New travel plan for Moab area public land prioritizes conservation

Oct 2, 2023

A new Bureau of Land Management travel plan for more than 300,000 acres of public land in southeast Utah prioritizes conservation and protects wildlife habitat and cultural resources. The plan, which is supported by local officials and the boating community, closes around 400 miles of dirt roads in the planning area, leaving over 800 miles available to off-roaders.

The plan seeks to balance recreation and conservation in a much-visited area that has seen a surge in off-road vehicle use in recent years, according to High Country News. The land included in the plan surrounds popular destinations like Labyrinth Canyon, a 49-mile segment of the Green River that is federally protected under the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act.

The Labyrinth Rims/Gemini Bridges area travel management plan is one of 11 travel management plans covering more than 6 million acres of public land in Utah the BLM must complete by 2025 due to a lawsuit brought by environmental groups over plans completed during the George W. Bush administration. The Labyrinth Rims/Gemini Bridges plan is the third of these plans. One hundred percent of the land within the Bush-era Labyrinth Rims/Gemini Bridges plan was within two miles of an off-road vehicle route, while 94 percent were within a half-mile of one, according to the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, which was involved in the lawsuit.

Farewell to conservation champion Dianne Feinstein

U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein died at age 90 last week. Feinstein helped protect millions of acres of California public land. She led efforts to elevate Death Valley and Joshua Tree to national park status and create Mojave National Preserve, areas that are home to bighorn sheep and desert tortoises as well as petroglyphs.

“Dianne Feinstein was one of America’s great conservation champions,” said Center for Western Priorities Executive Director Jennifer Rokala. “She knew that conservation victories were the result of hard work and years of negotiation—getting stakeholders who might not see eye-to-eye around a table for dozens or even hundreds of hours to hammer out an agreement. That kind of commitment and work ethic should serve as a model for everyone who cares about protecting America’s natural treasures for future generations.”

Quick hits

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Yellowstone Public Radio

Drivers behaving badly in Colorado backcountry, outdoor officials say

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Zion National Park shuttle buses are ditching propane, going electric


Forest Service tentatively approves Crazy Mountain land swap

Montana Free Press

Fossil fuel rules catch Western towns between old economies and new green goals


How Dianne Feinstein helped preserve the California desert

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USDA review of Hotshot program recommends changes to ‘unsustainable system’

Boise State Public Radio

Quote of the day

This is a long-overdue update of our oil and gas rules that will make a huge difference on the ground for the future of so many communities… If the regulations don’t keep up with actual market needs, you create this strange place where the communities are not winning from either recreation or oil and gas.”

—Ashley Korenblat of Public Land Solutions, NPR

Picture This

mama bear and cub standing in the forest in fall


“But Moooooom, I’m not tired!” Don’t worry, young cub — you still have time to snack on berries, nuts, fish and meat before winter drives you into your den.

Photo by Eric Trefney

Feature image: The Green River flows through Labyrinth Canyon near Moab, Utah. Credit: le fromage, Flickr