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News from Motorcycle Industry Council (MIC):
IRVINE, Calif. Jan. 17, 2011 – In a move sure to have far-reaching effects on the way federal lands are used in the future, the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a long-standing rule that prevented non-federal interests, such as rider groups, from intervening in environmental disputes in the Western States. In support of the recreation group parties in the case, the Motorcycle Industry Council (MIC) and the Specialty Vehicle Institute of America (SVIA) led the briefing and argument on the issue that resulted in the Court’s reversal of precedent.

In the underlying case, Idaho rider groups sought to intervene in a lawsuit brought by the Wilderness Society and others against the U.S. Forest Service over its travel management plan in the Sawtooth National Forest. The District Court, however, denied intervention under the “federal defendant” rule. The rider groups then asked MIC and SVIA to help fund their appeal through the associations’ OHV Organization Support Program. After review of the merits of the case and the broader implications of a successful appeal, the MIC and SVIA Boards not only agreed to help fund the rider groups’ appeal, but also directed staff to seek to have MIC and SVIA joined to the appeal as amici curiae (friends of the court) to lead the effort to overturn the “federal defendant” rule.

The so-called “federal defendant” rule categorically prohibited anyone other than the federal government from intervening in claims under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the main legal mechanism for disputing government actions that affect the environment. NEPA is the law at issue in many recreation-related lawsuits as well as other land access disputes involving such diverse parties as Indian tribes, state and local governments, mining and timber interests, and environmental groups. The rule, in effect, made it impossible for interested parties to engage in litigation to defend the underlying agency action or to represent their interests in the ultimate outcome of the case.

In striking down the “federal defendant” rule, Circuit Judge Barry G. Silverman wrote for the eleven judge en banc appeals court that, “Because the rule is at odds with the text of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 24(a)(2) and the standards we apply in all other intervention of right cases, we abandon it here.”

Tim Buche, president and chief executive officer of the MIC, largely credits the generous support of its membership, which made the decision for the associations, on behalf of the riders, to become directly involved in the case and ensured access to the highest-level staff resources, in-house counsel and outside legal representation possible in this type of case.

Buche explained that MIC and SVIA member funds are designated for land access and managed by a joint committee comprised of MIC and SVIA members. Historically, the associations have judiciously provided grants to outside organizations that request funding to pursue land usage initiatives such as grassroots campaigns or trail maintenance efforts. In the past two years, however, the associations have deemed it prudent to very selectively invest and directly manage efforts in the most critical, high-stakes land use legal issues impacting the whole industry and rider community.

Because of its critical, far-reaching nature, the associations elected to get directly involved in the “federal defendant” issue under the direction of Paul Vitrano, MIC and SVIA executive vice president and general counsel. Paul Gale of Troutman Sanders LLP and Erik Pritchard of Pritchard Law Firm were retained as outside counsel.

“In this case,” Vitrano explained, “we were confident our expertise and long history with the OHV community would give riders the best chance for success. We brought more to the table, the ‘horsepower’ if you will, than anyone else could have.

“Our members and association staff are riders themselves. Although funded by industry, MIC and SVIA ultimately are always guided by what is best for the riders.” Vitrano added, “This result will forever enhance the ability of riders to protect their access to public lands.”

The Motorcycle Industry Council exists to preserve, protect and promote motorcycling through government relations, communications and media relations, statistics and research, aftermarket programs, development of data communications standards, and activities surrounding technical and regulatory issues. As a not-for-profit, national industry association, MIC seeks to support motorcyclists by representing manufacturers and distributors of motorcycles, scooters, motorcycle/ATV/ROV parts and accessories, and members of allied trades such as insurance, finance and investment companies, media companies and consultants.

The MIC is headquartered in Irvine, Calif., with a government relations office adjacent to Washington, D.C. First called the MIC in 1970, the organization has been in operation since 1914. Visit the MIC at


New Omnibus Public Lands Bill in the Senate

by JeffDecember 19, 2010 News

From the AMA: The American Motorcyclist Association urges everyone to contact their Senators to vote “No” on a new Omnibus Public Lands Bill that has developed in the Senate.  Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid (NV) is determined to have the lame-duck land grab voted on before the close of this Congress. After working with Senate [...]

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Report on Johnson Valley OHV race permit

by JeffNovember 29, 2010 News

From the AMA, citing U.S. Bureau of Land Management press release – An internal review by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) released on Nov. 19 found its policies and procedures for permitting off-highway vehicle (OHV) events are sound, but the agency did not adhere to these procedures in permitting Mojave Desert Racing (MDR) [...]

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Future of OHV motorcycling threatened by Obama Administration

by JeffNovember 17, 2010 Editorials

Ed. Note: The American Motorcyclist Association is alerting all motorcyclists about an initiative to further restrict motorcyclists’ rights. Why is this AMA Action Alert being republished in Motorcycle Safety News? Because, by only a small stretch of editorial license, we want to keep motorcycling itself “safe,” and this is a concern for everyone who cares [...]

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Vote like a motorcyclist

by JeffOctober 14, 2010 Editorials

With laws being enacted that discriminate against riders’ rights, and with elections right around the corner, being mindful of issues that affect your future, and voting accordingly are more than just a good idea. This is the message the AMA is stressing, as seen in the press release following: The AMA has ramped up its [...]

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