SUWA Statement regarding Utah Senator Mike Lee’s S.3148 – 6.12.24

Jun 12th, 2024 Written by suwa

June 12, 2024

SUWA Statement regarding Utah Senator Mike Lee’s S.3148 – 6.12.24

Which Wrongly Seeks to Block BLM from Finalizing Off-Road Vehicle Travel Plans Across Utah  

Steve Bloch, Legal Director, Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance (SUWA); (801) 859-1552;
Grant Stevens, Communications Director, Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance (SUWA); (319) 427-0260;

Salt Lake City, UT – Today, the United States Senate Committee on Energy & Natural Resources, Subcommittee on Public Lands, Forests, and Mining heard testimony on Utah Senator Mike Lee’s S. 3148, “A bill to prohibit the use of funds by the Secretary of the Interior to finalize and implement certain travel management plans in the State of Utah.” Below is a statement from SUWA Legal Director Steve Bloch:  

“Senator Lee’s bill seeks to tie the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) hands on addressing out-of-control motorized vehicle use and damage to public lands and resources across much of Utah. In 2017, conservation groups, motorized recreation interests, and the Interior Department entered into a settlement agreement that required BLM to prepare 11 new motorized vehicle travel management plans in eastern and southern Utah. Mr. Lee’s bill would prevent BLM from completing this work. ”

Additional Background:

Beginning in 2011, the State of Utah and many of its counties filed more than 25 lawsuits in federal district court in Utah claiming title to more than 12,000 alleged rights of way across federal public lands in the state. Far from being essential aspects of Utah’s road infrastructure (as asserted by Senator Lee), the vast majority of these claimed rights of way are nothing more than faded two-tracks, cowpaths, and stream bottoms.

Utah’s lawsuits seek to leverage a provision in the long-repealed 1866 Mining Act known as “R.S. 2477” to obtain title to rights of way in places like National Monuments, National Parks, Wilderness and Wilderness Study Areas, and other fragile parts of Utah. 

To date, of the more than 12,000 claimed rights of way by Utah fewer than two dozen have been adjudicated by the courts. This is in part due to the sweeping scope of Utah’s litigation and also because of novel questions of law and the intensely factual issues that arise for every single claim. At this rate, it will take decades for Utah’s claims to be decided.

Knowing that resolution of Utah’s dozens of R.S. 2477 lawsuits is many years away, S.3148 would both indefinitely tie BLM’s hands and prevent the agency from spending funds on the 8 yet-to-be-completed travel management plans and prohibit BLM from implementing the 3 recently completed plans until each of the State’s R.S. 2477 lawsuits is adjudicated.

Motorized vehicle travel management planning is a necessary and essential task of the BLM to ensure balance in access and protection of Utah’s public lands. S.3148 does nothing to assist the BLM with this task. 


The Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance (SUWA) 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