UTAH – BRC Comments on the San Rafael Desert Travel Management Plan DEIS

10.31.05 034

Yesterday the BlueRibbon Coalition submitted our comment for the San Rafael Desert Travel Management Plan Draft Environmental Analysis. As an intervening party in the settlement between multiple anti-access groups and the BLM, we have been actively monitoring the development of this plan. We have also been working with our partners from Sage Riders Motorcycle Club and Ride with Respect to ensure that the plan adopted by the BLM protects access for motorized recreation.

Our executive director, Spencer Gilbert, and our policy director, Ben Burr, went to the BLM open house in Castledale, Utah to review the BLM plans and coordinate with local riding groups.

We are already facing an uphill battle, since nearly 600,000 acres of prime riding areas were withdrawn through wilderness designations by the recently-passed Dingell Act. The San Rafael Desert is an area that will need to absorb the displaced OHV use that is no longer available due to wilderness designations. We made a strong case for the BLM to adopt Alternative D along with several modifications, which will all increase access.

Not surprisingly, the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance was promoting their efforts to create even more wilderness in this area.

We believe the designation of 600,000 acres of wilderness in the area should more than satisfy the BLM’s requirements to protect lands with wilderness characteristics. It is also worth noting that it is the job of the BLM to inventory land with wilderness characteristics – it isn’t SUWA’s job. The BLM completed this job back in the 1980s. The BLM should shift their focus now towards how they can help Utah communities like Green River and Hanksville realize the economic benefits that come from attracting OHV users to the area. A travel management plan that protects motorized recreation in the San Rafael Desert will be good for the nearby communities, it will be good for those of us wanting to explore this amazing area, and it will be good for the BLM to get back to the business of managing public land for all users instead of spending decades in litigation with environmental groups who move the goal posts on every play and are never satisfied.

We appreciate the many members of the off-road community who participated with us in this process.

You can read the comment we submitted here:  http://bit.ly/BRC-SRD-DEA-Comment

Thanks in advance and, as always, if you have any questions or concerns, please contact BRC.

Ben Burr
Policy Director
BlueRibbon Coalition
brben@sharetrails.org