The feds regulate emissions and safety standards, but state and local governments legislate many parameters of vehicle customizing, such as lift heights and equipment inspections.
Wheelers face a double-whammy: Not only is aftermarket equipment under fire, but land closures threaten to severely limit how people can enjoy their 4x4s. Enter the SEMA Action Network (SAN), a coalition of enthusiasts, vehicle clubs, specialty auto parts manufacturers, and people who sell and install aftermarket parts. While SEMA lobbies legislators about proposed automotive laws, SAN's goal is keeping gearhead voters informed about pending legislation and regulations. The organization claims a reach of 30 million automotive enthusiasts. SAN membership is free.
The SAN website is packed with valuable information. It lists proposed equipment legislation and land closures. It also identifies auto-friendly legislators and has suggestions for how to productively communicate with elected officials. Vehicle and parts warranty issues are among the many other relevant topics addressed on the SAN website. We encourage all readers to sign up for SAN's mailing list immediately.
Other OHV Activism
Most wheelers are familiar with the organizations devoted to our cause. SAN embraces these and realizes the importance of presenting a unified voice.
"SEMA has partnered with a number of other land-use organizations in the fight to keep public lands open," says Stuart Gosswein, SEMA's senior director of federal government affairs. "Among many others, the list includes the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA), BlueRibbon Coalition (BRC), and Off-Road Business Association (ORBA). The organizations coordinate their activities in order to craft a consistent message. SEMA also hosts a meeting of the North American Motorized Recreation Council (NAMRC) every year at the SEMA Show. NAMRC is an alliance of groups in the motorized recreation community that share information and expertise with the goal of working collectively toward common goals. Membership includes a number of clubs and organizations such as the California Off-Road Vehicle Association (CORVA), East Coast Four Wheel Drive Association, Pacific Northwest Four Wheel Drive Association, Southwest Four Wheel Drive Association, and United Four Wheel Drive Associations."
No Surprise Canyon: California's most notorious Panamint Valley trail is closed to OHV tra
Each off-road/land-use advocacy organization has its own priority list. To our readers, United Four Wheel Drive Associations (UFWDA) is possibly best-known. As the umbrella organization for organized passenger-vehicle off-roading, UFWDA and its member clubs and regional associations around the globe are devoted to preserving and enhancing the 4x4 ownership experience.
Information: UFWDA, 800.448.3932, www.ufwda.org
BRC is another high-profile land-use organization. BlueRibbon Ambassador Del Albright says the organization's current priorities are as follows.
Johnson Valley/Hammers: At press time, OHV groups were awaiting the Environmental Impact Statement from the U.S. Marine Corps. While we support the military, we hope to help them find someplace else to train besides our OHV areas. What's more environmentally insensitive: combat training or recreational off-roading?
No Tellico: Located in North Carolina's Nantahala National Forest, the Upper Tellico OHV A
Water Quality: The California Association of 4 Wheel Drive Clubs (CA4WDC), representing state OHV organizations, is working with U.S. Forest Service and other stakeholders to develop a new water-quality management plan within California.
Lawsuits: BlueRibbon Coalition and CA4WDC are involved with three lawsuits in California involving access in Six Rivers National Forest, WEMO (BLM Desert District area), and four national forests in the south.
Tellico: BlueRibbon Coalition, United Four Wheel Drive Associations, and Southern 4Wheel Drive Association continue to fight in court for reopening Tellico OHV Area.
Information: BRC, 208.237.1008, www.sharetrails.org; CA4WDC, 800.4X4.FUNN, www.cal4wheel.com
Off-Road Business Association
ORBA is another organization that educates legislators about motorized recreation. Media Relations and Land Use Director Meg Grossglass forwarded the following hot-button issues.
USDA Forest Service, New Forest Planning Rule: In 2009 the Forest Service began open collaboration to address its current and future needs. ORBA is following this process closely and demands that the service recognize the health and economic benefits of OHV recreation. To comment, go to www.fs.usda.gov/planningrule.
S.2921, The California Desert Protection Act: A wide variety of stakeholders were consulted early on in the writing of this bill, including off-roaders, environmentalists, and local residents. S.2921 creates two national monuments that specifically allow OHV use on designated trails. It also proposes several new wilderness areas in which many existing OHV trails are excluded or cherry-stemmed to guarantee future access. Five OHV open areas that are currently only administratively designated for OHV use will be Congressionally designated as such in this bill. ORBA and several other California OHV advocacy organizations worked with Senator Diane Feinstein's office on this bill.
America's Great Outdoor, Listening Sessions: On April 16, 2010, President Obama signed a memorandum establishing the America's Great Outdoor Initiative to promote and support innovative community-level efforts to conserve outdoor spaces and to reconnect Americans to the outdoors. It is extremely important that off-roaders go to these meetings and talk about how OHV recreation brings their families closer, gets their children out of the house, and connects them with nature. Stress that OHV recreation should get more appropriated dollars and that every land management agency should be required to have a comprehensive OHV recreation plan that ensures the future of this valid use of public lands. Management by closure is no longer acceptable. Visit www.doi.gov/americasgreatoutdoors/Press-Release.cfm for details.
Information: ORBA, 661.323.1464, www.orba.biz