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Off-Road Trails Totaling 437 Miles In MOAB Are In Danger Of Being Closed

Numerous trails in the Moab area are in jeopardy because to the Labyrinth Rims / Gemini Bridges travel management procedure being carried out by the BLM's Moab Field Office (anticipated to be finished by 2024). There are 437 miles of wonderful, breathtaking, and unique trails at risk.

Due to a legal settlement with the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance (SUWA), which wants to close as many trails as possible so that the area west of Moab can be administered as Wilderness, a new travel strategy is being developed for this region. On the basis of fabricated claims of "user conflicts," the Grand County Commission and Moab city administration are also requesting that the BLM close a number of well-liked 4x4 trails so that they can be turned into hiking and mountain biking paths.

About 23 million acres, or nearly half of the state of Utah, are federal lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), a division of the Interior Department. The Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 (FLPMA), 90 Stat. 2744, 43 U.S.C. 1701 et seq., which "established a policy in favor of retaining public lands for multiple use management," has governed BLM's management of public lands for almost 30 years. 497 U.S. 871, 877 (Lujan v. National Wildlife Federation) (1990).

"Multiple use management" is an incredibly difficult process of balancing the many conflicting uses that land can be put to, including but not limited to: recreation, range, timber, minerals, watershed, wildlife and fish, and [uses serving] natural scenic, scientific, and historical values. The term is deceptively simple, but it accurately captures the complexity of the task at hand. 43 U.S.C. § 1702(c) (c). A second management objective called "sustained yield" calls for BLM to manage diminishing uses over time in order to guarantee a high level of beneficial uses in the future.

The provisions of Sections 1711 and 1712, respectively, call for a thorough, ongoing inventory of federal lands and a land use planning procedure that "project[s]" "present and future use," 1701(a)(2), taking into account the characteristics of the lands inventoried. We wrote an article back in 2021 using similar language of "A project of the multilateral development banking system" in Wall Street’s Takeover of Nature Advances with Launch of New Asset Class and highly suspect that on Sept 22, 2021, when the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) had announced it had developed a NEW asset class and accompanying listing vehicle meant “to preserve and restore the natural assets that ultimately underpin the ability for there to be life on Earth.”

Naturally, not all applications are compatible. According to Congress, some lands should be preserved for wilderness purposes at the expense of business and recreational activities. The Wilderness Act of 1964, 78 Stat. 890, a pre-FLPMA law, states that designated wilderness areas "shall [have] no commercial enterprise and no permanent road," no motorized vehicles, and no man-made structures, subject to certain exceptions. 16 U.S.C. § 1133(c) (c). According to 43 U.S.C. 1782, only an act of Congress may designate a wilderness area (b).

Clearly this creates a multi-faceted issue of great magnitude in even further directions that can not only affect the lands preservation and maintenance of that but affect tourism, volunteer efforts, job or business creation changing the dichotomy of economics and land use overall.

The Secretary of the Interior has identified "wilderness study areas" (WSAs), or roadless lands of 5,000 acres or more, in accordance with Section 1782. These lands have "wilderness characteristics," as determined by the Secretary's land inventory. 1782(a), as well as 16 U.S.C. 1131 (c). As the name implies, WSAs have undergone additional scrutiny and public comment in order to determine whether they are suitable for designation as wilderness (as well as some wild lands identified prior to the passage of FLPMA). In 1991, it was suggested that 2 million of the 3.3 million acres in Utah that had been identified for study be designated as wilderness. 1 Utah Statewide Wilderness Study Report, BLM, U.S. Department of the Interior 3 (Oct. 1991). Congress received this recommendation but has not yet taken any action.

According to FLPMA, "the Secretary shall continue to manage such lands... in a manner so as to not undermine the suitability of such regions for preservation as wilderness" until Congress takes a position. 43 U.S.C. § 1782(c) (c). All WSAs classified under Section 1782 are subject to the non-impairing requirement, even if the Secretary deems the land inappropriate.

Which Trails are in Danger of Motor Vehicle Closure?

Many extremely popular 4x4 trails (including most of the Jeep Safari trails northwest of MOAB) are at risk of closure, including Hey Joe Canyon, Ten Mile Canyon, Hell Roaring Canyon, Mineral Canyon, Golden Spike, Gold Bar Rim, Rusty Nail, Day Canyon Point, Dead Man Point, Hell Roaring Rim, Dry Fork Bull Canyon, Four Arches Canyon, the 7-Up trail, the 3D and Mashed Potatoes Jeep trails, the Dead Cow and Tubes motorcycle trails, and parts of Where Eagles Dare, Buttes and Towers, Wipe-Out Hill, and Sevenmile Mile Rim.

Those who have visited Moab know the allure of the location, and your memories will last a lifetime. Let us keep all of the paths available for future generations to enjoy!

CORE has put together a video discussing the details of the plan, we highly encourage you to take 30min to watch the video and take action!

What can you do to help?

Please comment, opposing these closures and asking the BLM to keep all of these trails open to motorized use. More information can be found on the Blue Ribbon Coalition website. A map of the route designations for each alternative is available here.


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