Action Alert: Draft Plan For Moab Puts Wilderness Last

SUWA has now had a chance to take a close look at the newly released Moab Draft Resource Management Plan (DRMP) and the accompanying Travel Plan and Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS). And it doesn't look good.

The document is available for download on the BLM's Moab Field Office website: http://www.blm.gov/ut/st/en/fo/moab/planning.html 

Under the new proposed plan, wilderness landscapes will, in large part, become sacrifice zones for off-road vehicles. BLM proposes to designate 2,642 miles of ORV routes, many on lands within America's Red Rock Wilderness Act and which BLM previously recognized as wilderness-quality (i.e., are "roadless"). Damage from ORV use will be widespread, and peace and quiet will be extremely difficult to find as BLM's proposal will result in 84 percent of public lands near Moab (those south of I-70 which attract most of the area's visitors) being within 1/2 mile of a designated ORV route.

Labyrinth Canyon

    Labyrinth Canyon.
     Photo: Ray Bloxham

At the same time, BLM has done no site-specific studies to determine the impact of these routes on Native American cultural sites or other natural resources like riparian areas or wildlife habitat. Science to back up the ORV route designations does not exist.

The plan also fails to protect world-renowned scenic places from oil and gas development, including areas surrounding Arches and Canyonlands National Parks, Fisher Towers, Goldbar Rim and Labyrinth Canyon. In many other states, these areas would be protected as natural wonders; here, the BLM would turn them into oil fields. The flaws in the proposed plan would profoundly impact the future of this magnificent area and reflect the Bush administration’s single-minded focus on roads and development.

While the BLM has taken the better part of seven years to prepare the six plans for eastern Utah’s public lands, it expects the public to comment on each of them within a 90-day deadline. This would be unreasonable for any one of the plans, but the BLM will release versions of all six plans in the coming weeks, creating significant overlap between comment periods, confusion and overwork for anyone with a stake in these magnificent lands.

SUWA is calling on the BLM to extend the comment deadlines by at least another 180 days to allow for meaningful comment for each of the upcoming land use plans. It is a reasonable extension to provide the public a real chance to comment on the future of over 11 million acres of public lands. Further, the BLM must revise its plans to reduce the destructive and redundant web of off-road vehicle routes, with the resulting noise, fumes, and scars.

The Moab area, as with the rest of the state, should provide opportunities for traditional non-motorized use and provide ecological havens for the long-term health of the land, the wildlife, water and other natural and cultural resources.

Here's What You Can Do:

  • Tell the BLM not to stifle public input on the RMP process. Write to Governor Huntsman and State BLM Director Selma Sierra and ask them to extend the public comment period on the Moab and subsequent RMPs and planning documents by an additional 180 days at the minimum, to allow the public to provide meaningful comment for each of the upcoming land use plans. This is a reasonable extension to provide the public a realistic opportunity to comment on the future of of over 11 million acres of public lands. You can use SUWA's online Advocacy Center to send a message to the Governor and the BLM right now by clicking here.

Click here to view SUWA's Fact Sheet on the Moab RMP, as well as a photo gallery of areas threatened by the BLM's proposed management actions.

 

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