This July the House of Representatives passed the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act. You would think that those who passed the bill would be touting its benefits to our troops, celebrating new programs to keep Americans safe, and maintaining the basic needs of our military during a pandemic.
Instead, several members of the House of Representatives celebrated their success in sneaking over 1 million acres of wilderness designations into the House version of the defense bill.
The Protecting America’s Wilderness Act – introduced by Representative Degette from Colorado – is the first bill that was added to the NDAA. This bill will restrict recreation access to 1.4 million acres of land located primarily in areas traditionally designated as multiple use in Colorado, California, and Washington. Wilderness is the most restrictive land-use designation, and wilderness designations always result in loss of access for numerous public land users. The bill’s sponsor falsely claims wilderness designation will provide economic benefits to the surrounding areas. By restricting motorized recreation, wilderness designations limit that sizable economic impacts that could come from shared-use management of public lands.
The CORE Act – introduced by Representative Neguse – was also added to the NDAA. This bill would impact access in another 400,000 acres in Colorado.
Fortunately the Senate version of the NDAA did not include these provisions that will destroy recreation access while having nothing to do with our national defense. However, it is still possible that Congress could include these provisions in the conference version of the NDAA. In fact, the Senate held hearings this week on this very topic.
Bills that restrict access should have to be debated on their own merits and not added to defense bills. It is urgent that we contact members of Congress and tell them we don’t want any lame duck wilderness bills.
The most important members to contact are Senator Murkowski from Alaska. She is the Chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. These land bills should have gone through her committee, and she should use her seniority to make sure that these bills follow the regular order of the Senate. You can reach Senator Murkowski’s office at 202-224-6665.
It is also important to contact Senator Inhofe from Oklahoma. He is the Senator who will ultimately determine what gets included in the final version of the NDAA. You can reach Senator Inhofe’s office at 202-224-4721.
Remember to be courteous when you contact their offices and let them know you don’t support these lame duck land grabs. It is also good to always contact your own representatives on issues like these.
We will contact these offices and others as well, and if you want to sign the following petition, we will make sure your comment is considered.
As a motorized recreationist from Colorado, my ability to enjoy our public lands will be directly harmed by these wilderness bills. Where they don’t close motorized routes outright, they will cherry-stem them into wilderness, creating immense pressure to close those routes in the next travel management process to “reduce harm to wilderness values.” Colorado has more than enough wilderness already. It does not need any more.
This is everyone’s land not just a select few.
You ALL need to STOP adding AMENDMENTS to bills that DONT HAVE ANYTHING TO DO WITH THE ORIGINAL BILL ( STOP THE PORK )… really wilderness in a Defense Bill???
Most people dont use wilderness, we don’t walk 50 miles in then back to go camping. This leaves many of us unable to visit our wilderness unless you are rich and can afford outfitters, or buy all of the equipment needed. What about the handicapped? We already have a lot of wilderness set aside for those few people who use it. Why would you even consider adding a wilderness bill to a defense bill!!!!! No wonder congress fights so much and either gets nothing done or takes way to long. Quit the bickering and get stuff done. Like bills with Like bills, DUH!
Northwest Motorcycle Association, representing the interests of thousands of offroad motorcyclists in Washington, does not support this bill because it includes proposal of Wilderness Designations for land in Washington and other states. These riders should be struck from the bill. Further, Wilderness Designations cannot be created without extensive public engagement and support.
President, Northwest Motorcycle Association
Off road use including mountain bikes, Ebikes and motorized trail bikes should be retained. We have increasingly limited trails which forces conflicts as multi use trails are reduced.
I do not support any new wilderness designations with out proper public input and scientific research.
No bill that is not defense related should be included in the “National Defense Athorization Act” including The Protecting America’s Wilderness Act!
As an avid outdoor recreation advocate I do not like the way a “Widerness” designation excludes and discriminates against so many groups of public land users.
private property rights are threatened in surrounding communities. removal of roads and access. remaining usage area become overcrowded. increased fire danger. this bill was rejected soundly several times by the communities surrounding and effected by its implementation. it cant pass by its own merit, it had to sneak its way in.
Designating lands as wilderness is Ableism. It is a form of discrimination, plain and simple.
Please keep forest areas open to all recreational isn’t, not just a small segment. The wild should be enjoyed by all Americans, and the country should be doing everything possible to get people out into nature, not closing it off.
As a disabled veteran, I need the ability to use a motorized conveyance to get into the back country. If designated a wilderness area, I would not be able to ride an electric bike or motorcycle, and those lands would be inaccessible to me forever.
I immensely enjoy the outdoors. Wilderness designation is a form of discrimination. It only allows hikers and horses on public lands. All others are banned from enjoying their public land. I can still hike, but my dad cannot go as far as I can anymore. So to enjoy the land together we often use mechanized travel. More restrictions limit the land he can use. Keep America’s public lands free!
In these hard times it is now more important than ever to get outside with your loved ones and share the same experiences that you each enjoy. My wife and 2 sons recreate outdoors together and this land grab is taking these precious moments away from us. Please fight for the rights of the american people and not against us.
I am a retired veteran and avid motorcycle rider. I did not support this country so they could take away my ability to enjoy the lands of this country. The trails and riding areas make up such a minuscule portion of the wilderness, yet we seem to have a non-stop fight to keep what very little there is. We need to add more trails, maintenance and facilities to support a growing population, and reverse this corrupted mindset bound to remove access from the people.
Please don’t lock up more of our public lands so that only special interest can visit these lands. Doing so denies access to many people including the handicapped.