SEMA eNews, Vol. 10, No. 11 – March 14, 2007
OHV ACCESS DENIED
House Panel Approves Washington Wilderness Bill
The House Natural Resources Committee approved legislation (HR 886) to create a 106,000-acre wilderness area in Washington's Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest. While the Senate has approved the measure three times in the last five years, this marks the first time in which the bill was approved by the House Committee. The SEMA-opposed bill would close existing roads and trails.
Wilderness designations are consequential to SEMA members since they potentially deny access to off-roaders and the equipment they purchase for back-country activities (since “wilderness” is by definition “roadless”). SEMA supports cooperative approaches to wilderness issues, such as establishing adjacent or nearby areas that are open to off-highway use. This includes “cherry-stem” roads as OHV corridors within the wilderness areas.
Last year lawmakers failed to pass a SEMA-supported approach to set aside about 93,000 acres of the “Wild Sky Wilderness” in Washington and also create a 13,000-acre "backcountry wilderness management area" to maintain the previously developed lands and roads. Democrats who now control the House are more focused on securing the wilderness designation than also keeping a small portion available for motorized recreation. No compromise to include the 13,000 acres is expected when the bill is scheduled for a vote by the full House of Representatives. SEMA will work to pursue a more balanced approach when the Senate considers its version of the bill. Details: Jason Tolleson at firstname.lastname@example.org