On August 21, 2020, the Price Field Office of the BLM announced their motorized travel plan for the San Rafael Desert. At the time we shared our support for the BLM’s plan. Prior to the planning effort there were around 300 miles recognized as open for motorized travel. We participated extensively in the planning process as the BLM inventoried 1,180 miles of routes, and ended up authorizing a total of almost 800 miles of routes.
We can’t say we got everything we wanted out of this plan, but the reason the BLM was performing this planning process at all was because, the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance and other anti-access groups challenged the original plan that included 300 open miles. Not surprisingly, they were disappointed in the decision, and we have recently learned that they have appealed the BLM’s decision and requested that the BLM stay the decision.
We are scrutinizing SUWA’s appeal, and we will be publicly sharing our findings soon.
As we construct our response to SUWA it would be beneficial to demonstrate to the BLM that there is strong support in the recreation community to keep the San Rafael Desert open for recreation. According to SUWA the BLM’s plan opens 6,487 acres of this area to motorized travel and dispersed camping. This is only about 1% of the 377,000 acres of the planning area.
If there is anything that should be changed with this plan, it would be to open more of the San Rafael Desert for recreational use.
According to SUWA, they “have members who have visited the San Rafael Desert many times in the past, and have definite plans to go back in the near future. The San Rafael Desert travel plan adversely affects Appellants’ members’ health, recreational spiritual, educational aesthetic and other interests in the San Rafael Desert.”
We need to hear from our members and supporters about why you look forward to opening motorized recreation and dispersed camping on 1% of the San Rafael Desert.