In 1996 President Clinton designated 1.9 million acres in Southern Utah as the Grand Staircase-Escalanate National Monument (GSENM). In 2017, President Trump reduced the size of the monument and then in 2021 President Biden re-expanded the monument. With each new designation the Bureau of Land Management needs to update the Resource Management Plan (RMP). This process sometimes takes several years to accomplish and is the overall management plan in which plans such as the Travel Management Plan follow. This is one more piece in Biden’s goal to accomplish 30×30 which will lock up more and more land from public access. Although BRC believes there needs to be a better long term solution, the ping pong game of the monument’s boundaries is not sustainable, this is an opportunity to influence public land access in Southern Utah.
The BLM is currently accepting scoping comments for the RMP. Scoping is the first phase of the planning process. These comments will give a broad idea of what the public wants and needs and will help shape alternatives that are analyzed in the next step of the process. It is crucial for our members to engage and send in comments that support continued access on the monument. Areas such as the the Little Desert OHV open area and the V-Road, Inchworm Arch Road are being considered for closure as well as putting limitations on the amount of people in a group that can access specific areas. You can read the BLM’s proposals here. Please stand with us and submit a comment using the tool below.
BRC also recently announced that we are suing the Biden Administration in response to the monument designations for Bears Ears and Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument. The State of Utah is also challenging these designations. Until the concerns we raise about abuse of the Antiquities Act are resolved, it is premature for BLM to be developing these plans.
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Despite the need to resolve legal challenges, it is likely the BLM will continue forward with these plans. The local economies of communities such as Escalante and Kanab rely on continued access for the monument. Multiple use on these lands are the culture and history of these towns, without it the economies will suffer. BLM needs to hear from you. Comments are due September 27, 2022.