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DC Insider: Keeping Trails Open for All


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With spring underway, riders across the country will start to notice more restrictions placed on access to trails on federal land. This is no coincidence. Federal land management policies across the country have been becoming more restrictive and less friendly to off-highway vehicle riders.

A recent study found that up to 4,500 miles of multiple use trails in Colorado – a whopping 50-70 percent – are slated for closure under resource management plans that are currently being implemented and/or devised. This is terrible news for the OHV community because it means fewer opportunities to leave civilization behind, experience a change of scenery, and explore the great outdoors.

There is positive news.  All resource management plans introduced must be released to the public by being published in the Federal Register, a publication that our very own Rick Podliska, AMA deputy director of government relations, reviews daily. Most notices published have at least a 30-day comment period. By being aware of comment periods, the OHV community has the opportunity to submit comments to federal agencies and have our voices heard.

More good news: Our voices matter! By being aware and proactive the OHV community has successfully defeated proposals to limit access on federal lands in the past, and we will continue to do so in the future.

Unfortunately, several federal agencies have adopted policies which limit what gets posted in the Federal Register. Recently, we received word of a comment period for a new trail. However, this was never mentioned in the Federal Register. In fact, without our extensive network of AMA members across the country, we may have missed this opportunity to comment.

Our response from the agency in charge was, because this trail opening did not have a “significant impact on the human environment,” the notice was not legally required to be placed in the Federal Register. We are now investigating where the line is drawn between “significant” and “less than significant,” but I know I do not like the idea of someone else determining it for me.

Contrary to the official position, I am supremely confident that the opening, or closure, of a trail would constitute a very significant event for those nearby. It certainly would have made a big impact where I used to ride.

I hope that as we all enjoy riding – either on- or off-highway – we remain vigilant to the threats to our chosen pastime. When the motorcycling community works together, we can ensure that on- and off-highway motorcycling will not only remain an exhilarating American pastime, but also an important an economic driver in our communities. In other words, a truly inspiring enterprise.

If you happen to notice activity in your area, please contact us at grassroots@ama-cycle.org.

Have a safe and adventurous April.

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