BLM Releases New Plan for Moab Area

The plan limits motorized recreation to protect natural and cultural resources.

2 minute read

October 6, 2023, 7:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

Rainbow over red rocks and river in Utah's Labyrinth Canyon.

Rainbow over Labyrinth Canyon, Utah. | James / Adobe Stock

“On Thursday, the Bureau of Land Management released a new travel management plan for the Labyrinth Rims/Gemini Bridges area near Moab, Utah.” As Brooke Larsen writes in High Country News, the plan will affect over 300,000 acres of land that has seen a growing influx of recreational users, causing concern among environmental groups.

According to Laura Peterson, staff attorney with the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance (SUWA), “The Labyrinth Canyon plan represents an important step forward to guide the management of Utah’s public lands and reduce the impacts of off-road vehicle routes in this area.” The plan restricts motorized recreation to just over 800 miles of routes, less than the previously available 1,200 miles, to protect sensitive riparian areas and wildlife, canyon rims, and cultural resources. “Georgie Pongyesva, a member of the Hopi Tribe and current tribal liaison for Grand Staircase Escalante Partners, told High Country News that the need to protect culturally important places in the Labyrinth Canyon area is connected to similar efforts across the Colorado Plateau.”

Larsen adds that “River runners have been especially concerned about ORV travel, citing its impact on the ecosystem as well as on their own recreation experience.” Living Rivers director John Weisheit says ORV users should be held responsible for protecting the environment, just as river runners are. The BlueRibbon Coalition, a motorized recreation advocacy group, plans to appeal the plan. 

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