Motorcycle Industry Council Talks With Lawmakers About Access to National Forests


Washington D.C. Capital Building

More Access to Land for Motorcyclists?

Members of the Motorcycle Industry Council (MIC) and outdoor recreation industry leaders met with Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, Under Secretary for Natural Resources and the Environment Jim Hubbard and other officials. According to the press release, the goal of the meeting was to discuss improving access to lands managed by the U.S. Forest Service.

The MIC and other officials want to see more access afforded to motorized recreational vehicles, like dirtbikes, motorcycles, and ATVs. Paul Vitrano, MIC Board chairman and senior assistant general counsel at Polaris Industries, attended the meetings. He discussed this need with Perdue, Hubbard, and other officials.

National forests are at the heart of recreation for Americans, and we made clear to Secretary Perdue that access to trails for motorized vehicles, addressing the maintenance backlog and investing in ways to expand and enhance recreation infrastructure are key to helping rural economies and the recreation economy thrive.

MIC President and CEO Tim Buche said the meeting also addressed how the government shutdown has negatively affected safety and access to the lands. He also noted how lack of safety and access has hurt the communities surrounding those lands.

“We must change the way shutdowns are handled in the future so public lands can remain open and safe for all,” Buche said.

Motorized recreational vehicle use wasn’t the sole reason for the meeting. The group also addressed the needs of other recreational activities, including anglers, skiers, hikers, climbers, campers, paddlers and boaters.

Much of the focus of the meeting was on the economic factors at work. The parks and forests play an integral role in the economy. The small communities around the parks and forest rely heavily on the lands for the influx of visitors. With the parks and forest closed or experiencing restricted access, those communities struggle.

A Long Way to Go

Industry leaders also brought up several opportunities for improvement. They include partnerships with USDA for increasing broadband access, expanding recreational infrastructure and campgrounds, revamping the recreation.gov website, and simplifying permit processes and eliminating park maintenance backlog.

Government officials said they will focus on providing access to land owned by the U.S. Forest Service. He also said he’s interested in hearing ideas from industry leaders. 

While the meeting seemed to be mostly positive. However, that doesn’t change there’s little to do until the government shutdown ends. Government officials can make all the promises they want. Without funding for those parks, it’ll be hard to execute.

I hope government officials will find a way to end the shutdown soon so that industry leaders and government officials can further expand access to motorized recreational vehicles and other outdoor recreational activities. It’s important not only for the participants of those activities but the economies local to those areas.

 

 

3 Comments

  1. Avatar
    greenboy
    January 17, 2019
    Reply

    Seems like the headline would be more accurate and less inflammatory if it mentioned National Forests rather than National Parks. Increased access for motorcycles is practical and desirable for the National Forests and BLM perhaps… but the way it’s worded now it’s just going to antagonize so many people.

    • Wade Thiel
      January 17, 2019
      Reply

      Thanks for pointing that out. The article has been updated for accuracy. In the press release, MIC President and CEO Tim Buche, did mention parks instead of forests, which is where the confusion stemmed from.

  2. Avatar
    Thomas Mitchell
    January 18, 2019
    Reply

    From what I have seen, there is plenty of access already. Plated dual-sport bikes are allowed on any forest roads that other vehicles are allowed on, as well as on designated trails with, perhaps, additional OHV registration. Unfortunately, enthusiast groups efforts to “self-police” are insufficient and there are too many yahoos damaging public lands and disturbing the peace with illegally modified machines on public lands already. As for parks, OHVs don’t belong and they should have decibel monitors at the gates to keep the loud pipes fools outside!

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