STOP SHUT-DOWN OF MOTORIZED MOAB TRAILS
BLM MAY BAN OHVS IN LABYRINTH RIMS/GEMINI BRIDGES BLM MAY BAN OHVS IN LABYRINTH RIMS/GEMINI BRIDGES BLM MAY BAN OHVS IN LABYRINTH RIMS/GEMINI BRIDGES
The Bureau of Land Management Moab, Utah, Field Office oversees 1.8 millions acres of public lands and is located in the heart of the Colorado Plateau. On its website (www.recreation.org) under “Find Your Next Adventure,” the Moab Field Office writes, “The Moab Field Office is a mecca for recreation, including Off-Highway Vehicles,
mountain biking, climbing, base jumping, hiking, horse-back riding, and river rafting. In addition to supporting millions of visitors and hundreds of recreation-related jobs in the local communities, Moab also supports a wide array of land uses such as oil and gas production, mining (Uranium!), and livestock grazing.”
Notice that OHV recreation is listed first, and there are several UTV/4×4 rental and/or tour companies in Moab, with more every time we visit. The OHV rental and tour companies employ hundreds of people and introduces thousands of people who visit primarily to see Canyonlands and Arches National Parks, two of Utah’s five NPs. The BLM had issued permits for the Rally On The Rocks UTV jamboree for the past 10 years, but Grand County officials essentially kicked the ROTR out of Moab in 2021, and the 2022 event was held in Sand Hollow State Park. Now the BLM may close 40-percent of area OHV trails to motorize3d use, impacting OHV enthusiasts and rental/tour companies.
As a result of the Settlement Agreement in Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance et al. v. U.S. Department of Interior et al., the Travel Management Plan (TMP) of the Labyrinth Rims/Gemini Bridges Special Recreation Management Area is now underway. The TMP will decide the fate of most of Moab’s most famous motorized trails and could close 40% of what is currently open to motorized use (including the Gold Bar Rim 4WD Trail and the Dead Cow motorcycle loop). Please send a letter to the BLM Moab Field Office that supports Alternative A in the draft TMP for the Labyrinth Rims/Gemini Bridges area by October 7, 2022.
Click here to submit your comments. Once the link opens, move the bar on the bottom all the way to the right, you will see another green bar called “Participate Now”. Click on that and you can submit your comments.
Motorized use of Moab trails has nearly doubled since 2008; no doubt that local tour and rental companies had a lot to do with that and would be affected by trail closures.
Bureau of Land Management Moab Field Office
82 Dogwood Avenue
Moab, Utah 84532(435) 259-2100
Americans for Responsible Recreational Access (ARRA) works to ensure access to recreational trails on public lands across the country. The diverse members of ARRA provide input on decisions regarding land use designation, recreation opportunities, and preservation.
As a member of ARRA and an outdoor enthusiast, I support preserving responsible recreational access to public lands for the motorized and non-motorized communities alike and am concerned with the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) Draft Travel Management Plan (TMP) for the Labyrinth Rims/Gemini Bridges area.
In 2008, the TMP closed more than 40% of inventoried routes plus around 200 miles of non-inventoried routes at the Labyrinth Rims/Gemini Bridges Special Recreation Management Area, seeking to balance motorized recreation with non-motorized recreation and natural resources. Volunteers and several local outdoor recreation groups have spent tens of thousands of hours implementing and refining the 2008 TMP in this area.
A 2017 settlement agreement requires the BLM to revisit the 2008 TMP in this area and allows the BLM to add routes. Still, the agency has chosen not to consider adding even a single mile of route in the TMP despite that the area’s motorized use has roughly doubled since 2008. Presenting alternatives that only close more trails is not a viable alternative for the outdoor recreation community.
The TMP lacks evidence for its assumption that all types of visitors spend similar amounts of money to participate in recreational activities in the area. Research demonstrates that most motorized trail users spend far more than other recreationists. For example, rental OHVs average $300 per day plus a tax rate of more than 18% in Moab, while most non-motorized gear rental is less than $100 per day plus a tax rate of under 9%.
The BLM should recognize the work the state of Utah is doing to increase its support of trail work, education, and law enforcement in the planning area. The new Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Division of Outdoor Recreation is hiring staff to do more trail work and enforcement patrols, specifically in southeast Utah. Further, Utah’s new Off-Road Vehicle Safety Education Act will require:
- All OHV operators to complete an education course;
- All ATVs to display license plates for easier identification; and
- Vehicle operators who are convicted of going off-trail to repair their damage through community service.
With these additional resources, the BLM can effectively implement Alternative A and resolve any issues with the status quo.
In conclusion, I urge the BLM to support Alternative A, the current route system, which offers 1,127 miles available for OHV use (1,057 miles of OHV-open use, 65 miles of OHV-limited use, and 5.5 miles open to e-bikes). The other alternatives would further decrease OHV opportunities that were already reduced by 40 percent just a few years ago and would squash positive economic impacts on the local economy. The other alternatives could also increase adverse effects on natural resources by funneling motorized users onto fewer trails. Alternative A provides various benefits that the area’s motorized routes offer and will ensure the preservation of those benefits for thousands of responsible outdoor enthusiasts who come from around the world to cherish trails in the Labyrinth Rims/Gemini Bridges Special Recreation Management Area.
Thank you for your consideration,