Tenmile Canyon winds its way through layers of Navajo sandstone until it reaches the Green River in Labyrinth Canyon. Its spring-fed stream, meandering through expansive cottonwood galleries, is an oasis in Utah’s hot desert landscape. If this place touches us, it was appealing to ancient civilizations, too. Evidence of their presence is there in fascinating rock art displays and numerous cultural sites dating back as far as 5,000 years.
Although Tenmile enjoyed relative obscurity for eons after the mammoth hunters left, the canyon’s seclusion, and the tranquility that came with it, suddenly vanished in the mid-1990s. That’s when the Moab office of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) decided to surrender this spectacular canyon to dirt bike and ATV events.
Those early and stunningly ill-considered decisions were the beginning of the end for idyllic Tenmile Canyon. Today, gangs of riders kitted out in full-body armor race full-throttle up and down the canyon, charging cross-country up to the rims, forging new trails up side canyons. It has become a moto-cross obstacle course, and not merely with the BLM’s acquiescence but with its active encouragement.
The once-lush floodplain has disappeared under the scars of innumerable deep ATV and dirt bike ruts. The stream is no longer a healthy, functioning riparian area. Archaeological sites have been looted and vandalized.
What about the ever-vigilant Moab BLM, you know, the agency that is duty-bound to manage public lands for all of us? The BLM has placed dozens of helpful route signs up and down Tenmile, directing riders through the dozens of creek crossings, up to benches, through thick floodplain vegetation—in short, encouraging the carnage.
What can you do? Contact the Moab BLM. At a minimum, your query will remind the Moab BLM that Tenmile Canyon is neither out of sight nor out of mind and that sooner or later, the agency will be called to account for the destruction it has promoted in this once-splendid place.
Please write to: