In a hearing today before the House Subcommittee on National Parks, Forest and Public Lands, Outdoor Industry Association voiced the outdoor industrys concerns over H.R. 1581, a bill that will remove protections for all Bureau of Land Management Wilderness Study Areas and U.S. Forest Service Roadless Areas.   

H.R. 1581 is harmful legislation that makes a sweeping decision on Wilderness Study Areas and Roadless Areas without a full understanding of the consequences on communities and industries like outdoor recreation, said Frank Hugelmeyer, president and CEO of Outdoor Industry Association, who testified before the House subcommittee. 

H.R. 1581, the Wilderness and Roadless Release Act of 2011, proposes to release roughly 62 million acres of federally managed lands from protection, including seven million acres of Wilderness Study Areas (WSA) managed by the Bureau of Land Management and 55 million acres of Roadless Areas managed by the Forest Service. 

Instead, OIA recommends the following action:

  • Stand by the 2001 Roadless Rule.  The Roadless Rule was founded after careful inventories, agency planning and nearly 600 public hearings that gathered input from the American people.

  • Wilderness Study Areas have been in limbo, and outdoor businesses support efforts to move forward on wilderness review and designation that utilizes a local, collaborative process.  Until this happens, protections for these Wilderness Study Areas must remain in place.

The outdoor industry urges Congress to recognize that a balanced economic approach to decision-making about our public lands will benefit local communities-both urban and rural-and considers a full spectrum of uses that includes outdoor recreation within the nations roadless and wilderness areas.

Outdoor Industry Association testimony is posted here and also available on the House Natural Resources Committee Web site.