Help Protect the San Rafael Swell from Overwhelming Off-Road Vehicle Use

Mar 14th, 2024 Written by suwa

If you’ve visited Utah’s San Rafael Swell recently you may have left with a sense that something is awry. Visitation has dramatically increased in recent years—particularly with regard to motorized vehicles like UTVs (otherwise known as side-by-sides) and dirt bikes. It’s increasingly hard to escape the sight and sound of these vehicles as they push farther and deeper into the formerly quiet places that make the Swell a favorite destination for so many.

Take action to help protect the San Rafael Swell from overwhelming off-road vehicle use!

As part of its work to prepare new travel management plans for much of eastern and southern Utah, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) recently released a set of “preliminary alternatives” for possible motorized trail designations in the San Rafael Swell. These alternatives represent the BLM’s first attempt at determining where motorized vehicles will be allowed across a landscape that spans from the heart of the Swell north to the Price River, to the canyon and reef systems along the Swell’s western flank, and all the way south to near Capitol Reef National Park—over 1 million acres in total!

San Rafael Swell. © Ray Bloxham/SUWA

The BLM is obligated by law to minimize the impacts of motorized vehicles, which damage soils, vegetation, wildlife, cultural resources, and wilderness characteristics. The agency must also minimize user conflicts between motorized and non-motorized visitors.

We believe Alternative B is the only alternative that complies with these legal duties. It’s the only alternative that does justice to this fragile and uniquely Utah landscape by eliminating redundant routes and those that simply don’t lead anywhere, as well as routes causing damage to fragile riparian areas, wildlife habitat, and cultural resources.

Please take a moment today to ask the BLM to adopt Alternative B for the San Rafael Swell travel management plan.

This isn’t the last time you’ll hear from us about travel planning; the BLM will release its draft environmental assessment for the Swell, as well as updates to other travel plans, later this year. And we’ll need you to again speak up for conservation each and every time. Thank you for supporting this work.