ATVs Coming to Your Favorite Wilderness Area

The misleadingly-named “Sportsmen’s Heritage Act” has wilderness-busting provisions that could be coming to any and all of America’s wilderness areas.

“It’s possibly the biggest threat to this nation’s wilderness areas since the Wilderness Act was passed in 1964,” says Tom Martin, Co-Director of River Runners for Wilderness, “even long time wilderness defenders who thought they’d seen it all are shocked.”

HR4089 is a combination of 4 previous bills. Although there are many debatable elements, the worst allows what were previously illegal activities to now occur in all areas managed as wilderness under the National Park Service, the Forest Service, and all of the nation’s Federal land agencies.

Among activities that could be allowed are ATV use, new road construction, mining, logging and the construction of fixed structures. In fact, the most dangerous element of this bill is that it gives managers a blank check to allow any activities they construe as beneficial to sportsmen.

The bill has passed the House of Representatives and a Senate Companion Bill S2066 has been introduced with supporters such as the National Rifle Association and sports industry groups urging a quick passage.

The Congressional Research Service (CRS), a branch of the Library of Congress that provides in depth analysis to members of Congress and others, outlined the threats in a recent review of the proposal. The CRS noted that the bill’s “..language could be construed as opening wilderness areas to virtually any activity related to hunting and fishing, even if otherwise inconsistent with wilderness values. Despite the Wilderness Act’s explicit ban on temporary and permanent roads, if H.R. 4089 were passed, roads arguably could be constructed in wilderness areas…”

The report also noted that “…while it appears that timber harvest could be allowed, it would seem difficult to harvest timber without roads or machines.”

The entire CRS’ brief (4 page) memo is on the River Runners for Wilderness  website at

Wilderness destroying language in this bill could easily be omitted before final passage and we urge you to take action to insist that this is done:

Contact your state’s Senators and ask that they not support S2066 and to protect all provisions of The Wilderness Act.

You are also encouraged to contact lobbying supporters of HR4089 & S2066, such as the National Rifle Association at their website, particularly if you are a member: and let them know that you support the Wilderness Act as written.

You are also encouraged to write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper. National media has largely ignored these bills and you could be instrumental in raising awareness of the threat.

Another easy action is to sign Wilderness Watch’s on-line petition at Please note that RRFW does not endorse any other petitions that may be presented to the site’s visitors.

To learn more about the threats posed by this legislation, visit:

Wilderness Watch’s analysis:

Other advocacy group sites: and

Surveys show that wilderness enjoys very broad support by our country’s citizens and should be protected. River Runners for Wilderness will keep you apprised of this looming disaster for our country’s precious wilderness lands.


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