Sign Up  |   Log In:Login with Facebook
REI Community
ATV's in the Desert = Bad Idea
Submitted By: Michael Komarnitsky on Jun 23, 2003

Add Comment
Yikes. Just heard about this. One of the new proposed off-road trails, due to be ridden by hundreds of ATV riders, circles Bridger Jack Mesa. Hundreds more ATVs will go to Texas Tower. Unbelievable. I'm sick of hearing about this kind of shit. Please forward to anyone else, amd
email/write comments to the address at the bottom.


The BLM has released an environmental assessment (EA) draft "finding of no
significant impact" for a "proposed" three-day, 350 ATV event on BLM and
Forest Service managed lands throughout San Juan County, Utah this September
25-27. The EA can be viewed at
(See for photos and the press release).

Currently, the EA lacks consideration of an alternative that would disallow
proposed routes through inventoried wilderness and other sensitive lands.
This is the first example of the kind of wilderness attack for which the
collusive agreement between Governor Leavitt and the Interior Dept. has
paved the way, as some of the routes traverse areas whose pristine
wilderness qualities stood to be protected from ORVs and other development
until the April 11th settlement, including: Jacob's Chair-- the route would
bisect an area that the BLM found to have wilderness character in 1999; and
Bridger Jack--ATVs would loop through another BLM inventory unit on a route
illegally bulldozed by San Juan County (rather than pursuing a trespass
violation against the County, the agency is rewarding the illegal action by
now permitting an ATV event on the same route)!

Other proposed routes fall within the Cedar Mesa Area of Critical
Environmental Concern (ACEC), the Scenic Highway Corridor ACEC, citizen
proposed wilderness, and other lands rich in archaeological sites and
wildlife habitat. These include John's Canyon (located within the Cedar
Mesa ACEC), Piute Pass (within the Scenic Highway Corridor ACEC). The
routes proposed in Arch Canyon (also in Cedar Mesa ACEC) and Indian Creek
(near Canyonlands National Park; proponents call the route "Falls Missile),
lie in ecologically fragile streambeds with lush riparian vegetation, a
violation of BLM policy to protect- not damage rare riparian areas. Each
rider would crash through Arch Canyon creek over 100 times during their
trip-- a total of 1,700 crossings per group.

Sections of proposed routes that conflict with proposed wilderness lands in
National Forest must not be permitted, including the "White Rim" section of
the North Long Point route, and portions of the Shady Ridge route.

Proponents of the event hope that it will follow the pattern of the Moab
Jeep Safari--which we all know has expanded into an often uncontrollable
event. In 1979, the Moab Jeep Safari consisted of 10 trails with 400
vehicles participating in a one day event. Now, the Jeep Safari extends
over 9 days on thirty trails with over 1,700 registered participants, and an
additional 4,000 ORV riders who take to the trails without a permit.

Simply put, ORV events like the one proposed have proven to be unmanageable,
damaging to public lands, and dangerous to participants, community members,
and other public land users. Prior to even thinking about approving a large
scope, problem-laden event like the proposed San Juan ATV Safari, the BLM
must prepare an environmental impact statement (EIS) based on the following:

  • *All "routes" must be analyzed for conflict with other resources and
resource users, including wilderness, primitive recreation, wildlife, soils,
vegetation, water/riparian and cultural sites. Any routes found to be in
conflict with such resource values must not be permitted.

  • *The EIS must analyze the direct, indirect, cumulative, and reasonably
foreseeable impacts of the proposal. Indeed, no permit should be considered
until a full-scale travel plan is completed in the EIS prepared in
conjunction with the San Juan Area Resource Management Plan amendments.

  • *All proposed "routes" and potentially affected areas must be
field-inventoried for archaeological, paleontological, vegetative, and
wildlife resources, including endangered species.

  • *Wilderness character of all potentially affected lands must be inventoried
and evaluated.

  • *Any permit issued following completion of a full EIS must include a
monitoring plan and stipulations designed to prevent undue damage to
resources. Such monitoring must occur and stipulations must be enforced! A
bond sufficient to cover any damage to public land resources must be
required, and a reclamation plan must be submitted and analyzed.

Please send in comments requiring the BLM to adhere to their own regulations
outlined above and to reconsider issuing a permit for the San Juan ATV
Safari for the reasons listed above.

======== Comments are due JULY 9, 2003 ==============

Please address letters to:

Patrick Madigan
Monticello Field Office Manager
P.O. Box 7
Monticello, UT 84535
Fax (435) 587-1518

Comments on ATV's in the Desert = Bad Idea Add Comment
- none yet -

The Definitive
Climbing Resource

Inspiration & Motivation
to Fuel Your Run

Next Generation Mountain
Bike Trail Maps

Backcountry, Sidecountry
& Secret Stashes

Better Data. Better Tools.
Better Hikes!