SAVE MOAB: A TIMELINE FOR ACTION

Current Status of Challenge to Moab Trail Closures

December 22, 2023 – BRC took their challenge to the federal government’s arbitrary and illegal closure of over 300 miles of trails near Moab, UT, to federal district court for the District of Utah. The federal court filing follows a ruling by the Interior Board of Land Appeals to deny a stay of the closures earlier this month. Now it will be up to a Utah federal judge to decide whether the trails will remain closed while the litigation is pending, or whether they will be open and available to the hundreds of thousands of Jeepers, mountain bikers, dirt bike riders, and others who have enjoyed them for decades.

Important Background Information

2008 – The Moab Bureau of Land Management Completed the 2008 Resource Management Plan, which closed a substantial portion of off-road routes in the Moab area. The effort to close these trails is part of a long-term agenda that has been in play longer than many user groups have been using the area.

2017 -The lawsuit challenging the 2008 Resource Management Plan for Moab ended in a settlement that was agreed to in 2017 between several wilderness groups, the Department of the Interior, and recreation groups including BlueRibbon Coalition. The settlement required the Bureau of Land Management to update 13 travel management plans in Utah, that would impact access to over 10,000 miles of off-road routes in Utah.

2019 – The Dingell Act passed which would designate Wilderness in Emery County along with designating the Green River as a Wild and Scenic river. Different portions of the river were designated with “wild”, “scenic” or “recreational” values. The river segments that border Labyrinth Rims were designated to still allow for motorized access. This bill also restricts any form of “buffer zone” meaning land agencies cannot manage land outside of Wilderness boundaries as wilderness. 

2021 – the Bureau of Land Management began the process to re-do the travel management in Labyrinth Rims/Gemini Bridges. The National Environmental Policy Act, otherwise known as NEPA, requires the federal government to gather public comments, analyze various options and different affects a travel plan will have on the environment both ecologically, socially and economically. Scoping, which is the first phase concluded on April 26, 2021. BRC and it’s members engaged during this process to submit comments encouraging the BLM to keep open all the routes within the planning area so the public could continue to have access to this iconic area. 

2022 – The draft Environmental Assessment (EA) was released for the travel management plan for Labyrinth Rims/Gemini Bridges. In the EA the various alternatives were released proposing hundreds of miles of closures. BRC, along with thousands of members submitted comments advocating for the recreation alternative which would result in the least amount of closures. BRC spent many days on the ground inventorying routes that were slated for closure in preparation to potentially appeal a bad decision.

August 2023 – BlueRibbon Coalition released Volume 2 of the Lost Trails Guidebook. This guidebook highlights routes within the travel planning area (and other areas) which were at risk for closure, and many closed as a result of the travel decision. We focused on trails that include a wide range of technical difficulty and terrain. The trails also lead to spectacular scenery, recreation experiences, and amazing dispersed camping sites.

Order a copy of the Lost Trails Guidebook Here. 

Summer 2023 Labyrinth Rims/Gemini Bridges Camping Decision was made. This decision set the stage for the release of the travel management plan. In 2022, BRC and its members submitted public comments on the camping management plan for the Labyrinth Rims/Gemini Bridges area. If dispersed campsites could be closed, then routes could be labeled as “providing no recreational value”. Original dispersed campsites were inventoried with 356 being recorded. BLM proposed to close many of these due to wildlife. No new campsites would be allowed. This plan would only allow designated dispersed campsites. 

September 28, 2023 – the Bureau of Land Management released the decision on the Labyrinth Rims/Gemini Bridges. The plan closes 317 miles of the most popular backcountry roads in the world. It limits or prohibits camping access to countless free, primitive dispersed campsites. It closes numerous RS2477 county roads. It closes several trails featured in BRC’s Volume 2 of the Lost Trails Guidebook. It also restricts recreation access to scenic viewpoints, high value jeep trails, and scenic driving routes. BRC immediately issued a release stating that we will fight this decision. BRC also released 5 actions members of the public could take in order to challenge this decision.

Fall 2023 – BRC worked with our contacts in Washington DC in order to help draft legislation to address the concerns with this decision. On October 26, 2023 Utah’s Senator Lee, introduced legislation in the U.S. Senate to defund implementation of the plan, called the Historic Roadways Protection Act. Three weeks later, Utah Representative John Curtis introduced this legislation in the U.S. House. 

October 30, 2023 BRC files its challenge to close these routes through an administrative appeal. BRC initiated our challenge with the filing of a notice of administrative appeal with the Interior Board of Land Appeals, in conjunction with a motion to stay the closures while the appeal is pending. The challenge alleges that the closures violate the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the Dingell Act, and the Appointments Clause of the U.S. Constitution, in addition to being arbitrary and capricious. Federal regulations require the decision to not go into effect until a ruling on the petition to stay is reached.

 

November 28, 2023 – BRC received word that the Department of Interior appeals board denied the petition to stay the trail closures in Moab. They also denied the petition to stay from the State of Utah.

*This means the trails are now officially closed, and we encourage everyone to no longer use closed trails.

December 22, 2023 – BRC took their challenge to the federal government’s arbitrary and illegal closure of over 300 miles of trails near Moab, UT, to federal district court for the District of Utah. The federal court filing follows a ruling by the Interior Board of Land Appeals to deny a stay of the closures earlier this month. Now it will be up to a Utah federal judge to decide whether the trails will remain closed while the litigation is pending, or whether they will be open and available to the hundreds of thousands of Jeepers, mountain bikers, dirt bike riders, and others who have enjoyed them for decades.

This Plan Has Broken the Balance of a Well-Managed Area

BlueRibbon Coalition has been part of the fight to keep Moab’s trails open since 2008. With the recent decision from the Bureau of Land Management to close 317 miles of world-class trails in Moab, we are doubling down on our commitment to fight as long as it takes to keep these trails open!

 

The map to the right shows the dozens of popular named trails that were closed in the Labyrinth Rims/Gemini Bridges Plan. Many of the unnamed trails are spur routes to spectacular dispersed campsites that overlook deep canyons.

With millions of acres of restricted lands surrounding Moab, this area was managed well for multiple recreation uses. This plan has broken the balance of management that existed in this popular area.

While This Plan is a Setback, the Release of the Plan is Just One More Step in a Bigger Process. Here Are Actions You Can Take Today to Make an Impact on the Final Outcome

Support Our Legal Challenge

This decision is causing irreparable harm to our members, and we will do whatever it takes to challenge this decision in the courts.

Support the Historic Roadways Protection Act

The Historic Roadways Protection Act would defund the implementation of this plan and prevent these closures from becoming permanent. Contact your member of Congress and tell them to support this legislation.

Help us Get Out the Message

Follow us on social media to get the latest updates and help us spread the word. You can also join our Social Media Strike Force below.

Historic Roadways Protection Act to Get Hearing in U.S. Senate

Historic Roadways Protection Act to Get Hearing in U.S. Senate

On June 12 the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will hold a hearing on the Historic Roadways Protection Act. This legislation would restrict the Bureau of Land Management from closing roads through implementation of recently completed travel plans in Utah...

Oppose New Areas of Critical Environmental Concern in Bears Ears National Monument

Oppose New Areas of Critical Environmental Concern in Bears Ears National Monument

Bears Ears National Monument in southeast Utah is updating the resource management plan, the overarching plan that will direct the future of the monument for decades. This plan will show which areas are off limits to certain users including mining, recreation,...

Dolores River Travel Management Plan: More Moab Closures

Dolores River Travel Management Plan: More Moab Closures

Another travel plan affecting trails near Moab is being considered by the Bureau of Land Management. The area is East of Moab where the Dolores River crosses over the Colorado/Utah border, and includes popular trails such as Rose Garden Hill, Buckhorn Draw, Hideout...

Take a deeper dive into this plan by listening to our podcast interviews

Support the Fight to Save Our Moab Trails

You can double your impact by donating to one of these "matching donation" fundraising drives! Scroll through to see several great ways to support this fight.

UPLA Matching Fundraising Drive

Utah Public Lands Alliance is running a strong fundraiser to raise $100,000 for our legal fights. They have commited $50,000 in matching funds, and they need your help to reach this goal.

Red Rock 4 Wheelers Matching Fundraising Drive

Red Rock 4 Wheelers was one of the first groups to make a substantial donation to our fight to keep our Moab trails open. They have also committed match up to another $25,000. This is another great matching fundraising drive that could use your support!

Tri-State ATV Club Matching Fundraising Drive

Tri-State ATV Club is showing big support with a matching fundraising drive.

Castle Country OHV Club Matching Fundraiser

The Castle Country OHV Association is matching up to $1,000 in donations. Small local clubs can make a big impact.