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Senate Bills Would Bog Down West Coast OHV Areas

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Joined: 01 Jan 2004
Location: Uzbekistan

PostPosted: Tue Aug 09, 2005 9:52 am    Post subject: Senate Bills Would Bog Down West Coast OHV Areas Reply with quote

The United States Senate passed two bills to create wilderness areas in Washington State and Northern California. Off-highway vehicles (OHVs) would be banned from the areas since wilderness is by definition “roadless.”

For the third time in three years, the Senate voted to create the 106,000-acre Wild Sky Wilderness (S. 152) in Washington's Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest. The bill has previously died in the House. The Senate also passed legislation (S. 128) to designate as wilderness 300,000-acres in Northern California’s Del Norte, Humboldt, Lake, Mendocino and Napa counties.

SEMA opposes the legislation since it would close existing, legal OHV roads and trails. Alternatively, SEMA supports a “backcountry designation” that would generally protect the lands as wilderness but also designate areas for motorized recreation where appropriate. Regulators would be directed to inventory existing roads and trails and designate authorized routes. This approach has been proposed by the BlueRibbon Coalition and federal lawmakers, including House Resources Committee Chairman Richard Pombo (R-Calif.).

Under guidelines established last year by Chairman Pombo, any legislation to create federal wilderness areas must have broad local support before it will be considered. A House Resources subcommittee recently heard conflicting testimony from local residents about the merits of the Northern California bill along with calls for the compromise backcountry designation. It is unclear when or if the House Resources Committee will take up the two Senate bills. For details, contact Jason Tolleson at
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