Conservation Groups Secure Settlement to Protect Glen Canyon, Shaping Motorized Vehicle Use Management – 4.11.24

Apr 11th, 2024 Written by suwa

April 11, 2024

Conservation Groups Secure Settlement to Protect Glen Canyon, Shaping Motorized Vehicle Use Management – 4.11.24 

Stephen Bloch, Legal Director, Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance (SUWA); (801) 428-3981;
Grant Stevens, Communications Director, Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance (SUWA); (319) 427-0260;
Caitlyn Burford, Communication Manager, National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA), 541-371-6452 

Washington, DC – Yesterday, the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) and the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance (SUWA) successfully settled and dismissed their lawsuits against the National Park Service (NPS) over off-road vehicle management at Glen Canyon National Recreation Area (NRA). In light of the settlement, the two cases in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia were dismissed, marking a significant victory for the protection of national park land from harmful impacts of off-highway vehicles (OHVs) and street-legal all-terrain vehicles (ATVs). The settlement does not affect recreation on Lake Powell.

Spanning southern Utah and northern Arizona, Glen Canyon NRA is cherished for its dramatic redrock landscapes, deep canyons and mesas, and the quiet solitude it offers as one of the nation’s most remote recreation areas. In 2021, an NPS rule expanded motorized vehicle use, ignoring the significant impacts widespread use would have on the NRA’s vegetation, wildlife, and stunningly quiet landscape. Of particular concern was the Park Service’s new authorization of OHV and street-legal ATV use in the remote and ecologically sensitive Orange Cliffs area that borders Canyonlands National Park. 

After years of litigation, NPCA, SUWA, and NPS successfully reached an agreement that commits the Park Service to propose a revised rule that better protects the ecological integrity and visitor experience of Glen Canyon NRA, limiting OHVs and street-legal ATVs in the park’s most delicate areas.   

“Known for its iconic sandstone cliffs, exquisite dark skies and preserved natural soundscapes, the Orange Cliffs area is a sanctuary within Glen Canyon,” said Ernie Atencio, the Southwest Regional Director for the National Parks Conservation Association. “NPCA applauds this commitment from the National Park Service to propose protecting the rare tranquility of the area’s backcountry solitude and the extraordinary landscape found here. We are committed to moving forward to support NRA staff as they take on complex management issues in the face of climate change and dramatically changing lake levels.” 

Glen Canyon NRA is also known for its nearly 1,000 miles of meandering shoreline with steep sandstone cliffs and narrow inlets. Recognizing the growing challenges posed by climate change, the settlement empowers the Park Service to take proactive measures to protect Glen Canyon’s shoreline areas. With fluctuating water levels posing increasing management challenges, the Park Service will have the authority to restrict OHV and street-legal ATV access to shoreline areas as needed, protecting vulnerable natural resources. 

“We’re pleased to reach this settlement with the National Park Service and start the process to bring a more balanced approach to where motorized vehicles can operate in the NRA,” said Hanna Larsen, Staff Attorney at the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance (SUWA). “In particular, as lake levels at Lake Powell continue to fluctuate – and concerning activities such as the spread of invasive species and illegal cross country motorized vehicle use increase – NPS must clearly manage where motorized vehicles can and cannot drive on an ever-changing and exposed shoreline. The settlement commits the Park Service to do that work.” 

The settlement agreement includes additional provisions to balance motorized vehicle use with other values, such as restricting use on certain park roads and expanding the quiet hours in an area where OHV use is permitted. This agreement also reflects a commitment to responsible stewardship of natural landscapes and the park visitor experience at Glen Canyon NRA and underscores the important role of the Park Service in protecting America’s national parks. 

The greater Glen Canyon landscape is sacred to a number of Tribal Nations and encompasses several world-renowned protected areas, including Grand Staircase-Escalante and Bears Ears National Monuments, and Capitol Reef and Canyonlands National Parks.The National Park Service will hold a sixty-day public comment period on the proposed rule in 2024. 


 About the National Parks Conservation Association: Since 1919, the nonpartisan National Parks Conservation Association has been the leading voice in safeguarding our national parks. NPCA and its more than 1.6 million members and supporters work together to protect and preserve our nation’s most iconic and inspirational places for future generations. For more information, visit

About the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance: The Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance is a nonprofit organization with members and supporters from around the country dedicated to protecting America’s redrock wilderness. From offices in Moab, Salt Lake City, and Washington, DC, our team of professionals defends the redrock, organizes support for America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act, and stewards this world-renowned landscape. Learn more at