The Wilderness vs. Recreation Debate Rages: Where Do You Stand?

Written by Tim Kessel, Courtesy of

It would be an extremely rare (and shortsighted) individual who would contend that there is no need for wilderness protection.  However, there is a raging national debate as to what constitutes wilderness.  Here is the dilemma.  If our governmental protection of wilderness is too limited, our children will inherit a molested natural environment.  However, if too much is designated as wilderness, society’s access to outdoor recreation is unduly restricted.

Concerns of over-designation were recently prompted by President Obama’s proclamation declaring September 2010 as “National Wilderness Month.”  He reminded listeners in his address that he had signed the Omnibus Public Lands Management Act, which is a highly controversial piece of legislation that permanently closed 2 million acres of the nation’s public land to off-highway motorcycles, all-terrain vehicles and all other motorized vehicles by designating the land as Wilderness.

The American Motorcyclist Association has stated its concern that this policy is dangerous because much of the land designated as wilderness does not stand up to the legal definition of Wilderness established by Congress in 1964.  Former AMA Senior Vice President for Government Relations, Ed Moreland made the following statement:

“The AMA supports appropriate Wilderness designations.  However, when those lands include roads, trails, power lines, dams, bridges and structures, they do not meet the clear definition of Wilderness. All recreationists must protest these unfair measures before responsible motorized access to public land is lost forever.”

So the question is: What is the fair and logical balance between wilderness protection and recreational access?  We would like to hear from the readers of All About Bikes.  This is an issue for anyone who spoons a knobby on a dirt-bike rim; just as it is an issue for anyone who cares about the environment we leave for our children.  So where do you stand?