The U.S. Senate is considering S. 3525, the Sportsmen’s Heritage Act of 2012. The American Motorcyclist Association supports many provisions of the bill. However, the AMA is concerned with certain provisions that pose deleterious threats to responsible motorized recreation on private and public lands.

The AMA opposes as written several provisions in the bill. Title II, Sec. 201, would effectively create a new definition for “aquatic habitat.” The term is defined broadly and includes “any areas on which an aquatic organism depends, directly or indirectly, to carry out the life processes of the organism, including an area used by the organism for spawning, incubation, nursery, rearing, growth to maturity, food supply, or migration.” Additionally, the term includes areas adjacent to an aquatic environment that “serves as a buffer” or “protects the quality and quantity of water resources.” One could argue that all of the land our members ride on falls under this definition.

Moreover, the AMA opposes Sec. 204 and Sec. 207 because the bill mandates that the federal Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service cooperate to “conserve” “aquatic habitat” as broadly defined in Sec. 201. This will impose broad restrictions on all BLM/USFS activities and be a priority over the Federal Land Policy and Management Act’s multiple-use requirements.

Additionally, Sec. 204 allows projects to be automatically “approved” should the secretaries fail to respond to recommendations within 180 days. Besides allowing for automatic approvals, the bill delegates authority to the secretary to “promulgate such regulations” as “determine[d] to be necessary to carry out this subtitle” (Sec. 210).

If S. 3525 becomes law, as written, anti-access advocates and the administration could usurp congressional authority by administrative fiat concerning the disposition of public lands. This bill has far-reaching implications because the BLM/USFS manages millions of acres of public land nationwide.

The AMA needs all its members and OHV enthusiasts to write their U.S. senators today. You can follow the “Take Action” option to send a pre-written email directly to your senators urging them to oppose any usurpation of congressional authority with regards to public land designations.

Image courtesy American Motorcyclist Association

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