BLM action in Utah spurs debate on off-highway driving

By Scott Streater | 06/07/2024 01:42 PM EDT

A draft plan released by the Bureau of Land Management this week offers a range of alternatives on access to federal rangelands.

The San Rafael Swell in Utah.

The San Rafael Swell in Utah. E. Pablo Kosmicki/AP

The ongoing debate over off-highway vehicle use on sensitive federal rangelands is once again in the spotlight in Utah.

There, the Bureau of Land Management is continuing to revise travel management plans as part of a legal settlement with environmentalists.

At issue is a draft plan BLM released this week that proposes four options, all of which would leave open more than 1,000 miles of off-highway vehicle, or OHV, trails across a massive 1.1 million-acre planning area in eastern Utah.


The most restrictive of the four alternatives analyzed in the draft environmental assessment would remove 235 miles of existing OHV trails and limit access on another 82 miles within the area known as the San Rafael Swell, renowned for its red rock cliffs and slot canyons that are popular with hikers and campers.