Not Out of the Woods Yet – S. 22, the Omnibus


Although it is great news that the House of Representatives failed to pass S. 22, the Omnibus Public Land Management Act, we are not quite out of the woods (pardon the pun) yet…

Read this email (reposted) sent to me from ARRA-Access:

March 13, 2009 – On March 11, 2009, the House of Representatives failed to pass S. 22, the Omnibus Public Land Management Act that would ban OHV access to over two million acres of public lands.  ARRA members sent thousands of letters to the House opposing this legislation. We commend you for your hard work and dedication!

As you know, this legislation includes 160 public lands measures including the National Landscape Conservation System (NLCS) Act.  The bill would create more than two million acres of wilderness while authorizing dozens of studies for potential parks, protected rivers and historical landmarks in addition to statutorily establishing the NLCS.  The NLCS consists of 26 million acres of specially designated Bureau of Land Management lands and if codified by law would almost certainly lead to these lands being managed in a more restrictive manner.

Though this is a positive step for OHV access on public lands, our work is never done.  While the bill failed to pass, a majority of Representatives voted in favor of passage by a count of 282-144.  Since S. 22 was brought up as a “suspension bill” to thwart the possibility of amendments, it needed a 2/3 majority to pass.  The House may decide to bring this bill up again in the coming weeks and allow amendments to be introduced in order to only require a simple majority for passage.

ARRA will again ask for your help if this legislation comes up for another vote.  Remember, it is more important than ever for you to stay involved and urge your Representative to oppose this NLCS legislation, as this victory demonstrates that your voices are being heard.

It’s certainly not uncommon for the legislation to be re-worked and re-submitted — and it looks like that could certainly be the case with the S. 22 Omnibus bill.  So keep your eyes peeled for a new re-incarnation of the same bill.  The fact that 282 of the 426 members of the House still voted for it is pretty scary.  They only needed 2/3’rd of the house to pass the bill, which means they only needed two, yes that’s right, 2 more votes and it would have passed.

If the bill get re-worked and is re-submitted (which I’m dang sure it will be) it will only require 50% of the votes to pass — which based on the record as it stands now, I’m sure it would easily pass.

So although it failing is good news, this is only the first of many battles unless you and I can get our local representatives to vote against the great land grab of 2009.

So as you can see we’re not done yet.  Keep sending your letters, this bill needs to have an anchor tied around its neck and be thrown to the bottom of the ocean — Until that day, we’ve got work to do.

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