BLM Needs Balanced Approach to 10-Year Jeep Safari Permit

Segment of a new proposed Jeep Safari route near Deadman Point. Copyright Neal Clark.

The Moab BLM office appears ready to sacrifice wilderness-quality lands for off-road vehicle (ORV) use instead of taking a balanced approach that protects remaining wild lands.  At issue is a 10-year permit to allow the Jeep Safari, other permitted motor vehicle events, and commercial ORV outfitters to use nearly 900 miles of routes, including 100 miles of routes in areas proposed for wilderness under America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act.

The 900 miles of routes include 150 miles of new routes the BLM is considering adding to the permit, thereby expanding heavy ORV use into new areas.  Yet the agency’s own visitor survey indicates that only 10% of the visitors to BLM lands in the Moab area are ORV recreationists, while the vast majority of visitors are interested in non-motorized types of recreational opportunities such as hiking, biking, river rafting, climbing, and visiting historic sites and natural features.  Adding new Jeep Safari routes will displace these other visitors.

The BLM’s Environmental Assessment acknowledges that the official Jeep Safari routes get publicized and promoted via the web and in commercially available books, maps and videos, and thus get the vast majority of use among Moab area trails.  In other words, once a Jeep Safari route is established, it tends to become popular among the majority of private ORV recreationists who visit the Moab area throughout the year, not just during the annual Jeep Safari.

Please urge the BLM to take a balanced approach by approving only the 800 miles of Jeep Safari routes that are NOT within proposed wilderness, rather than tilting the scales heavily in favor of one special interest group.  A balanced approach will help preserve the full range of recreational opportunities and the scenic and wild land qualities of the area that attract nearly 1 million visitors annually.

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