AMA News & Notes keeps motorcyclists up-to-date on hot topics, news affecting the motorcycling community and opportunities to communicate with elected officials.
National and Regional News
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congress passed a five-year, $305 billion highway bill that includes some big wins for AMA members and motorcyclists everywhere. The Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act includes:
- Continued funding for the Recreational Trails Program, which provides funding to states for maintaining, improving and expanding off-highway recreational opportunities;
- A prohibition against using federal funds for discriminatory motorcycle-only checkpoints;
- Reestablishing a Motorcyclist Advisory Council to coordinate with and counsel the U.S. Department of Transportation administrator on specific infrastructure concerns to motorcyclists;
- Funding of highway safety grants that include programs to reduce distracted driving, including language that make it easier for states to successfully qualify for and receive the money; and
- Measures to ensure privacy and security in vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure technology.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Obama administration opposes the off-road plans in two proposals before Congress that affect off-highway vehicle access to public lands in California. The bills – the Clear Creek National Recreation Area and Conservation Act (H.R. 1838) and the California Minerals, Off-Road Recreation, and Conservation Act (H.R. 3668) – were discussed during a December hearing of the U.S. House Subcommittee on Federal Lands.
H.R. 1838, sponsored by U.S. Rep. Sam Farr (D-Calif.), would allow OHVs to return to the 75,000-acre Clear Creek Management Area southeast of Hollister, Calif., and establish the 21,000-acre Joaquin Rocks Wilderness area, a compromise proposal that has bipartisan support among California’s congressional delegation. Clear Creek was closed in 2008 after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency raised health concerns over naturally occurring asbestos.
H.R. 3668, sponsored by U.S. Rep. Paul Cook (R-Calif.), would designate 965,000 acres of the Mojave Trails area in the Mojave Desert as a special management area that would be closed to renewable energy development. The bill also would designate 1,200 miles of roads and trails for OHV use and include a “no net loss” provisions for trails and roads to prevent closures. The bill also would designate six National Off-Highway-Vehicle Recreation Areas at Spangler Hills, El Mirage, Stoddard Valley, Rasor, Dumont Dunes and Johnson Valley. El Mirage, Spangler Hills and Johnson Valley would be expanded. H.R. 3668 also would transfer 4,600 acres to the city of Apple Valley for creation of an OHV park. The bill would prohibit the president from designating any national monuments on land that is part of an OHV area or special management area.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Federal land and water management agencies have announced their fee-free days for 2016. The National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Forest Service and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service will have no entrance fees on a combined 36 days, offering Americans the opportunity to enjoy healthy, active outdoor fun on their public lands and waters. Most of the fee-free days are linked to holidays and special events, and there are often special offers from agency partners. The 2016 fee-free days are:
- National Park Service: Jan. 18, April 16-24, Aug. 25-28, Sept. 24, Nov. 11
- Bureau of Land Management: Jan. 18, Feb. 13-15, Sept. 24, Nov. 11
- U.S. Forest Service: Jan. 18, Feb. 15, June 11, Sept. 24, Nov. 11
- U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service: Jan. 18, Feb. 13-15, Sept. 24, Oct. 9, Nov. 11-13
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Bureau of Land Management has extended its public comment period until Jan. 15 on a proposal to withdraw lands determined to be crucial to the survival of the greater sage-grouse from location and entry under the 1872 Mining Law, subject to valid existing rights. The extension is to allow the Secretary of the Interior to collect additional information relevant to the decision on whether to withdraw these areas from the location of new mining claims for up to 20 years. Comments may be submitted via email to email@example.com, by fax to (775) 885-6147, or by mail to BLM Carson City District, 5665 Morgan Mill Road, Carson City, NV 89701, Attn: Colleen Sievers, Project Manager.
GROVE OAK, Ala. – Buck’s Pocket State Park received a $526,996 grant through the federal Recreational Trails Program for 15 to 25 miles of off-highway-vehicle trails along a section of Sand Mountain in Jackson, DeKalb and Marshall counties. The grant is part of $1.6 million the state awarded for 15 trails projects. The remainder of the grant from the Federal Highway Administration will go to the state’s parks, public trust lands and city parks.
SACRAMENTO, Calif. – The U.S. Forest Service’s Pacific Southwest Region is sharing its draft evaluations of lands that may be recommended and included in the National Wilderness Preservation System. No new wilderness areas are being designated at this time. The Forest Service is revising the forest plans for the Inyo, Sequoia and Sierra National Forests using the 2012 Planning Rule, which requires this wilderness evaluation. As part of this endeavor several documents are being shared for public review, including a draft wilderness evaluation report, maps, and tables that provide overviews of designated wilderness, recommended wilderness and potential recommended wilderness. The public may provide feedback on the areas being considered for analysis and suitable uses and management of recommended wilderness. More information regarding the management of recommended wilderness can be found in the Frequently Asked Questions document on the wilderness evaluation webpage: http://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/r5/landmanagement/planning/?cid=STELPRD3803608. Feedback may be submitted until Feb. 1 via web form at http://tinyurl.com/earlyadoptersfpr. Questions or concerns should go to Christina Boston at (707) 562-8837.
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – A bill filed by state Rep. Rocky Miller (R-Lake Ozark) would make the failure to wear a motorcycle helmet a secondary offense. Under current law, motorcyclists may be stopped by a law enforcement officer for failing to wear a helmet while riding. If Miller’s bill is enacted, a helmet citation could be issued only if the motorcyclist is pulled over for another violation first.
KALISPELL, Mont. – The BlueRibbon Coalition and other advocacy groups are suing the U.S. Forest Service over a plan that bars motorized access to some areas of the Kootenai National Forest. The plan designates 115,000 acres as recommended wilderness and eliminates mechanized and motorized recreational uses. The lawsuit claims the Forest Service failed to follow federal guidelines for recommended wilderness areas and failed to provide adequate opportunity for public comment.
MADISON, Wis. – Two bills that would create a state off-road motorcycle program are scheduled for consideration in January by the state assembly. A.B. 470, sponsored by state Rep. Jeffrey Mursau (R-Crivitz) and S.B. 395, introduced by state Sen. Jerry Petrowski (R-Marathon), would create the Off-Highway Motorcycle Council to make recommendations to the state Department of Natural Resources on matters related to trails, routes and other OHM issues. The motorcycle program would be operated in a manner similar to the state’s existing ATV program.
EAST TROY, Wis. – The fate of the remaining assets of Erik Buell Racing are the subject of a Jan. 14 hearing before Walworth County (Wis.) Circuit Judge Phillip Koss, who declined to approved a sale of the assets to lone bidder Liquid Asset Partners LLC in December. Court-appointed receiver Michael Polsky had sought approval of the $1.6 million sale after no other bids were received by the auction deadline. But the judge postponed a decision to give opponents of the sale time to object.
EBR closed in April 2015 and filed for receivership under Wisconsin state law. At a summer auction, India’s Hero MotoCorp bought Buell’s motorcycle design consulting business for $2.8 million. The company’s machinery, tooling, and parts inventory, as well as accounts receivable and intangibles were sold to Bruce Belfer, a New Jersey businessman who vowed to resume manufacturing with Erik Buell at the helm of the company. Belfer failed to arrange sufficient financing to close the $2.25 million sale.
Belfer and Louisiana resident Demetri Melekos objected to the sale. They have until Jan. 4 to file motions.
ADELAIDE, Australia – The city has proposed that motorcycles and scooters be permitted to park on sidewalks to free up parking spaces for other vehicles. The Adelaide Council is seeking feedback from businesses before designating two sidewalks for a trial program. Sidewalk parking is legal in Melbourne and Victoria and in parts of Sydney and Brisbane. The Gold Coast Council is considering a similar proposal.
PICKERINGTON, Ohio – AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame Legend Wayne Rainey is the 2015 AMA Motorcyclist of the Year. Rainey, a three-time world champion, two-time AMA Superbike champion and now president of MotoAmerica, leads a team that has revitalized professional road racing in the United States. The AMA Motorcyclist of the Year, awarded by the AMA Board of Directors, recognizes the person or persons who had the most profound impact within the motorcycling community in the previous 12 months.
MotoAmerica took the reins of professional road racing in late 2014 when a deal was struck among MotoAmerica, Daytona Motorsports Group and the AMA that enabled MotoAmerica to take over commercial and promotional responsibility for professional road racing in America and restored the AMA as the sanctioning body for professional road racing.
In 2015, MotoAmerica operated the first season of its professional road racing series, sanctioned by the AMA and FIM North America. The MotoAmerica series, the new home of the AMA Superbike Championship, built a strong platform and set professional road racing in America on a new path for success. The full story of Rainey's creation and development of MotoAmerica can be found in the January issue of American Motorcyclist, the official journal of the AMA.
PICKERINGTON, Ohio – The 2015 AMA Championship Banquet will honor national champions from all motorcycle and all-terrain-vehicle racing disciplines sanctioned by on Jan. 23 at The Hyatt Regency in Columbus, Ohio.
The 2015 AMA Championship Banquet honors competitors who placed first, second or third in AMA National Championship Series and at AMA Grand Championship events. Class champions will receive medals and AMA No. 1 plates at the banquet, while second- and third-place finishers also will receive awards. All who wish to celebrate the 2015 racing season are invited to attend. To register to attend, visit www.americanmotorcyclist.com/racing/racingbanquet.aspx.
The event also will include the drawing for an original condition 1986 Honda CR250R motocross bike. All proceeds from the raffle benefit the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. One chance to win is available with a $5 donation, or five chances are available with a $20 donation. To donate, see www.motorcyclemuseum.org > Raffle Bike or call (614) 856-2222.
AMA News & Notes is a monthly publication compiled and edited by the American Motorcyclist Association Government Relations Department. Designed to inform motorcyclists of rights-related issues and events in the United States and around the world. AMA News & Notes welcomes your input. Suggestions and editorial contributions can be sent to AMA Government Affairs Editor, Jim Witters.
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