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PaOHV’s Lepley Testifies before House Sub Committee

PaOHV’s Executive Director Dick Lepley testified on June 22 as part of a panel before the US House Representatives Committee on Natural Resources, Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands.  The Committee hearing was entitled “Opportunities for Outdoor Recreation on Public Lands.” Lepley testified with others from Americans for Responsible Recreational Access.  Other panelists included representatives from NOHVCC and the state OHV associations in Colorado and Minnesota.

In his testimony, Lepley addressed OHV access to the Allegheny National Forest “Here in the East, we have far less access to public lands than folks in the West, but the struggle for trail miles is the same nationwide.  For example, the one-hundred-eight mile motorized trail system in the Allegheny National Forest in western Pennsylvania has for decades been recognized as a model for doing it right.  It has attracted thousands of riders, and generated millions of dollars for the regional economy.  But instead of recognizing the growth potential, the ANF is putting its efforts into non-motorized recreation.” 

Lepley voiced the sentiment of Pennsylvania riders when he added “I find this alarming for a number of reasons.  For one, the ANF embraces over a half-million acres, but our one-hundred-eight miles of motorized trails occupy well under a tenth of a percent of the total forest.”  His point was echoed by others on the panel from similar experiences elsewhere.

Lepley also addressed the contribution OHV dealers make to local economies.  “My dealership employs fifty people, and during normal economic times, we generate $2 million in payroll dollars and pay $2 million in state and federal taxes yearly.  There are 13,230 dealerships similar to mine nationwide, employing over 107,544 Americans with a payroll of over $3.6 billion dollars.  Clearly, the power sports industry contributes mightily to the nation’s economy.”   Lepley concluded his remarks encouraging Congress “to consider the full impact that land use decisions have on Americans, including the revitalizing effect that building or expanding a trail system can have on local economies, and the negative impact that unnecessarily closing existing trails or preventing the addition of new systems can have as well.”

The full hearing can be viewed at http://naturalresources.house.gov/Calendar/EventSingle.aspx?EventID=246553