In 2021, the Bureau of Land Management began the process to re-do the travel management as required by the SUWA lawsuit. 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. We also made Freedom of Information Act requests for the public comments from anti-access groups, so we could learn in advance what they will be fighting to close.
The Grand County Commission officially proposed to close dozens more routes than even the anti-access wilderness alternative. Specifically they urged closing all of the Dead Cow motorcycle loop, Hey Joe Mine, Day Canyon Point, Rusty Nail, and Gold Bar Rim / Golden Spike (although they recommend Gold Bar Rim / Golden Spike would still be open to full-size vehicles). Below are some of the quotes from a Grand County Commission meeting where they approved the recommendations to the BLM.
- “I am so flustered and just amazed to hear the level of selfishness coming out of the supporters of roads everywhere for anyone.” Apparently according to this individual, it’s selfish to advocate for an area to be open for all users and it is unselfish to close access to users you don’t like.
- “I’ve Jeeped all over the place too.” Apparently it is perfectly fine for this individual to access the area in a vehicle – just not everyone else.
- “I am completely through listening to these guys – especially after hearing this group of people telling me they have a right to 4-wheel everywhere. No. You have a right to walk, and watch and look and be everywhere, but you don’t have a right to do whatever you want on every acre of public land.” Absolutely no one in the meeting was arguing for the right to do whatever they want on every acre of public land. This is a straw man argument. And this poor argument shouldn’t distract from the revolting bigotry inherent in the claim that we only have the right to walk on public land. One of the most common reasons we find that people support motorized access to public land is because they or someone they know is disabled.
- “I’m so furious about this. You guys don’t know there were bikers up there because we didn’t leave an impact like you damn Jeepers do everywhere you go.” Because of the high profile efforts Grand County has made to target UTVs with heavy-handed restrictions, we often find that many off-road recreation users erroneously assume that the elected officials of Grand County only have a problem with UTVs. Several of these commissioners have direct ties to anti-access groups. They want to close roads, so they can create wilderness. They will intentionally try to divide outdoor recreation users to slowly close as much as they can. Wilderness groups are fighting just has hard to close mountain bike trails in Utah as they are fighting to close motorized trails. We appreciate that this commenter made it clear that equal-opportunity hostility exists towards all forms of motorized recreation, and one look at the proposed map with its aggressive closures of popular Jeep trails shows that Grand County is working in lockstep with individuals like this to shut down our public lands.