Critics say a new Bureau of Land Management proposal that would sharply limit off-highway vehicle travel in the Moab area doesn't go far enough and should have more time for pubic discussion.
The Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance is expressing that viewpoint as the BLM gets ready for a series of public meetings to discuss the proposal. Those meetings are scheduled for tonight in Moab, Wednesday in Monticello, Thursday in Grand Junction, Colo., and Oct. 3 in Salt Lake City.
SUWA attorney Steve Bloch told the Deseret Morning News editorial board Monday the BLM has "blown their internal deadline" for getting the draft resource management proposal and environmental impact statement ready, "but now they want to stay on schedule" with a 90-day comment period that runs through November. The BLM timeline includes a protest period on the final document next May and June, with a final decision on the management plan slated for July.
SUWA development manager Deeda Seed said the BLM's current management plan for the Moab area was developed before the current surge in popularity of off-road vehicles. SUWA believes the BLM's preferred update of the management plan still allows too much terrain for mechanized vehicles.
Present rules allow off-highway vehicle travel across 620,212 acres in the BLM area that surrounds Arches National Park. On nearly 1.2 million acres, OHV travel is limited to existing roads and trails, while 5,062 acres are closed to OHV travel.
The BLM's preferred option going forward would close 339,298 acres to OHV travel, limit OHV use to designated routes on almost 1.5 million acres and open 1,866 acres to cross-country travel at White Wash Sand Dunes.Pertinent reports, including both the draft plan and supporting studies, are available online at blm.gov/ut/st/en/fo/moab/planning.html. The site explains how to submit comments either in person at meetings, through mail or electronically. Comments will be accepted until Nov. 30.