Congress has approved a bill that closes 2 million acres of public land from off-highway vehicles.

U.S. House members voted 285 to 140 for H.R. 146, the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812 Battlefield Acquisition Grant Program. Congress first attempted to pass this measure as S. 22, the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009 but the bill failed to receive the necessary support in mid-March.

The Senate leadership revived the bill as an amendment to H.R. 146, passing the bill by a 77-20 margin on a March 19 vote. The bill, consisting of 160 pieces of legislation and taking up 1,300 pages of text, then went to the House for the March 25 vote.

“The measure unreasonably bans motorized recreation on 2.1 million acres of public lands by inappropriately designating it as Wilderness,” says Ed Moreland, AMA vice president for government relations. “This is a sad day not only for responsible motorized recreation but also for a democratic process that is supposed to welcome public input and the opportunity for congressional review.

“For example, House members never debated more than 70 of the bills included in this package before the vote.”

Pending final signing by President Barack Obama, the bill will bar motorized vehicles from parts of West Virginia’s Monogahela National Forest, Virginia’s Jefferson National Forest, Oregon’s Mount Hood, Badlands, Spring Basin and Copper Salmon areas, New Mexico’s Sabinoso, California’s Riverside County and Utah’s Washington County.

“This land grab is just the latest effort by the federal government to restrict recreational access to America’s public lands,” says Moreland. “AMA members responded to our calls to action and helped us shape the debate of this legislation.

“Our voice must grow stronger if we are to head off these and other threats in the future, and I encourage all motorcyclists to sign up for AMA’s legislative alerts.”

Related ReadingU.S. House kills Omnibus Public Land Management Act

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