New ATV Route Threatens Indian Creek

Location of Indian Creek proposed ATV right-of-way. Copyright Liz Thomas/SUWA

The Monticello Bureau of Land Management (BLM) office is moving towards giving a right-of-way to San Juan County to build a new, and redundant, all-terrain vehicle (ATV) trail on your public lands in the Canyonlands Basin.

The proposed right-of-way cuts through famously scenic lands east of the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park, along Indian Creek. The proposed ATV route and right-of-way would be located on lands that are included in America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act. The new ATV route would unquestionably impact the naturalness of the area as well as the quiet, wilderness experience that can be enjoyed there today. In addition, the new ATV route would be a significant conflict with other non-motorized recreational uses of the area, including its famous rock-climbing opportunities.

There are hundreds of miles of existing off-road vehicle routes that currently provide vehicle access and recreational opportunities in the Indian Creek area, and there is no compelling need for the construction of a yet another ATV route. Rights-of-way (typically granted for 30 years or in perpetuity) are supposed to be part of a “necessary” transportation system that is in the “public interest” pursuant to federal law governing rights-of-way on public lands. This proposed ATV right-of-way is neither. Please urge BLM to deny the county’s request for a right-of-way to build a new ATV trail on your public lands, by adopting the “no action” alternative.

The Indian Creek corridor is a world-class recreation destination and should be managed as such. There is absolutely no reason the BLM should relinquish its  control over these spectacular public lands by granting a right-of-way to the county to construct a new, and superfluous ATV route, especially when there are hundreds of miles of existing routes in the Canyonlands Basin already. However, the BLM is being badgered by San Juan County and appears ready to cave to anti-wilderness, pro-motorized-access county commissioners.

We are opposing this right-of-way and are working with other conservation groups to protect the impressive public lands around Indian Creek and in the greater Canyonlands Basin from the unnecessary and damaging proliferation of ATV routes.