The funding measure that will keep the federal government operating through Sept. 30 includes language that bars the Interior Department from using any money to carry out the controversial Wild Lands land-use policy, the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) reports.
If adopted, the language in the bill would be a major victory for off-highway vehicle (OHV) riders and others concerned with responsible recreation on public land. Language in the Fiscal Year 2011 Continuing Resolution negotiated by the House, Senate and White House and unveiled on April 12 specifically states that no federal money “may be used to implement, administer, or enforce Secretarial Order No. 3310 issued by the Secretary of the Interior on Dec. 22, 2010.”
The full House and Senate have yet to vote on the measure. They are expected to do so later this week.
“This is evidence that the voices of off-highway riders and others who want public lands returned to the public were heard on Capitol Hill,” said Ed Moreland, AMA senior vice president for government relations.
Secretarial Order 3310 created the Wild Lands land-use designation that essentially allows federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) officials to manage public land as if it had received a Wilderness designation from Congress, but without requiring congressional approval. This new policy was widely expected to restrict or eliminate responsible off-highway vehicle (OHV) use in the affected areas.
“This is a prime example of why Congress must exercise vigorous oversight of the Obama Administration,” said Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings. “The Wild Lands policy expressly circumvents Congress’ statutory authority to establish Wilderness areas. Under this policy, the public’s access to public lands can be limited or halted entirely – impacting our economy, jobs, recreation opportunities and American energy production. Millions of acres of multi-use land in the West are at risk of being locked-up if the Administration carries out this policy.”