The BLM has released it’s draft plan for the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in Southern Utah. BRC engaged its members in 2022 during the scoping period. Comments are accepted until November 9, 2023.
The BLM will hold meetings to answer questions at the following dates and locations:
- Sept. 6, 2023, from 10 a.m. – 12 p.m. MT. The meeting will be held via Zoom. Register here: https://bit.ly/3OMpm3Y.
- Oct. 25, 2023, from 2 p.m. – 4 p.m. MT. The meeting will be held via Zoom. Register here: https://bit.ly/3DQAOFA.
- Sept. 20, 2023, from 6 p.m. – 8 p.m. MT, Escalante Interagency Visitor Center, 755 W Main St, Escalante, UT 84726
- Oct. 4, 2023, from 6 p.m. – 8 p.m. MT, Kanab Center, Ballroom A, 20 N 100 E, Kanab, UT 84741
- Oct. 18, 2023, from 6 p.m. – 8 p.m. MT, Panguitch Elementary School Gymnasium, 110 S 100 W, Panguitch, UT 84759
Due to President Biden expanding the boundaries of GSENM, the BLM is in the process of updating the management plan that will include the additional acreage. The 3 additional alternatives proposed are all blatant reductions in access for the public and are unacceptable options. Because BRC and the State of Utah are currently litigating the expansion of the monument, the BLM should not move forward with the planning process. However, until legislation is passed to defund this planning process the public needs to submit comments letting the BLM know that the options are not viable for users and local communities. Please send in a comment below and add your own personal experiences and thoughts into your comment.
Alternative D, is the most restrictive option given. All alternatives will greatly reduce recreation and access across the entire monument. The Little Desert Open OHV will be closed which has a long history of use by the public. Although the majority of specific route closures will be addressed in Travel Management Planning, this plan sets the stage for those closures as you can see in the map below. Wood gathering within the entire monument could be prohibited, target shooting, fires unless in a fire pan would also be prohibited. Group sizes will be limited to 25 people. Routes that provide OHV access, camping access and access for local ranchers could also be closed. In OHV-limited areas, road density would be minimized. There are already so few roads within the monument, the fact the BLM is considering limiting road density even more is egregious. The roads that are already within the monument have difficulty being maintained simply because the BLM will not allow the county to maintain these routes. It is quoted in the plan that OHV use could continue to result in damage to resources. The BLM should first prove the resource damage caused by OHV’s before they claim use will “continue” to cause damage.
Many of these routes were created by local ranchers. However, through this planning process grazing will be greatly restricted and reduced. Allotments with no valid permit will be unavailable to grazing along with about half of the monument which is nearly one million acres closed to livestock grazing.
“No new structural range improvements would be permitted unless a current (within the last 10 years) land health assessment and determination are completed for the allotment, unless the improvement would exclude livestock from an area and/or provide protection of GSENM objects. Nonstructural range improvements with a primary purpose of increasing forage for livestock would be prohibited.”
There is also the potential that 559,600 acres will be managed as lands with wilderness characteristics. Multiple new Areas of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC) will be designated and historically these designations close or restrict use to all users. Restrictive management is what the BLM and special interest groups are advocating for which will remove all users from this massive monument.
All of these restrictions and proposals pose a massive threat to the local economies. There has already been a decline in the communities since the monument was first designated and these proposals will only exacerbate the issue. The plan states, “Under all alternatives, GSENM would continue to stimulate the local and regional economy through increased jobs, wages, economic output, nonmarket values, and ecosystem services from its uses, such as recreational opportunities and grazing and ranching allotments.” This statement is laughable as all alternatives restrict users and cripple local economies.
Submit a comment to the BLM below, including why you believe this land needs to be managed for multiple use.