SALT LAKE CITY – Today BlueRibbon Coalition announced its support for the Outdoor Americans with Disabilities Act, which was introduced in the United States Senate by Senator Mike Lee (R) UT. The BlueRibbon Coalition (BRC) is a national 501c3 that advocates for Americans to be able to access and enjoy the benefits of outdoor recreation on public lands. BRC represents hundreds of thousands of outdoor recreation enthusiasts through its individual and organization membership program.

The Outdoor Americans with Disabilities Act would require federal land managers to analyze and evaluate the impact of road closures on Americans with disabilities. Motorized recreation creates meaningful access to the health and social benefits of outdoor recreation, and restrictions on motorized access create a disproportionate and discriminatory impact on Americans with disabilities. Land managers are not currently required to analyze the impacts of motorized route closures on disabled Americans, and the legislation would require land managers to maintain route density targets on public lands that would balance the needs of disabled Americans with other management priorities.

BlueRibbon Coalition is proud to represent a large number of disabled Americans, who cherish the benefits of outdoor recreation on public lands. The following statements from BRC members demonstrate strong public support for this legislation:

“On behalf of our members with disabilities, I would like to thank Senator Lee for his leadership on this issue. Federal land managers are required to analyze the impacts of their decisions on dirt, but they have no requirement to ensure that their decisions don’t hurt disabled Americans. Every time decisions are announced to close more of our backcountry roads, I hear from our disabled Americans that they feel discriminated against and ignored. Our federal land managers need strong guidance form Congress to manage our public lands in a way that benefits all Americans, and this legislation provides necessary and powerful protections.”

Ben Burr – Executive Director, BlueRibbon Coalition

As President of the Blue Ribbon Coalition, it has been very disappointing to watch the unprecedented amount of public land closures to motorized vehicle use over the past few years.  These closures do not contemplate the diverse needs of those who use the land.  I am excited to see this piece of legislation from Senator Mike Lee. We all have a right to enjoy public lands and this is a sure step in the right direction and an obvious solution to the challenge of access to those with disabilities. 

Ranch Pratt – President, BlueRibbon Coalition

“Without motorized access, those with special needs and disabilities – including many veterans – will not have access to public lands because they do not have the ability to hike, jump on a bike, or ride a horse. Motorized vehicles are essentially an extension of their body, it’s their legs to enjoy the same great outdoors that able-bodied citizens can enjoy. If you eliminate motorize access to public lands then you take out two user groups that have zero chance to ever experience these public lands. These user groups are not asking to forge new trails, they just want to keep existing routes and trails open so that they can get the same therapeutic experience from nature that able-bodied citizens have access to. At Trail Hero we have had over 5000 veterans and over 1000 people with special needs join us on trails throughout Utah over the last 9 years.”

Rich Klein – President/Founder, Trail Hero

I’m so glad that finally BLM and Forest Service will be required to make the same kind of accommodations that every business and other government agencies have complied with for years not only because it’s the law, but it’s the right thing to do. We’ve been continuously frustrated when we submit comments representing disabled and elderly members, and BLM either does not respond or does not respond affirmatively.

Loren Campbell, President, Utah Public Lands Alliance

As a pediatric cancer survivor with a completely reconstructed left leg, I thought my ability to enjoy the outdoors would be severely limited for the rest of my life. When I was introduced to recreational off-roading in my late 20’s, it felt like I was being given a huge part of my life back. I had the freedom and ability to explore and see places I would never have been able to see on my reconstructed left leg, due to its fragility and constant pain I live with. The Outdoor Americans with Disabilities Act is crucial to protecting access to the outdoors to those with disabilities – something we, as disabled Americans, shouldn’t have to worry about losing again. We all deserve the right to enjoy the outdoors, regardless of our physical circumstances, and protecting our accessibility to these places is life-saving to people like me.

Chelsie Carr, EZ Flate

As President of UTV Utah, one of the largest off-road groups in the state representing over 50,000 families, I strongly support the Outdoor Americans with Disabilities Act. This crucial legislation will ensure that individuals with disabilities are not excluded from the benefits of outdoor recreation on public lands. Our group has organized numerous rides for those with special needs, allowing them to experience the beauty of our public lands through motorized recreation. Without protected access to these roads and trails, many individuals with disabilities would be deprived of the chance to enjoy these natural spaces. The Act’s requirement for land management agencies to recognize motorized recreation as an important form of disability access is vital. We must safeguard this access to ensure that everyone, regardless of physical ability, can continue to enjoy the magnificent landscapes of Utah. I urge all stakeholders to support this essential legislation.

Bud Bruening, President, UTV Utah

“As the Safety and Education Coordinator I support any legislation that protects access for people like myself with mobility limitations. When access is restricted to non motorized use, thousands of people are denied the opportunity to experience that area.”

Christie Chatfield, Arizona State Association of 4 Wheel Drive Clubs

Please allow motorized use in the great outdoors

Ed Stovin, San Diego Off Road Coalition

One of the many blessings of this life is being able to spend time in the outdoors. The Positive affected it has on a persons mind and soul is almost indescribable. Taking away access for those with disabilities would take away the pleasure from them.

Nick Steinbach, Desert Raiders M/C

As a cancer survivor who is dealing with long term side effects from chemo it has limited my physical abilities. I can still hike short distances to see things from where I ride my ohv to but if ohv access gets eliminated and the hiking gets further then I would not be able to hike the full distance in. We should not be limiting access to our public lands. The discrimination against motorized and disabled users needs to stop!

Andy Gordon, Board Member, Castle Country OHV Association

I have been a lifetime OHV Enthusiast and have used both the state and federal lands in Idaho and surrounding states to recreate. I became disabled in 2021 and now require motorized vehicle access to use these public areas. I am ambulatory paraplegic. I am able to walk short distances but cannot traverse uneven ground very well. I require some kind of motorized assistance to get around out in the desert and the woods. Eliminating motorized access would eliminate me from being able to see and experience the forest and desert.

Jeff Bell

I am 83 and have recreated on public lands for over 60 years. Many of my fondness memories are of those activities. Personally some of my most rewarding experiences are sharing outdoor adventures with others who haven’t yet enjoyed those I have. Today, more recent route closures preclude me from revisiting and sharing those experiences with others. This isn’t only unfair to me, it is unjust to those with disabilities and can only enjoy our public lands where they have motorized access.

Glen Zumwalt, Tri-State ATV Association

I support the Outdoor Americans with Disabilities Act. Getting outdoors and recreating on our public lands is a right that all Americans should be able to enjoy. But those with Disabilities aren’t able to enjoy them in many cases, because they can’t access our public lands without the use of motorized transportation. The travel plans that are being implemented by the BLM and Forest Service completely disregard the needs of Americans with disabilities. Being able to get out and enjoy nature improves their mental health, and in many cases their physical health.

Steven Hawkins, Utah ATV Association

Desert Roads and Trails Society, (DRATS) is a 501 c-3 nonprofit, all- volunteer organization. Our mission statement emphasizes a strong belief that all public lands should be kept public, open, and accessible to anyone, regardless of physical ability. To demonstrate our commitment to open space and free, accessible public lands, DRATS has donated hundreds of thousands of dollars over the years to the Utah Public Lands Alliance and Blue Ribbon Coalition, both organizations who share our objective.

Bud Sanders, Board Member Desert Roads and Trails Society

At SLOREX we are passionate about sharing our love of the outdoors. Whether you are fit or disabled you should have the opportunities to enjoy the beautiful public land we are so lucky to live near.

Phil Rawlings, President, Salt Lake Off-Road Expo

Access to public property is about more than just recreation, it is a cornerstone of who we are and why we live in the areas we do. Camping, hunting and all forms of recreation are important to our health and well being physically and economically. To limit access affects both. I ask that you please maintain all roads and trails that have historically been in place.

Darrel Raver, North Idaho Trailblazers

Public lands should be enjoyed by all Americans, not just those who can trek long distances to access areas closed to other uses. Roads and trails are the common thread that hold all public land users together. If roads are closed all access is restricted.

Marcus Trusty, CORE

As a board member of Castle Country I support this. I wouldn’t have been able to see half the places I have with my family if we had to hike or were unable to get there on the sxs. Also, we have a disabled kid within our organization and he is able to drive or ride in a sxs with the group to see a bunch of these sites. If we lock up and close the trails he and everyone else with disabilities are then unable to see the same sites as the people who are physically fit enough to hike for miles. This seems to me to be discrimination at its most basic point.

Jerace Glover, Board Member Castle Country OHV Association

Since a small stroke in 2020 I have had limited mobility on my left side. I can walk about 50 yards and then I need help. My Jeep is my only way to access the back country and the many beautiful areas of the southwest. As a landscape and nature photographer any limitations to trail access has a direct effect on the areas I can experience, photograph and share. Please support the Bill to provide access for all Americans.

Steve Williams, Tucson Rough Riders

As a quadriplegic, motorized vehicle access is critical for backcountry travel. I am not strong enough to push a manual wheelchair in the local shopping mall much less down a dirt road or on a hiking trail. A standard power wheelchair is so terrible on uneven terrain that I can rarely make it down dirt roads. A motorized vehicle of some sort is really the only way I can get out and see things beyond what I can see from the paved road or nearest parking lot.

I recently took my paraplegic girlfriend on a trip near calico. We were able to see the wildflowers blooming on hills and canyons. Neither of us would have been able to see that without our Jeep.

Frank Alioto

Ensuring motorized accessibility on public land is not merely a matter of convenience; it’s a fundamental step towards inclusivity and equal opportunity for individuals with disabilities. By providing motorized access, we empower individuals who may otherwise face significant barriers to explore, enjoy, and benefit from the natural beauty and resources our public lands offer. It’s about fostering a sense of belonging and enabling everyone, regardless of their mobility limitations, to fully participate in outdoor activities, engage with nature, and experience the therapeutic benefits of the great outdoors. Prioritizing motorized accessibility is not just a matter of policy, but a declaration of our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion of every individual in our society.

Chad Hixson, Executive Director, Trails Preservation Alliance

Project Enduro for Vets is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to helping disabled and honorably discharged veterans enjoy the outdoors via offroad trail riding. Accessible access is vital for our disabled veteran members. Many of of our members have physical disabilities that prevent them from non-motorized access to public land. We believe responsible OHV activities should be a main consideration when creating trail and recreational management plans for public lands.

Jeff Rockett, Project Enduro for Vets

I was a paraplegic at age 12 from a blood clot on spinal cord caused permanent nerve damage I have very limited use of my legs. The only way I can see the great outdoors is motorized recreation Dennis Niemeier

Dennis Neimeier

I’m 45 years old, and my journey with physical health has been a long and challenging one. When I was 21, I weighed 450 pounds. I underwent gastric bypass surgery and lost 240 pounds, but the damage to my joints was already done. On top of that, I have six herniated discs in my back from injuries when I was younger. These issues have left me with a medical disability status of 25%, which isn’t going to improve as I age.

When trails get closed, it’s not just an inconvenience for me—it means those places are effectively off-limits forever. I’ve heard people say, “just walk,” but that’s not an option for many of us. This kind of response overlooks the reality that a lot of us in the ADA community simply can’t hike those trails. Off-roading isn’t just a hobby for me; it’s my way of connecting with nature and exploring the great outdoors, something I can’t do on foot.

JD Marshall, The TrailHead Podcast

America has put forth a tremendous effort to ensure people with disabilities have had access to ammenities, opportunities, employment, public spaces and public lands. Motorized access to public land using roads and trails for people with disabilities is paramount. Disabled hunters and fishermen, campers, 4 wheelers and OHV users, sight-seers and recreationalists must have access to public lands using roads and trails. Southwest Wyoming Off-road Trails (SWOT) supports keeping those roads and trails open.

Mark Tesoro, President, Southwest Wyoming Off-road Trails

Keeping access to public lands is a necessary and very important for all! It is especially important and necessary for those with disabilities and should be a priority just as important as Handicap access and parking is throughout America!!!??

Chad Hughes, Utah Public Lands Alliance

I also have some physical disabilities that prevent me from hiking all but the simplest smooth, level trails. Twelve years ago I had a total ankle replacement that makes it hard to walk on uneven surfaces. I also have peripheral neuropathy in my feet which affects my balance, making it even more difficult to walk on uneven terrain. Motorized recreation is the only way that I can access the scenic remote backcountry.

Lee Nelson

I’m a former mtb racer. Today I struggle due to long term effects from two cerebellar strokes and a brain aneurysm. My e-bike helps offset my one-sided muscle weakness. I’m stuck on the front range of Denver and look forward to the day I can ride my beloved trails in Winter Park.

Greta Bloomfield

during my 20s, 30s, 40s, I loved hiking  and building American trails. I was a Volunteer for Outdoor Colorado trail builder, crew leader, volunteered for trail building and maintenance at State parks.  Then my polio weakened hip went out.  Suddenly the only way to get near all my favorite places was by 4×4. Literally millions of former hikers, backpackers , many like me who literally built or rebult many of these trails, are now forced to use 4X4s or SXS to take us close to where we want to be. Most of us can still hike a mile or so but that is it.   We are paying more taxes than ever, and Forest Service is telling us we have no right to get close enough to use the very trails we built 30-40 years ago. FS is literally telling disabled people to”hike there” .  Going back to your favorite places is healing.  Most of my Jeep club group have similar physical disabilities even though they are not publicly on any disability group list. Most of us will never admit we are disabled.  We support BlueRibbon Coalition’s efforts to keep trails open to taxpayers.

Larry Nuse

I’ve had 5 heart surgeries and I don’t have the strength to walk far. I also have torn cartilage in both knees that prevent me from walking far. If I can’t use motorized access, then public land is effectively closed to me.

Rick Pratt

I’ve had one knee and one ankle replaced.  The knee actually isn’t a big problem–it really improved my ability to get around, within reason.  The ankle, however, IS a problem.  I simply can not walk long distances and I have trouble even with short distances over rough ground or trails.  If I want to get out and see the world in all it’s native glory I pretty much have to use some form of motorized transportation.  Currently, I use a Jeep.  I’m absolutely religious about keeping it on the roads and trails and not taking it where it isn’t supposed to go.  But I’m out almost every week traveling the back roads and trails and enjoying nature at it’s finest.  Take away my motorized transport and I can’t get out anymore.  And that would be a shame.

Griz Ward

I’ve been an outdoorsman my entire life.  From earning my Eagle Scout badge to retiring as an Army Infantryman, and later to backwoods treks with my pre-teen and teen kids in the mountains of Washington, I love and respect our public lands and wild places.  I transitioned to trail riding on dirtbikes and became a board member of the Northwest Motorcycle Association in Washington, literally contributing over 1,000 hours of volunteer trail work during COVID and training as a Forest Service certified sawyer and equipment operator.  I created a Facebook group (PNW Dirt Talk) with over over 32,000 members and a strong focus on trail maintenance and clearing as well as responsible operation and education.  I have figuratively and literally walked the walk for many years, but with the cumulative damage to my knees and hips and a critical pelvic injury which resulted in screws and plates, my days of hiking any significant distance with a pack are over.  Likewise, I can’t pedal a bicycle very far, and likely never will again.  I still want to be able to get out into the wild with friends and family, and I certainly feel like I’ve earned the right to access public land responsibly.  For these reasons, I strongly support the Blue Ribbon Coalition’s work to maintain and recover motorized and Class I e-bike access in our public lands.  I’ve worked and trained alongside Washington Trails Association, Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance, and the Backcountry Horsemen of Washington, and one thing is certain:  once we get to know each other, we consistently find we have more in common than not.  There’s enough room out there for all user groups to coexist.

Brian Englund

I’ve been an avid outdoorsman my entire life. Hunting, fishing, hiking, boating, skiing, dirt bikes, 4 wheelers, sxs and Jeeps. My wife and I have raised our kids to love the same experiences. Unfortunately, 4.5 years ago I sprained my ankle. 10 months later I had reconstructive surgery. A consequence of the surgery was  the diagnosis of Complex Regional Pain Syndrome. Just days after the surgery I knew I wasn’t healing correctly. The pain was severely disproportionate to what it should have been. I began a pain management regime, however it only takes the edge off. I’m no longer able to hike, walk well on uneven terrain or enjoy the outdoors without the use of my chosen mode of transportation, our Jeep. Getting into the Jeep community has really helped keep me stay connected with the outdoors in a new and exciting way. It motivates me and allows me to focus on something other than the extreme chronic pain.  I appreciate the Blue Ribbon Coalition and all they fight for! I’ve been lucky enough to meet Ben a couple of times at events and his knowledge is incredible. I’ve also met Chelsie a few time and her drive to fight for our freedom to recreate the way we need was also impressive. I

Brian Ritchie

My story involves 3 heart attacks and 30 orthopedic surgeries.  I had my first orthopedic surgery at age 18 because of severe osteoarthritis.  It all started with my right knee and have had knees, hips, shoulders, and back operated on multiple times.  The 3 MIs have limited the distance I can walk, and the other surgeries have limited how I walk.

I’ve been an avid outdoorsman for asking as I can remember, I enjoy shooting, fishing, and especially off-roading in my Jeep. I explore the West Coast and US Southwest as much as I possibly can.  I currently live in the Las Vegas area, but grew up in the PNW (Seattle) and love to get out and see the sights of our great nation wherever and whenever I can.  It seems a shame to cutoff access to OUR public lands for someone like me who struggles to get around but loves to enjoy the land as much as possible.  Please help fight the closures to OUR land for the unfortunate people like myself who can’t just get out and walk our trails.

David Newman

My family and I are an avid SXS and dirt bike family. For years I have enjoyed the Utah trails via my dirt bike, but in the last 8 years I now ride in our SXS far more than my bike. I have been diagnosed with Chronic Lyme Disease, Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (CIRS), Mast Cell Activation Syndrome (MCAS), Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS), Pelvic Vein Disorders and Chronic Pelvic Pain. As you can imagine, this has slowed me down some. But thanks the use of our OHV, I can still enjoy being out on the trail and enjoying the grand Utah wilderness. I am unable to hike or even ride a normal bicycle as my fatigue and tachycardic heart condition causes my heart rate to increase in the upright position without my blood pressure being able to adjust and then I pass out. The blood in my pelvis is unable to pump back up to my heart causing blood pooling and pain in my pelvis. As i stand upright for too long, especially in the heat, my chances for syncope increase. The size and shape of a normal bicycle seat causes pressure on my pelvis that causes the inflamed nerves to trigger a cascade of pain. Due to my MCAS, I am unable to take normal pain medications or even Ibuprofen or Tylenol as it causes hives and tachycardia. Our OHV is the relief and key to my enjoying access to my public lands. The time I spend with my family in our OHV is very relaxing and healing for me. Keeping our public lands public and accessible is a top priority for me. We have put over 9,000 miles on our OHV in the last 5 years enjoying trails on Utah’s public lands. This is our favorite thing to do. We do not vacation in any other way. Our money and investments are 100% into the sport of off-roading.

Bridgette Braegger

As an off-roader who suffers from debilitating rheumatoid arthritis, this issue is near and dear to my heart. Without the open trails I would never get to experience all that the land has to show me, which in turn makes me want to preserve it to share with future generations. Please keep access available for those of us with challenges!

Tiffany Smith

I have lived in Utah my whole life, and though I enjoy hiking, as I get older that is no longer an option. Short hikes are ok, but the longer ones that would give me access to some of these places would be out of reach for me. Yeah there arer pictures and videos, but unless you are actually standing there with the sun and wind, you don’t know how beautiful it is out in Southern Utah.

Stephen Featherstone

I enjoy being able to access the back country with my disabilities.

Michael Gray, Colorado Off Highway Vehicle Coalition

I spent 27 years as a fire fighter and retired with a decreased lung function. I enjoy camping, fishing, and spending time in the outdoors. Please do not cutoff my access to public lands because I cannot walk.

Don Jensen, PNW4WDA

I am a 100% disabled Veteran. I am able to get out and do some mteal detecting on our gold claims and Public Lands. But when roads close and fence or gates go up only those without physical limitations can get in these lands to do what we do. I can no longer get to some of the best prospecting grounds now, due to road closures. I use detecting and prospecting as my form of physical and mental therapy to better cope with the multitude of disabilities I incurred through 23 years as a Marine. This Act would help tremendously.

Greg Herring, First Class Miners, Inc.

Please keep our public lands open so those that have served our country and are injured can enjoy the outdoors.

Ken Hilfiker, Pagosa Trail Riders

We have enjoyed camping and riding dirt bikes with our children, then ATVs after retirement. Now at 84 yrs old enjoy side by side RZR. Have fought to keep trails open for over 50 years. Please stop closing “OUR” land so more families can raise their children in the outdoors and then continue to enjoy it in retirement.

Linda Davis

I am an avid outdoorsman, and disable veteran. During my 27 years of Military service I suffered many injuries including head injury in Afghanistan and lower back fracture in Iraq.

I used to be big into mountaineering, but had to stop due to the above stated injuries. I now enjoy the mountains and back country using an off road vehicle. Being able to travel on motorized trails into the mountains and forests allows me to relieve stress and keeps me on an even keel. 

Every trail closure and wilderness area developed reduces mine and hundreds of veterans like me from accessing public lands for recreation and relaxation. Please take this into consideration when supporting the Outdoor Americans with Disabilities Act.

Eric Garten

If you would like to have your comments and experiences included please do so below.