Salt Lake City, UT (August 24, 2020) — On Friday, August 21, the Bureau of Land Management released the final motorized vehicle travel management plan for the San Rafael Desert. We applaud the BLM’s careful analysis and extensive process of public involvement.
The San Rafael Desert has long been a destination for adventure-seekers and those wanting to explore Utah’s public lands. The plan increases public access to public lands by increasing the number of miles open to motorized recreation from 300 miles to 765 miles. This increased access will benefit all outdoor recreation enthusiasts.
The BLM was required to complete this travel management plan as part of a court-supervised settlement agreement and twelve more plans are scheduled to be completed over the next six years. It is encouraging to see the BLM show a strong commitment to protecting public access to public land in this first completed plan. In June 2020, as part of ongoing monitoring mandated by the settlement agreement, BLM inspected 24 sites that had been reported for off-road damage, and found that nine sites had fully reclaimed to their natural state, one site had increased disturbance, and the rest of the sites stayed the same or were improving. With a completed plan in place, the well-organized off-road community can begin the work of educating off-road users to follow the plan and allow for increased improvement to the environment.
“We intend to finish what we started years ago and go the distance for the people of Utah.” Said BRC’s Executive Director, Spencer Gilbert
“As more and more Americans turn to outdoors to improve their mental and physical health in the midst of a global pandemic, it is encouraging to see the BLM stand up for increasing public access to Utah’s beautiful landscapes. The BLM’s planning process was extensive and they struck a careful balance of protecting access, protecting the landscape, and protecting the economy of the surrounding area. With twelve more travel plans still in the works, it is crucial for the off-road community to show careful stewardship of the San Rafael Desert to encourage other BLM decision makers to promote public access to our public lands,” said Ben Burr, Policy Director at the BlueRibbon Coalition.
Land Management on public land is always a challenging task, but the task is made easier when plans address the concerns of the many stakeholders. The off-road community is ready and willing to assist the BLM in enforcing this plan. Most importantly, we’re ready to explore somewhere new, strengthen the bonds between friends and family, and seek adventure in ways that are only available on Utah’s public lands.