The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is developing a travel management plan for the remote Book Cliffs area in Uintah and northern Grand Counties—a plan that will determine where off-road vehicle (ORV) use is allowed in this stunning area for decades to come.
The Book Cliffs travel management area encompasses more than 602,000 acres of BLM-managed public lands in east-central Utah, including the Winter Ridge Wilderness Study Area and wilderness-quality lands around the White River, Bitter Creek, and Hideout Canyon. The region offers fantastic opportunities for camping, hiking, photography, wildlife watching, and backcountry hunting. Large herds of Rocky Mountain elk and mule deer thrive in this wild landscape that is also home to pronghorn antelope, bighorn sheep, mountain lion, and black bear. Reflecting thousands of years of human history, the Book Cliffs region also contains irreplaceable cultural and historic resources.
Federal law requires the BLM to minimize impacts to natural and cultural resources when designating motorized vehicle routes. The agency’s current Book Cliffs travel plan—one of several pushed through at the end of the George W. Bush administration—blanketed the area with ORV routes, prioritizing motorized vehicle use at the expense of preserving important wildlife habitat and cultural sites.
SUWA and our partners challenged these Bush-era plans in court as unlawful and won. That decision and a subsequent settlement agreement sent the BLM back to the drawing board to prepare 13 new travel plans, including in the Book Cliffs. Despite this, the BLM is now considering designating over seven hundred miles of new routes in the Book Cliffs Travel Management Area, on top of those designated in 2008. Inundating the Book Cliffs with motorized vehicle routes would further fragment vital wildlife habitat and damage irreplaceable cultural resources.
The BLM is currently in the initial “scoping” phase of its travel planning process, which identifies issues the agency must consider. It is vital that the agency hears from the public that blanketing the Book Cliffs area with new motorized routes is unacceptable. Instead, the BLM must prioritize reducing the total miles of trail open to ORVs to protect these public lands for decades to come.
The most helpful comments will mention specific trails (by name or number) or areas; how you enjoy hiking, camping, wildlife watching and other non-motorized pursuits in the area; and that motorized use has already, or will in the future (if new trails are designated), conflict with your enjoyment of these public lands.
The BLM is accepting comments through July 8, 2021. Click here to make your voice heard.
If you prefer to email the agency directly, the address for scoping comments is BLM_UT_Vernal_Comments@blm.gov
Thank you for taking action!