A Once-in-a-Generation Opportunity

Off-road vehicle (ORV) use on public lands in Utah has risen exponentially in recent years, to the detriment of wilderness, wildlife, and other recreationists.

Now, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is in the process of determining where off-road vehicles are allowed in some of Utah’s most stunning and remote wild lands.

Travel plans are an opportunity to develop reasonable, balanced, and forward-thinking blueprints that ensure public access while preserving the backcountry and minimizing damage. The travel planning process gives the BLM a chance to get things right by providing access to trailheads, scenic overlooks, and recreation opportunities while protecting the reason people want to drive to such remote areas in the first place: to enjoy the unspoiled beauty of Utah’s unparalleled public lands and wilderness areas.

Sign up for updates below to stay informed about what you can do to help balance off-road vehicle use with the critical need to protect southern Utah’s redrock wilderness.

 


Status of Current Plans by Management Area

Plans with open comment periods:
No comment periods are currently open. Please sign up for updates above to be notified about opportunities to make your voice heard!

All plans in process or scheduled for release (alphabetical)

Book Cliffs
Scoping Phase: Complete
Next Up: Draft Plan
Expected Final Plan: Summer 2023
Dinosaur North
Scoping Phase: Complete
Next Up: Draft Plan
Expected Final Plan: May 2023
Dolores Triangle
Scoping Phase: TBD
Next Up: Draft Plan
Expected Final Plan: June 2025
Henry Mountains
Scoping Phase: TBD
Next Up: Draft Plan
Expected Final Plan: Early 2024
Labyrinth Rims/Gemini Bridges
Scoping Phase: Complete
Next Up: Draft Plan
Expected Final Plan: June 2023
Nine Mile
Scoping Phase: TBD
Next Up: Draft Plan
Expected Final Plan: June 2024
Paunsaugunt
Scoping Phase: Complete
Next Up: Draft Plan
Expected Final Plan: June 2023
San Rafael Swell
Scoping Phase: Complete
Next Up: Draft Plan
Expected Final Plan: Spring 2024
Trail Canyon
Scoping Phase: Complete
Next Up: Draft Plan
Expected Final Plan: Summer 2023

How We Got Here

For decades, the BLM did little to regulate the use of ORVs on public lands. In spite of wilderness areas being closed to motorized recreation, the BLM allowed ORVs to run rampant within proposed wilderness areas. In 2008, BLM offices in Moab, Monticello, Richfield, Price, Vernal, and Kanab finally took a step in the right direction and issued travel plans that limited ORV use to designated routes. Unfortunately, these route designations failed to comply with federal laws enacted to protect archaeological resources. They also failed to comply with regulations that require ORV routes to be located to minimize impacts to natural and cultural resources and to minimize conflicts with other users.

As part of our litigation over six resource management plans issued under the George W. Bush administration (click here for background on this), SUWA challenged the six ORV travel plans. The federal district court agreed with SUWA that the BLM failed to comply with federal laws to protect public lands and resources from damage caused by ORVs.

Under a January 2017 settlement agreement, the BLM is required to complete 11 new ORV travel management plans by 2025, covering more than 6 million acres of BLM-managed lands in eastern and southern Utah. Prior to designating routes as open to ORVs, the BLM must expressly consider impacts to “lands with wilderness character,” sensitive natural resources, and cultural resources. The agency must also minimize impacts to those resources. The travel planning process is ongoing, and SUWA continues to work with the BLM to ensure the agency complies with its regulatory mandates.

Our Ongoing Work to Protect the Redrock

SUWA is committed to ensuring that the wild country proposed for wilderness designation under America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act—and the streams, wildlife, soils, native plants, cultural sites, and solitude found there—are protected from ORV-related impacts. As part of this work we are:

  • Participating in the BLM’s ongoing ORV travel planning. Through that process, SUWA is providing significant information about the condition of routes on the ground and potential impacts to natural and cultural resources.
  • Providing the BLM and the public with information regarding the environmental and cultural resource impacts of ORV use and urging the agency to develop trail designations that make sense and also  minimize impacts to natural and cultural resources.
  • Assisting in the clean-up and restoration of ORV-damaged areas through stewardship projects with our members and partners in the conservation community.

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