A federal judge in Utah is ordering the U.S. Bureau of Land Management to come up with a plan to protect cultural resources from off-highway vehicles along 4,300 miles of Utah trails, the American Motorcyclist Association reports.
The BLM, as well as anti-OHV groups, are expected to file briefs with the court related to this by Dec. 6 and respond to those arguments by Jan. 10.
On Nov. 4, Utah U.S. District Judge Dale Kimball issued a ruling that indicated the BLM didn’t do enough to protect the land and other resources in southern Utah when it approved a management plan in 2008 for the Richfield resource area. That plan includes 4,277 miles of motorized trails. The Richfield area involves some 2 million acres and includes such well-known landmarks as Factory Butte, the Henry Mountains and the Dirty Devil River.
The Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, joined by others, challenged OHV travel in the management plans for the Richfield area as well as five other BLM areas. The Richfield case is the first to receive a ruling.
“This is yet another example of anti-OHV forces using the courts to try to stop motorized recreation,” said Wayne Allard, AMA vice president for government relations. “They made several arguments to the court and the judge only agreed with this one. We are confident that the BLM will ultimately show that it is minimizing the impacts of OHVs on the 4,300 miles of trails and the trails will remain open.
“It’s interesting to note that these anti-OHV groups are also challenging five other land management plans in the courts,” Allard said. “The six plans involve about 11 million acres in Utah, which is almost the same amount of land that the groups would prefer to be designated as Wilderness – and then would be off-limits to OHVs – under legislation in Congress called America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act.
“That legislation was introduced by New Jersey U.S. Rep. Rush Holt in the House of Representatives and Illinois U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin in the Senate, and is opposed by Utah’s congressional delegation,” Allard said. “So it’s clear that anti-OHV groups take overlapping approaches in their attempts to get what they want, hoping to succeed one way or another.”
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