This was a vote on an amendment by Rep. Wally Herger (R-CA) prohibiting federal funds from being used to enforce a regulation which determined where off-road vehicles could be used in national forests. This amendment was offered to a continuing resolution funding the federal government through September 2011, and cutting $61 billion in federal funding for many government programs.
Herger urged support for his amendment: “Locally elected officials are now at the point of considering litigation against the Forest Service [which oversees the management of national forests] to keep these federal lands open to recreation. It is disgraceful that local counties would have to spend valuable public funding to preserve access to our own national forests. Not only are our counties forced to defend themselves against well funded environmental activists trying to turn every acre of federal land into some kind of sanctuary, but now also against the very agency that is supposed to serve the public.”
Rep. Jim Moran (D-VA) opposed the amendment: “…Over the past few decades, we know that the availability and capability of off-road vehicles has increased tremendously. That means more Americans are enjoying access to, and recreational opportunities in, their national forests, but the resulting proliferation of random routes results in severe impacts, particularly on the quality of our water supply and the physical safety of national forest visitors. The national forests are spectacular lands….Often times, we take them for granted and fail to realize that the national forests are the headwaters for much of our nation's surface waters. The clean, pure water produced on a national forest is a national treasure and the economic resource that supports industry and agriculture nationwide….The proliferation, though, of random trails created by off road vehicles, increases erosion and pollution into water sources with no possibility for mitigation by culverts or other measures that would be available to land managers on designated routes.”
The House agreed to this amendment by a vote of 227-197. Voting “yea” were 219 Republicans and 8 Democrats. 179 Democrats and 18 Republicans voted “nay.” As a result, the House agreed to an amendment prohibiting funds provided by a continuing resolution from being used to enforce a regulation that determined where off-road vehicles may be used in national forests.