The American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) has announced that it supports several provisions in the Omnibus Appropriations Act now navigating the circuitous route through congress. The huge funding bill contains provisions that would prevent the application of the Wild Lands initiative. The bill also supports conservation attempts directed towards keeping the sage-grouse off the endangered species list. Finally, it would compel the disclosure of how Equal Access to Justice Act funds were being spent.
The first provision outlined by the AMA would keep the U.S. Bureau of Land Management from restricting access to sites it considers to be “Wild Lands” without congressional approval. “The AMA believes that if access is going to be limited on public land, then it should be done according to the strict guidelines in the Wilderness Act of 1964,” said Wayne Allard, AMA vice president for government relations. “Public debate and input is crucial in determining Wilderness areas, and Congressional oversight helps ensure that the views of all user groups can be heard and that responsible access to public land is protected.”
The sage-grouse should benefit from the provision in the Omnibus Act that supports efforts to encourage the regrowth of the bird’s population through preserving and rehabilitating its habitat. By keeping the sage-grouse off the Endangered Species List the AMA feels this could allow for the recovery of the bird’s population while not restricting public access to federal lands.
The provision requiring the disclosure of the costs associated with requests under the Freedom of Information Act and the fees paid by the Dept. of the Interior, the U.S. Forest Service and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency under the Equal Access to Justice Act. According to U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho), “Frivolous lawsuits are one of the largest unbudgeted costs for land management agencies,” Simpson said. “They divert funding away from critical priorities, but they are rarely accounted for by those agencies.”
The AMA will track any developments while the Omnibus Act as it progresses through the U.S. Senate.
[Source: American Motorcyclist Association]