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A New Plan Has Sparked a Fiery Debate Over a Popular Off-Roading Destination in Utah

An area in southeast Utah is the new focal point of a recreational use and conservation debate. The areas include Labyrinth Rims and Gemini Bridges, world-class off-road destinations.

Drivers of OHVs (off-highway vehicles) use everything from ATVs to dirt bikes to explore the vast high desert of the Moab area. That’s near Arches National Park. However, a new decision from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) may close many of these dirt trails.

According to a press release, the new BLM plan “provides predictability and clarity for users, minimizes user conflicts and damage to natural and cultural resources, meets access needs, increases public safety, and addresses law enforcement issues within the area.”

Some reports suggest as much as 28% of the current off-road access could be removed. 

Groups advocating for off-road recreation say they plan to continue to fight for access. 

“Clearly, the Bureau of Land Management didn’t listen to the thousands of recreation users who sent route-specific and substantive comments to the agency to keep this area open,” said Ben Burr with the BlueRibbon Coalition in its own press release. The organization advocates for recreational use access while focusing on conservation.

“Most of the surrounding area is protected as National Parks, National Monuments, and Wilderness. The BLM was managing this area well for all uses, and the excessive amount of closures in this plan is a handout to radical environmental groups and completely unnecessary.” 

As the BRC highlights, the Bureau of Land Management did allow for user feedback and received thousands of comments. The current outline is the BLM’s plan, but they have one last appeals period. Once that ends, the BLM will review the feedback. 

Here is more information about the project.

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