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Off-Road Groups Try to Block BLM Plan to Close Routes Near Moab

A group of off-road advocates asked a federal judge last week to block the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) from implementing a plan to close more than 300 miles of motorized routes near Moab, Utah

In a press release, attorneys for the groups said that they asked the judge for an emergency injunction because the government’s plan would destroy the routes before the court could issue a ruling. 

“The government has already announced that they would begin re-vegetating, bulldozing, and otherwise erasing these trails the moment they were closed,” said Matt Miller, a senior attorney at the Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF), a conservative think tank, and lead attorney on the case.

The BlueRibbon Coalition and the Colorado Offroad Trail Defenders filed the lawsuit about a month after the Department of Interior denied their appeal to the BLM’s Labyrinth Canyon and Gemini Bridges Travel Management Plan (TMP), which was supposed to go into effect on Sept. 28. 

Nate Curtisi, another TPPF attorney and co-council on the case, called the TMP “government overreach” and a “violation of a myriad of constitutional and statutory protections.” 

The complaint alleges that the BLM selected the most restrictive plan rather than picking one of the three alternatives proposed in its environmental assessment. 

The BLM’s plan was the result of a multi-year effort to identify new options for managing some 817 miles of travel routes in the roughly 300,000 acres of public land. When the BLM announced the final plan, it said it that “sought to minimize impacts to resources and user conflicts by focusing travel on routes where BLM’s data suggests that use is less impactful.”

Supporters of BLM’s plan say they are “disappointed but not surprised” by the lawsuit. Laura Peterson, a staff attorney with the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, called BLM’s plan “a thoughtful approach to managing recreation in this popular area.” 

“Unfortunately, there are some who will not be satisfied unless every inch of Utah’s public lands are blanketed with off-road vehicle routes, regardless of the damage these vehicles cause,” Peterson said. 

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