February 5th, 2014 —
The AMA Office will be closed today due to inclement weather and treacherous road conditions in Central Ohio.
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Position In Support Of Access To Public Lands

Position in Support of Access to Public Lands

The American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) supports responsible recreational access to public lands for the use of off-highway vehicles (OHVs), including off-highway motorcycles, dual-sport motorcycles and all-terrain vehicles (ATVs). This access should be administered by professional land managers to meet the needs of participants, protect the land and promote responsible use.

While the AMA recognizes that no single recreation type is appropriate for every setting, there are certainly many places where OHV use can exist in harmony with other uses while preserving important natural and cultural resources.

Management of our national public lands is guided by the Multiple Use - Sustained Yield Act of 1960. The act encourages a wide variety of activities, provided that they take place in harmony with natural resource values.

The Benefits of OHV Use

The AMA supports responsible OHV recreation because of its many benefits.

Most easily documented among the myriad benefits is the enhancement of the economy. According to the Off-Road Business Association, a 1993 economic-impact study in California indicated that the contribution of OHVs to the state’s economy was more than $3 billion; current estimates suggest that figure has doubled or even tripled. A 2002 Arizona State University study showed that OHV recreation for that year created a statewide economic impact of $4.25 billion. The Department of Agricultural Economics at the University of Tennessee reported that the economic impact of OHVs amounts to $3.4 billion. The Institute for New Hampshire Studies at Plymouth State University documented that the OHV impact on the state’s economy was approximately $318 million from July 2002 to June 2003.

Public lands benefit as well. OHV enthusiasts are known to be public spirited and civic minded, volunteering their time for activities such as trail maintenance, area clean-ups and safety patrols.

OHV recreation is a physically demanding activity performed exclusively outdoors. Taking part provides the same personal stress reduction and exercise benefits to the individual found in other physically demanding outdoor activities.

Responsible OHV recreation is also a social and family activity. Participants often develop friendships with other like-minded individuals, and enjoy an enhanced quality of life by pursuing an activity in which family members can partake.

Broader benefits also exist. In our increasingly urban and suburban landscape, the preservation of open space has become increasingly important. Public lands designated for responsible OHV recreation remain undeveloped green space. Recreational trails and dirt-road travel routes are corridors that allow the surrounding land and high-level canopy to remain as natural habitat for plants and wildlife. The opportunity to experience these natural settings instills a greater appreciation for the value of open space and our natural resources.

Related AMA Positions

The AMA supports management that recognizes the value of responsible OHV recreation and works to improve the availability of recreational sites and activities.

The AMA supports actions by land managers and agencies that increase quality OHV recreational opportunities. This includes increases in trail mileage (and quality of the experience), maintenance of trails, and the development of trailhead and trailside amenities and facilities.

The AMA supports actions by land managers and local jurisdictions to secure and protect access to historic and established routes of travel into and across public lands.

The AMA supports actions that invite OHV enthusiasts to participate in the public lands management process. This includes the encouragement of volunteer efforts, participation in program and project-level decision-making and acts to implement program and project decisions.

The AMA supports legislation and administrative actions that recognize the value of OHV recreational opportunities, improve professional management, and develop and strengthen OHV recreation funding sources.

The AMA supports the development of collaborative efforts with other recreation and special interest groups, especially those interested in trail-based recreation, in order to improve understanding and respect among all members of the trails community and to enhance the diverse recreational trails opportunities available to all Americans.

The AMA supports scholarly research that objectively portrays the role of OHV recreation and its relationship to participants, the environment and society. It is expected that researchers will make every effort to develop an understanding with OHV enthusiasts of the purpose, method and proposed use of such studies.

The AMA recognizes that there may be limited situations that justify an emergency closure of recreational lands or trails despite a lack of scientific documentation. However, if such a closure is performed, the responsible agency has thereby created an obligation to immediately commence an objective scientific study to determine how and when the lands or trails may be reopened for their former recreational uses. The AMA also encourages alternative sites be opened if a recreational area is going to be closed for an extended period of time.

The AMA will assist and encourage its membership and other enthusiasts to develop cooperative relationships with land managers and land management agencies. This includes volunteerism, working with management to document activities and interacting with other recreational and local interests.

The AMA opposes actions that restrict reasonable OHV recreational opportunities that prevent enthusiasts from participating in a meaningful manner in the public lands management process, that reduce the quality of recreational opportunities or limit legal, existing routes of travel into and through public land areas.

The AMA will, at its discretion, take steps to challenge any decisions that result in inadequate or inequitable quality recreational opportunities for OHV enthusiasts.