Off Road Vehicles Archives - Page 9 of 9

  • August 30th, 2010

    Last week, I left my home in Moab and traveled to Salt Lake City just in time to hit a “Red Alert” day — meaning the air quality was so poor that breathing could damage your lungs (yes, my driving contributed to the problem).

    Somehow that made it all the more disappointing when two days later Governor Herbert spoke at the “Take Utah Backwards” (a.k.a. “Take Back Utah”) off-road vehicle rally at the state capitol. A crowd of pollution-belching ATVs and non-street-legal vehicles first joyrode up State Street, and then the governor shared the stage with elected officials and other sundry notables (like a representative of the Farm Bureau) competing for best at bashing environmentalists.

    Why would our Governor promote more off-road vehicle use on our public lands? In the southeastern portion of our state, on
    just BLM land alone, there are 20,000 miles of dirt routes for motorized use. He wants more?

    Herbert shared the stage with Representative Mike Noel, whom the governor previously appointed to his so-called “Balanced Resource Council” — the committee intended to foster civility in public land discussions. When Noel recently learned that SUWA had resolved conflicts with an energy company over natural gas and wilderness at the north end of Desolation
    Canyon, he declared that SUWA was an “enemy of the state and the people and the children of Utah” (I hope my wife
    and kids don’t feel that way). You might have expected the governor to boot Noel from the BRC for that one. Instead, the governor’s staff sent a written defense of Noel to the Salt Lake Tribune, and on Saturday, the governor gave a shout-out
    to his “good friend, Representative Mike Noel.”

    If there is a silver lining to all this, it’s that only a few hundred attended Herbert’s speech, not the 10,000 predicted by promoters. These folks are losing momentum fast.

    Take back utah attendees
    Does this look like 5,000 attendees to you?  That is what the Take Back Utah organizers have “estimated.”
    Photo by Scott Braden.

    Off-road vehicle use is probably the greatest threat to Utah’s spectacular wilderness. We need political leadership, not pandering, if we’re going to resolve the Utah wilderness debate and protect the Redrock.

    Scott Groene
    Executive Director
    Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance

  • August 9th, 2010

    Recapture Creek is in a spectacular canyon with an astounding prehistory, as evidenced by the number and quality of its cultural resources.  In 2006, unknown individuals illegally constructed an off-road vehicle (ORV) route through Recapture. The illegal route was built directly through archaeological sites and crosses the creek several times.  The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) eventually issued a temporary closure for the illegal route in 2007, and has started a criminal investigation that is still ongoing.

    Subsequent to BLM’s closure, San Juan County requested a right-of-way (ROW) for the illegal ORV route. Even though the BLM is still conducting its criminal investigation, the agency began processing the County’s ROW application. Due to the area’s archeological significance, and in order to comply with the National Historic Preservation Act, BLM has begun a consultation process with interested parties. SUWA is an interested party because we petitioned the BLM to close the route, and we are participating in the consultation process, along with the State Historic Preservation Office, professional
    archaeologists, other environmental and cultural resource protection organizations, the Ute Tribe, a local ORV advocacy group, the cities of Blanding and Monticello, and San Juan County. In addition, the Hopi Tribe has submitted letters to the BLM requesting the permanent closure of the unauthorized route in Recapture Canyon to motorized vehicles due to the cultural resources issues.

    There is sound basis for closing the route to motorized vehicle use to protect the cultural resources, as current research indicates that there is a direct correlation between the vandalizing and looting of cultural resources and access by ORVs. Sites visible from ORV routes are much more likely to be vandalized.

    Besides the NHPA process which the field trip in this video was part of, BLM has indicated that it will conduct an environmental review and publish an Environmental Assessment for public review and comment before determining whether the agency will grant a ROW for the illegal route to San Juan County.

    Video by Brooke Williams, SUWA Field Advocate