A08018 Contact: Pete terHorst
March 19, 2008 Telephone: (877) 877-8969
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
NEW OFF-ROAD TRAILS BANNED IN WASHINGTON STATE
PICKERINGTON, Ohio--In a last-minute maneuver, Washington State lawmakers effectively banned the creation of new motorized off-road riding trails and facilities for at least a year, even though the state will continue collecting fees and taxes from those trail users, the American Motorcyclist Association reports.
The amendment to the budget bill was inserted at the last minute during a late-night conference committee meeting, leaving no chance for public input or debate, said AMA Western States Representative Nick Haris.
"It's hard to say which is more outrageous: the way this language was inserted in the bill in the dark of night, or the fact that the state of Washington plans to keep taking gasoline tax money and registration fees from off-road vehicle users -- money that is supposed to be used to create off-road recreation opportunites -- while giving the ORV community nothing in return for at least an entire year," said Haris.
The proposed state budget, which covers the period from July 1, 2008 to June 30, 2009, was approved by the full legislature on March 13 and the measure, ESHB2765, is now on Gov. Christine Gregoire's desk.
The ban on new trails and facilities was contained in a single paragraph buried on page 75 of a 129-page bill by a six-member conference committee that hammered out Senate and House differences over the proposed budget before sending the document to the floors of both chambers for final approval. The conference committee members were Sens. Karen Fraser (D-Thurston County), Debbie Regala (D-Tacoma) and Dale Brandland (R-Bellingham); and House members Bill Fromhold (D-Vancouver-Clark County), Shay Schual-Berke (D-SeaTac) and Joyce McDonald (R-Puyallup).
In the section of the budget that provides funding for the Department of Natural Resources recreation renovations, those lawmakers inserted 11th-hour language that reads:
"The department shall not plan for, or construct, new or expanded facilities or trails for off-road vehicles for recreation on state lands until after June 30, 2009, unless the project is already funded, has been considered as part of a landscape-level plan for recreation that has completed State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) review, which included public participation, and is the best alternative to protect environmental or trust resources and public safety from immediate risk."
"These legislators owe the OHV community an explanation for why this language was added to the bill with no opportunity for public comment," said Haris. "Additionally, the AMA calls on Governor Gregoire to use her line-item veto to remove this unfair amendment from the budget bill."
The American Motorcyclist Association: rights. riding. racing. Founded in 1924, the AMA is a non-profit organization with 290,000 members. The Association's purpose is to protect and promote the interests of motorcyclists, while serving the needs of its members. For more information, visit the AMA website at http://www.AMADirectlink.com