The Greatest Threat to Utah’s OHV Trails in Decades

On January 13, 2017 the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) announced a proposed settlement in a longstanding lawsuit filed by the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance (SUWA) and other environmental litigants.

In exchange for agreeing to dismiss the lawsuit, the settlement mandates new travel plans be completed for approximately half of the lands within the Richfield, Vernal, Price, Moab and Kanab field offices.

The provisions in the settlement make it likely that the new travel plans will close a significant percentage of the roads and trails that are currently open for motorized use.

Click below to learn details about the settlement and updates on the planning process.

The Threat:

In 2004 the U.S. Supreme Court dealt the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance (SUWA) a stunning blow in the form of a rare 9 to 0 unanimous decision against a lawsuit seeking to close millions of acres of Bureau of Land Management land in Utah to motorized recreation.

A unanimous Supreme Court ruling would settle the issue, don’t you think?

Think again! When it comes to the public’s rights to access public lands, such precedents are mere speed-bumps to the radical environmentalist’s agenda.

Indeed, just 4 short years after the 9-0 Supreme Court decision, SUWA was back in court demanding a federal judge close the very same routes.
SUWA is a little older and wiser now and a new tactic is being used to close roads and trails. After an initial victory in one field office, SUWA now says it wants to drop the entire case and is asking the same judge to dismiss their victory… with prejudice.

I know what you’re thinking…. “what’s the catch?” — right?

The settlement SUWA is proposing does dismiss the bad ruling. And that is a good thing. But in exchange for dismissing a geographically limited ruling against OHV use in BLM’s Richfield Field Office, SUWA wants a total revision of BLM’s travel plans for approximately half of the lands within 5 Field Offices across Utah. (Richfield, Vernal, Price, Moab and Kanab). (Click here for a not-so-brief background of the case.)

Gotta hand it to SUWA here. This deal could represent the greatest threat to Utah’s most prized OHV trails – and its cloaked as dropped a lawsuit and a roll-back of a bad decision.

Despite all of the rosy feel good media from SUWA and the BLM, the settlement is likely to close a significant percentage of the roads and trails that are currently open for motorized use.

Now, as of this writing, the court has not approved the settlement. The counties and the State of Utah are fighting hard to oppose it. However, I am strongly convinced that the OHV community must begin immediately to prepare to participate in the planning mandated by the settlement.

We’ve dug into the proposed settlement and posted details below. We will also post regular updates as the planning efforts move along – so keep checking back.

More info on the web:
Link to proposed settlement agreement
BLM’s Q&A
Press release

Newsclips:
BLM, environmental groups, off-roaders make deal on roads, oil and gas
Settlement proposed for contentious land-use plans in 8 counties
BLM announces deal to end years-long lawsuit

Detailed Analysis – SUWA v DOI Settlement

Check back soon for more updates!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *