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Don't let BLM close Moab's world class trail system

| Rose Winn, Cal4Wheel Natural Resources Consultant | Access Issues

The Bureau of Land Management in Southern Utah is updating the Travel Management Plan for the Labyrinth Rims/Gemini Bridges area near Moab. This region is one of the most popular areas in the world for off-road recreation. The BLM reached a settlement with the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance (SUWA) over routes that SUWA felt should be closed, and the BLM is now required to re-analyze popular trails like Rusty Nail, Hey Joe Canyon, Gold Bar Rim, and 10 Mile Wash. The travel management area covers over 300,000 acres of BLM managed land in portions of Grand County, Utah and includes many highly-valued OHV trails. Over 400 miles of OHV routes are at risk of closure.

As one of the most popular and iconic off-road and outdoor recreation destinations in the world, BLM should be finding ways to increase and enhance public access in this region. You can help in this fight to prevent OHV route closures by submitting comments supporting recreational access on these public lands. If possible, customize your comments with reasons why this area is important to you, and include any technical knowledge you have that would justify keeping these routes open. If you have visited the Moab region for off-roading in the past, or if you would like to in the future, your voice is needed!

The comment deadline has been extended to October 22, 2022. Without a strong united voice from the off-road and outdoor recreation community, BLM will be facing strong pressure to close hundreds of miles of iconic, unique, historic OHV routes in this area.

There are two ways you can submit your comment:

  1. Draft your own comment and submit directly to BLM via the TMP comment form.
  2. Use the Action Alert from BlueRibbon Coalition, one of Cal4Wheel’s partners in public land access advocacy - Comment on the Labyrinth Rim / Gemini Bridges Travel Management Plan.

Through either method, you may use the following points to customize your comments:

  • Per the settlement agreement with SUWA, BLM is not required to close any OHV routes, they are simply required to re-analyze them. Many routes are in need of improved signage to ensure that the route is clear for riders and prevent riders from venturing off-trail. BLM needs to improve management of OHV routes in this area – not close them for failure to manage them properly. The public should not suffer loss of public access to these world-class OHV trails – management by closure is not management.
  • BLM failed to provide an alternative for the Labyrinth Rims/Gemini Bridges SRMA that includes viable recreation management options.
  • All four alternatives under the draft Travel Management Plan (TMP) violate National Trail System Act requirements, which recognize motorized access as an appropriate activity.
  • The draft TMP fails to provide and ensure adequate camping access.
  • The draft TMP seeks to close areas on and around the Old Spanish Trail to motorized usage even though they serve an important and legitimate recreational value.
  • Alternative B seeks to close sections of the world-renowned Jeep Safari trails, which are critical routes for industry development, rider education and skill-building given the broad variety of technical routes with skill requirements ranging from beginner to seasoned expert.
  • Quality mapping data was not used to formulate the proposal; many globally recognized routes are only partially reflected in the TMP data provided to the public.
  • Incomplete and biased science is used as justification to assert that off-road recreation has caused death and habitat destruction for a variety of species (such as bighorn sheep, the Mexican Spotted Owl, and a variety of amphibians) where there is no evidence that off-road recreation has caused any disturbance to the species cited.
  • The draft TMP concludes that all recreational users spend similar amounts of money on outdoor recreation when motorized users may spend up to five times more in OHV rental fees and other costs.
  • The draft TMP provides no basis for its conclusion that only 7,348 visitor days would be lost under Alternative B despite the closure of 40% of routes.
DON’T DELAY! Please submit comments expressing support for Alternative A or Alternative D, and opposing Alternative B of the draft travel management plan for the Labyrinth Rims / Gemini Bridges area.

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