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McCarthy, Cook, and McClintock Lead Fight to Ensure OHV Access to Public Lands

Today, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Congressman Paul Cook, and House Natural Resources Committee Federal Lands Subcommittee Chairman Tom McClintock authored and signed onto a letter to the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Acting Director Brian Steed requesting new policy and guidelines for BLM state and field offices to implement Independent Monitoring Programs (IMP) at competitive off-highway vehicle (OHV) events on Federal land to avoid triggering Cost Recovery. 

McCarthy released the following statement:

“In California, we are blessed to have access to some of the most awe-inspiring public lands on the planet and many communities, such as those in eastern Kern County, rely on access to public lands for OHV tourism and recreation.

“Americans should be free to utilize our public lands freely and fairly, while abiding with all regulations. Unfortunately, BLM’s current Cost Recovery policy denies many small and medium-sized OHV groups from being able to fully enjoy or to hold competitive events on BLM land because of exorbitant fees.

An IMP would allow outside groups to partner with state and local BLM offices to provide trained volunteers who would be responsible for certain BLM staff monitoring activities at OHV events, all with the goal of preventing Cost Recovery from triggering.  Such a change would be a win-win for our community – it would expand access for OHV users while bringing more tourists to stimulate our local economy. It would also ensure that BLM regulations are met, all without increasing costs for OHV event sponsors or the BLM. I remain committed to ensuring access to our public lands, and it is my every hope that the Trump Administration and Acting Director Steed will heed the call to promote OHV recreation through innovative public-private partnerships by developing an IMP.” 

Congressman Paul Cook released the following statement:

“Current policies are making it difficult, costly, and burdensome for OHV groups to hold popular competitive events on BLM land. Many of these groups simply can’t afford the costs associated with obtaining Special Recreation Permits, particularly smaller events that often benefit charity. In my district, we have a number of these events every year. It’s important that we ensure these events can continue without undue costs and with clear regulations that make it easy to comply. I hope the BLM will commit to developing an Independent Monitoring Program to ensure that constituents can continue to enjoy our public lands.” 

Federal Lands Subcommittee Chairman Tom McClintock released the following statement:

“For many years, we have seen increasingly severe restrictions on the public’s use of the public land.  One of the most galling aspects of this policy is the use of exorbitant fees to prevent many group events that are often the economic mainstay of small communities.  These fees, along with complex planning requirements, have virtually shut down many legitimate traditional public events and uses, said Congressman McClintock.  The implementation of uniform guidelines for this program will provide long-overdue relief.”  

Community OHV leaders issues the following statements

“I am grateful to see Congress address the need for an Independent Monitoring Program. Such policy would work to ensure that small, non-profit clubs such as the Off Road Business Association can continue to recreate on our public lands without being hindered by burdensome permitting costs. I am hopeful that the BLM will understand the importance of making this necessary change.”

Fred Wiley, President/CEO of the Off Road Business Association

“For groups like the American Motorcycle Association to continue to thrive, it is absolutely critical that the BLM reduce the cost burden on non-profit clubs to host events on public lands. I am heartened to Congress take action on an issue that impacts so many of us in the OHV community, and will be looking forward to hearing the BLM’s response.”

Jerry Grabow, American Motorcycle Association (AMA) District 37 Legislation Officer


BLM Special Recreation Permits (SRPs) are issued to groups and individuals for special purposes, such as competitive OHV events.  To learn more about SRPs, click here.

If a SPR requires more than 50 hours of BLM staff, Cost Recovery is triggered, significantly increasing costs to event sponsors.

An IMP would allow outside organizations to partner with BLM to train volunteers to take over certain, non-law enforcement BLM staff monitoring activities at SRP events to avoid Cost Recovery.

To view the congressional letter to BLM, click here.

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