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.