OFF THE WIRE
Serious concerns with DOI’s 50-State America’s Great Outdoors ReportTake Action!
Share your concerns with your Senators and Representative today!
On November 3, 2011, the Department of the Interior (DOI) released its 50-State America's Great Outdoors report. According to a DOI release, "The full report – which contains two projects per state – comes as part of President Obama's America's Great Outdoors (AGO) initiative to establish a community-based, 21st century agenda for conservation, recreation, and reconnecting Americans to the outdoors."
The American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) and the All-Terrain Vehicle Association (ATVA) sent a letter, dated November 8, 2011, addressed to Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar requesting clarification on issues of concern. Specifically, the AMA and ATVA are concerned about the following: 1) the incorporation of public comments; 2) examples of projects in the report promoting the use of responsible motorized recreation; and 3) the role of Congress in the implementation of the report.
To view the AMA and ATVA letter, click here.
Upon initial review of the report, the AMA and ATVA cannot identify a single project that promotes responsible motorized recreation. This is concerning since the Administration's very own stated purpose of the report is to "[reconnect] Americans to the outdoors." Responsible motorized recreation connects Americans to the outdoors. This message was conveyed in thousands of comments to the DOI. In fact, the DOI applauds its own efforts of listening to and receiving over 100,000 comments from the public.
The report reinforces our concerns that not all comments, ideas, and recommendations were considered since the word motorized was not mentioned in the report, as it relates to off-highway vehicles. The word was only used in a prohibitive form, such as non-motorized.
The AMA and ATVA seek clarification on the role that Congress will have in how the AGO report will be implemented. The report did mention Congress' role in a few projects, such as Owyhee Land Exchange in Idaho. However, the report identifies various methods of funding and/or implementing but does not mention Congress. For example, "Interior will work with states and communities to advance these projects with existing resources through technical support and with its administrative authorities. It will also partner with states and communities to leverage grants, private funding, and other resources to help ensure a project's success."
Moreover, the DOI mentions it will "advance these projects...with its administrative authorities." This implies the DOI will not involve Congress, but will implement the report via executive actions. The AMA and ATVA urge that Congress and the public be involved in any disposition of public lands.
Therefore, the AMA and ATVA believe the land identified in the AGO report has a high probability of being incorporated in the form of an Omnibus Public Land Management bill or implemented administratively.
This is precisely what Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid did when he introduced S. 303, the "America's Great Outdoors Act of 2010," in the lame-duck session of the 111th Congress last year, as a substitute to seemingly unrelated legislation titled the "Federal Financial Assistance Management Improvement Act of 2009." Reid's move was reminiscent of the rare parliamentary tactic that anti-OHV forces used in 2009 to close 2.1 million acres of public land. To view the AMA press release, click here.
The AMA and ATVA need your help to make Congress aware of our concerns with the AGO report. The fastest way to reach your Senators and Representative is to call them. You can find contact information for your elected officials at AmericanMotorcyclist.Com > Rights > Issues & Legislation, then enter your zip code in the "Find your Officials" box. A prewritten e-mail is available for you to send to your legislators immediately by following the "Take Action" option and entering your information.
For more information about how to protect your right to ride, please visit the Get Involved section of the AMA website. For direct access, click here.
Again, the AMA and the ATVA urge you to write or call your Senators and Representative today and ask them to address our concerns with the AGO report that may make public land off limits to responsible off-highway riders. Please forward this alert to friends and family to help spread the message as rapidly as possible.
John Del Santo
( 619 ) 223 - 0421
At Intersections, and
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