The Bureau of Land Management’s Price field office is accepting comments on a preliminary proposal to develop a recreation area management plan and “cooperative management agreement” with Utah State Parks and Emery County for a portion of the San Rafael Swell Special Recreation Management Area (SRMA) near Goblin Valley State Park.
The nearly 195,000-acre “cooperative management” planning area is a world-class scenic and natural area that includes the 27,000-acre Crack Canyon Wilderness Study Area as well as over 60,000 acres of land managed by the BLM for protection of wilderness characteristics. Long recognized for their conservation value, these lands have been at one time or another proposed for national monument or national conservation area designation.
Muddy Creek Natural Area within the San Rafael Swell SRMA, © Ray Bloxham/SUWA.
The area has also been eyed by the State of Utah for transfer from federal to state control in order to increase motorized recreation and revenue. Not surprisingly, the boundary of the planning area generally mirrors the boundary of an area proposed for transfer to the state in Rep. Rob Bishop’s doomed Public Lands Initiative (PLI). All told, the proposal is little more than another effort by the State of Utah to wrest control of federal public lands for its own development wishes.
The State of Utah and Emery County have long stood for increased motorized recreation on BLM lands near Goblin Valley State Park and, in the case of the State of Utah, have turned state parks into privatized, profit-driven, heavily-developed, user-fee-ridden motorized and mechanized playgrounds. The BLM must drop its plans for cooperative management and meet its obligation to develop a recreation management plan for the entire San Rafael Swell SRMA without undue influence from anti-conservation, pro-motorized development interests at the state and county level.