OUTDOORS + RECREATION

BLM gets pushback after closing 300 miles of off-road trails near Moab

Oct 31, 2023, 9:45 AM | Updated: 4:48 pm

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MOAB — The Bureau of Land Management is facing a legal fight with off-road vehicle supporters after it closed over 300 miles of trails near Moab.

The shutdown affected trails in the Gemini Bridges and Labyrinth Canyon areas. It brought down its 1,100 miles of vehicle-focused trails to 812 miles.

 

“We were maintaining 71% of the trail system, and looking to reestablish vegetation and that cryptobiotic soil in some other areas,” said BLM Utah Communications Director Christina Judd.

She said this decision keeps many of the busiest trails open while protecting cryptobiotic soil.

Wilderness advocates rejoiced over the decision, while the Blue Ribbon Coalition and Colorado Offroad Trail Defenders appealed it.

The appeal

A statement from the Blue Ribbon Coalition, along with its appeal, claimed the block on vehicles entering public lands violates several laws in particular:

  • The National Environmental Policy Act. Before deciding on proposed rules, the act requires agencies to research how the proposal would affect the environment.
  • The Dingell Act. This act says agencies have to be reasonable in their interpretation of rules and laws.
  • The Appointments Clause of the US Constitution. This does several things but the groups focus their claims on some of the definitions put forth by the law. The groups claimed that because the BLM is not an elected officer, “the final actions taken by that employee are invalid and unconstitutional.”

The Interior Board of Land Appeals has a month and a half to issue a decision.

BLM response

“I just hope that when we look at the multiple-use mission for the BLM, that we can all agree that’s the best way to manage the land,” said Judd. “That we have conservation and recreation use… and you can’t do everything on every square inch of the public land, but you can do some of it everywhere.”

Judd added, “If there is a decision at a higher level, we will implement [it].”

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BLM gets pushback after closing 300 miles of off-road trails near Moab