BLM Land Use Plans


  • September 12th, 2022

    With Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument now restored to its original boundaries, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is beginning the process of developing a new management plan for this world-renowned landscape.

    This is a once-in-a generation opportunity to ensure that the monument is managed for its unique and extraordinary values, as the plans won’t be revised again for decades. That’s why it’s so important that people like you, who know and love Utah’s wild lands, take time to participate in the planning process.

    The BLM is currently accepting comments as part of the scoping process. This is your chance to tell the BLM what issues are important for them to consider as they develop a draft management plan.

    Click here to tell the BLM to prioritize wilderness and other conservation values in the new management plan for Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.

    Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. Photo copyright Jack Dykinga

    Grand Staircase-Escalante has rightfully claimed its place as one of the crown jewels of our nation’s public lands. It was the first monument managed by the BLM to specifically prioritize conservation of cultural, ecological, and scientific values, and it is now world-renowned for its remarkable paleontological discoveries, stunning scenery, and outstanding intact and diverse natural ecosystems.

    With this new management plan, the BLM has the opportunity to strengthen the protections at Grand Staircase-Escalante for generations to come. The BLM should:

    • Protect lands that qualify as wilderness by designating them as new wilderness study areas.
    • Prohibit mechanical treatments of sagebrush, pinyon pine, juniper, and other vegetation, and only use native species for restoration and post-fire seeding.
    • Return to using “management zones” for future recreation planning as it did in the original management plan for the monument, and focus any growth and expansion of recreation in frontcountry areas while protecting and minimizing development of less-used backcountry areas.
    • Close motorized routes that are harming monument objects, without adding new routes and while maintaining route closures and restrictions from the monument’s original management plan.
    • Ensure that Tribal Nations are proactively involved in the planning processes and resource management decisions while protecting cultural resources and traditional uses.
    • Protect visual resources, night skies, and natural and quiet soundscapes.

    (Click here for an expanded list of talking points)

    Personalized comments carry the greatest weight, so we encourage you to take a moment to tell the BLM what is important to you.

    Take action today to help protect Grand Staircase for generations to come.

    Comments are due September 27th. Thank you for everything you do to help protect the redrock!

  • December 13th, 2021

    In 2019, as part of the John D. Dingell Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act, Congress passed the Emery County Public Land Management Act, which designated, among other things, 17 new wilderness areas (totaling 663,000 acres), the San Rafael Swell Recreation Area, and three Wild and Scenic segments on the Green River. The measure represented a major step forward in the protection of Utah’s public lands, and it wouldn’t have happened without the support of redrock advocates like you.

    As a result of these new designations, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Price field office must update its management plan for each of the affected areas—and that’s where you come in. The agency has kicked off its planning process and is asking for public input.

    Please tell the BLM you want these new plans to prioritize the protection of natural, cultural, and scenic values.

    Muddy Creek Wilderness. Copyright Ray Bloxham/SUWA

    Some management directives are clear, such as the preservation of wilderness values, and the prohibition of motorized use, mining, and oil and gas development in designated wilderness areas. Others are less clear, such as the amount of commercial recreation use allowed in the wilderness areas, as well as what activities can be allowed in the San Rafael Swell Recreation Area, along Wild and Scenic river sections, and on unprotected wilderness-quality lands. While these areas are not designated as wilderness, they are essential parts of America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act and play a crucial role in meeting the Biden administration’s goal of protecting 30 percent of America’s lands and waters by 2030.

    You have the opportunity to help shape the BLM’s management of these iconic landscapes so their natural, cultural, scenic, wildlife and other values are protected from the impacts of motorized recreation and irresponsible development.

    Click here to submit your comments to the BLM today.

    This “scoping” period is the first of several steps in the planning process, and it is the time when the BLM is most open to new information and ideas for management of these areas over the next several decades. This is our chance to influence how this irreplaceable redrock country will be managed for generations to come.

    Please speak up by January 7, 2022, and make your voice heard!

    Thank you!

  • August 24th, 2020

    San Rafael River Proposed Wilderness Area. Photo (c) Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance; use with attribution permitted.

    For Immediate Release

    Contact: Laura Peterson, Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance 801-236-3762, laura@suwa.org

    Salt Lake City, UT (August 24, 2020) – On Friday, August 21, the Bureau of Land Management released the final motorized vehicle travel management plan for the San Rafael Desert in eastern Emery County, Utah. Left unchecked, this plan will forever change the area’s stunning and remote wild lands, turning it into a playground for off-road vehicles.

    The San Rafael Desert is a sublime area of Utah’s backcountry, encompassing the newly-designated Labyrinth Canyon Wilderness and wilderness-quality lands such as Sweetwater Reef and the San Rafael River. It features stunning redrock canyons, important cultural sites, and an outstanding diversity of native species, many found nowhere else but this corner of Utah. The Bureau’s plan inundates this remote area with off-road vehicle routes, more than doubling the miles open to motorized vehicles from 300 miles to more than 765 miles.

    “At this point in the Trump Administration, the Bureau of Land Management has abandoned even the pretense of seeking balance in public land management,” said Laura Peterson, staff attorney at Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance. “Instead of accommodating the diverse array of public land resources and user groups and developing a reasonable travel plan that ensures access to public lands while preserving the backcountry, the Bureau’s travel plan does the opposite. It designates virtually any cow path, wash bottom and line on a map as open to off-road vehicles.”

    Federal law requires the Bureau of Land Management to minimize impacts to natural and cultural resources when designating motorized vehicle routes. The agency must demonstrate that it has done so for both every route designated, and the travel plan as a whole. This includes minimizing damage to soils, watershed, vegetation, wildlife habitat, and cultural sites; minimizing the harassment of wildlife as well as conflicts between different public land user groups; and minimizing impacts of motorized vehicle routes on wilderness values like naturalness and solitude. The Bureau’s San Rafael Desert travel plan falls woefully short of meeting its legal obligation.

    “By doubling the miles of off-road vehicle trails, this short-sighted plan designates an unmanageable spiderweb of routes that will forever change the San Rafael Desert, one of Utah’s quietest places. This is public land management at its worst,” said Steve Bloch, Legal Director at Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance.

    The San Rafael Desert travel plan is the first of thirteen travel plans that the Bureau of Land Management will complete over the next six years as a part of a court-supervised settlement agreement. These thirteen travel plans will determine where motorized vehicles will be allowed across millions of acres of federal public lands in some of Utah’s wildest public lands, including the Dirty Devil, San Rafael Swell and Vermillion Cliffs.

    Additional Resources:

    Photos of areas affected by the plan.

    The BLM’s press release.

    The BLM’s e-planning page on the project.

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  • December 19th, 2019

    Last Friday, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) released a draft travel management plan for the San Rafael Desert in Emery County, Utah that would more than double the number of miles open to motorized use—forever changing the area’s stunning and remote wild lands, and turning them into a playground for off-road vehicles.

    The San Rafael Desert is a sublime area of Utah’s backcountry, encompassing the newly-designated Labyrinth Canyon Wilderness and wilderness-quality lands such as Sweetwater Reef and the San Rafael River.

    Federal law requires the BLM to minimize impacts to natural and cultural resources when designating motorized vehicle routes. Instead, the agency’s draft travel management plan for the San Rafael Desert would inundate this remote area with off-road vehicle routes, increasing the miles open to motorized vehicles from 300 miles to more than 775.

    Click here to tell the BLM its draft plan for the San Rafael Desert is unacceptable and fails to minimize damage to natural and cultural resources.

    Labyrinth Canyon. © Ray Bloxham/SUWA

    Among other things, the BLM’s preferred alternative would:

    • Designate as open to motorized vehicles more than 300 miles of routes that are reclaimed, reclaiming, or do not exist on the ground.  Designating these routes is unnecessary and will damage desert soils, vegetation, riparian areas, cultural resources and wildlife habitat.
    • Designate as open to motorized vehicles popular non-motorized areas such as Moonshine Wash (from the trailhead to the slot canyon), June’s Bottom, and along the San Rafael River.

    The San Rafael Desert travel management plan is the first of thirteen travel plans the BLM will complete over the next six years as a part of a court-supervised settlement agreement with conservation and off-road vehicle groups. The plans will determine where motorized vehicles are allowed on some of Utah’s wildest public lands.

    Tell the BLM to fulfill its legal obligation and keep motorized trails out of wildlife habitat, cultural sites, and other sensitive or inappropriate areas in the San Rafael Desert.

    The BLM is giving the public only 30 days during the busy holiday season to review its proposed travel management plan and submit written comments.

    Click here to submit your comments by January 13th.

    Also be sure to check out our story map for more information, including maps and photographs of currently-designated and proposed motorized vehicle routes.