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ORV Activists Organize Illegal Ride Up Paria River
On May 9th, roughly 300 off-road vehicle (ORV) activists took part in an illegal ride up the Paria River to protest enforcement of the riverbed's closure to motorized vehicles. The canyon lies within the Paria-Hackberry Wilderness Study Area in the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and has been closed to ORV use by the Utah Bureau of Land Management (BLM) since the year 2000. Unfortunately, the BLM never enforced the ORV restriction, relying instead on voluntary compliance, even though the agency had documented that "motorized vehicle travel and associated impacts were increasing significantly" in the Paria River and side canyons. As a result, ORV users have been traveling up the riverbed for years, claiming this scenic wilderness as an R.S. 2477 “highway” and 4-wheeler playground.
Counter-demonstrators also showed up at the scene, proclaiming local support for the monument and calling for protection of the river -- which the BLM has found suitable for Wild and Scenic River designation.