Legal Update From the AMA

Brent Avis
by Brent Avis
An Idaho federal judge has issued an order blockingimplementation of former President Clinton's roadless initiative that would banroad-building and commercial activities on almost 60 million acres of nationalforest, the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) reports.

The action, coupled with the Bush administration's prior announcement thatit would propose amendments to the roadless plan in June, may createopportunities to expand protections for multiple-use recreation on these federallands...

While the land is called roadless, it contains thousands of miles of dirtroads and trails used by motorcyclists, all-terrain vehicle users, horse riders,hikers and others. Even though the AMA and other motorcycling groups weresuccessful in getting recognition of motorized recreation as a legitimate use ofthese lands in the final version of the plan, trail riders remain concerned thatthe roadless initiative might allow feeder roads to deteriorate, choking offaccess to riding and other recreational areas.

On May 10, U.S. District Court Judge Edward Lodge issued a preliminaryinjunction stopping implementation of the initiative as a result of a lawsuitfiled by the state of Idaho and others. The suit charged that the Clintonadministration violated the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) by decidingon the roadless rules before involving the public in the rule-making.

Earlier, Lodge had ruled that there was "strong evidence" that the U.S.Forest Service failed to present a "coherent proposal" or engage in a"meaningful dialogue." The end result, the judge said, "was predetermined."The rules were to go into effect May 12.

Meanwhile, Idaho Attorney General Alan Lance said he would seek a permanentinjunction against the roadless plan. The U.S. government hadn't decided whetherit would appeal Lodge's decision.

The AMA has maintained from the beginning that decisions involving thepublic use of public lands should be openly debated and voted on in Congressrather than being dictated administratively.

With these new developments, Royce Wood, AMA legislative affairsspecialist, suggested that off-highway motorcyclists, all-terrain vehicle usersand others interested in outdoor recreation need to let the Bush administrationknow that it should maintain recreational access to public land. One way to dothat is by going to the AMA website at and clicking on theAMA Rapid Response Center logo. There, you'll find a message you can send to theappropriate federal officials just by filling in your name and clicking abutton.

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Brent Avis
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