federal lawmakers to oppose the Wild Lands policy,” he added. “Your voices helped put pressure on Secretary Salazar to convince him to abandon his ill-conceived Wild Lands policy.”

In December, the AMA and OHV enthusiasts won an important battle for responsible riding on public land when U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) dropped his effort to pass a massive omnibus public lands bill that would have inappropriately designated millions of acres of public land as Wilderness, barring OHVs.

But then just days later, on Dec. 22, Salazar signed Secretarial Order 3310 creating the Wild Lands land-use designation that essentially allowed BLM officials to manage public land as if it had received a Wilderness designation from Congress, but without requiring congressional approval. This new policy was widely expected to restrict or eliminate responsible OHV use in the affected areas, and was seen to be orchestrated by anti-access groups to pull an end-run around Congress.

It also was expected to have a far-reaching impact because the BLM manages about 245 million acres of public land nationwide, primarily in 12 western states.

Federal lawmakers have considered the Wild Lands policy a “land grab” and a blatant attempt to usurp congressional authority. Off-highway riders sporting “Stop the Land Grab” stickers produced by the AMA and distributed by the Utah Shared Access Alliance (USA-ALL) turned out in droves for a meeting of Utah’s Governor’s Council on Balanced Resources that featured BLM Director Bob Abbey trying to explain the new policy.

Several governors were very vocal in their opposition to the Wild Lands policy as well, including Wyoming’s Matthew Mead, Idaho’s C.L. “Butch” Otter and Utah’s Gary Herbert.

Because of opposition from powerful federal lawmakers, governors, the AMA and other OHV enthusiasts, the Wild Lands policy hit a major snag on April 15.

That’s when President Obama signed into law the Fiscal Year 2011 Continuing Resolution — the funding measure that keeps the federal government operating through Sept. 30 – that included language barring the Interior Department from using any money to implement the Wild Lands land-use policy to manage land as if it had been designated as Wilderness.

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. The AMA supports appropriate Wilderness designations that meet the criteria established by Congress in 1964, but anti-access advocates have been abusing the legislative process to ban responsible OHV recreation on public land.

PICKERINGTON, Ohio — A formal Discussion Draft entitled, “Enhancing CPSC Authority and Discretion Act of 2011 (ECADA),” will be voted upon tomorrow by the U.S. House Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade of the Committee on Energy & Commerce, the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) reports.

The AMA disapproves of the process in which this draft bill was scheduled for consideration, and urges off-highway vehicle (OHV) enthusiasts to contact their U.S. Representatives immediately to express their concern.

“The revised draft legislation was announced within 36 hours of the actual markup,” said Ed Moreland, AMA senior vice president of government relations. “While this is consistent with the committee rules for announcing meetings, the short notice gives us great concern because the public had very little time to vet the draft bill properly prior to its consideration tomorrow.”

According to the subcommittee, chaired by Representative Mary Bono Mack (R-Calif.), the draft legislation would revise the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) of 2008 and seeks to give the Consumer Product Safety Commission greater authority and flexibility to regulate based on risk.

“We are urging AMA members and all OHV riders to contact their member of Congress immediately and ask them to offer H.R. 412, the Kids Just Want to Ride Act of 2011, as an amendment to ECADA,” Moreland said.

To utilize AMA’s online alert tools to contact your Representative, click here.

The markup session begins at 9:00 a.m. EDT on Thursday, May 12, in Room 2322 of the Rayburn House Office Building, and votes will occur on amendments and the draft bill.

To view a copy of the Discussion Draft and subcommittee background memo, go to http://energycommerce.house.gov/news/PRArticle.aspx?NewsID=8585.