Wayne County Residents, Businesses and Conservationists Seek Protection for Central Utah's Famous Facotry Butte

Groups propose solution by which federal officials can reduce ORV damage to photogenic landmark

SALT LAKE CITY A group of Wayne County residents and businesses and the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance today asked federal officials to stop the damage off-road vehicles (ORVs) are doing to one of Utah’s most singular and photogenic landmarks.  The coalition is offering the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) a solution that protects Factory Butte by limiting off-road vehicles to a manageable ORV area and designated roads.
 
“The solution balances protection of the area’s unique and striking  formations while allowing ample opportunities for motorized recreation,” said Randy Ramsley, a local farmer and owner of the Caineville Mesa Market who also serves as the director of Friends of Factory Butte.

“The region’s economy depends on the magnificent scenery of the area,” added Ramsley.  “Friends of Factory Butte and SUWA are offering a solution that protects our livelihoods and leaves all Utah residents, from hikers to ORV users, the freedom to enjoy this natural treasure.”

Scientific studies show that unconstrained ORV use is causing extreme soil loss and long-lasting damage to the landscape.  A study conducted by Dr. John C. Dohrenwend, adjunct professor in the department of geosciences at the University of Arizona, concluded that off-road vehicles are speeding up soil loss by four times the natural rate, and that over the years ORVs have caused the loss of about one million pounds of soil per hillslope acre. This produced between 5 to 15 tons of salt that may contaminate important farming water sources.  Local residents also worry that dust churned up by the vehicles is polluting local air and water with salt and heavy metals.

Factory Butte is surrounded by an ancient seabed whose dramatic, knife-edged ridges and steep slopes are recognized around the world.  (See photo links below.)  Professional and amateur photographers and hundreds of thousands of tourists traveling Utah Scenic Byway 24 from Hanksville, Utah, to Capitol Reef National Park seek out this unique landscape every year.

“When I was a Park Ranger at Capitol Reef National Park, visitors would always comment about the stark beauty of the badlands,” said Stephen Trimble, photographer and author whose books include “The Sagebrush Ocean: A Natural History of the Great Basin.”  “The sculptural lines of the Butte rising above the scalloped hills of gray badlands create a classic composition, a perfect canvas.  But it’s becoming nearly impossible to get a view of Factory Butte without ORV scars.”

Said Herb McHarg of the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, “extreme off-road vehicle sport riders are destroying the landscape and the opportunity for all other visitors to enjoy, not destroy, the Factory Butte area.”

 

 

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