Since 1985, though, much has changed. Moab, with its hundreds of miles of slickrock trails, has become a mountain-biking mecca. In recent years, all-terrain vehicles have mushroomed in popularity, oil and gas drilling has boomed due to rising prices worldwide, and tourism has become the economic mainstay of the area.
And the BLM has come up with a new management plan.
To be exact, the agency has drawn up four alternatives, including the status quo, its own preferred plan, another that protects additional land from multiple use and one that opens up more areas to motorized recreation and energy development.
The plan that is adopted will be a far-reaching set of regulations that will profoundly affect this area for decades. The BLM is asking for public comment on the four alternatives until Nov. 30, and we encourage all Utahns to study it and voice their opinions.
The approved plan will guide much of what happens on the 1.8 million acres of public lands bounded by the Book Cliffs on the north, the Utah-Colorado state line to the east, Harts Point and Lisbon Valley to the south and the Green River to the west. The area includes the Colorado River, the Dolores River and the Green River, Arches National Park, Dead Horse Point State Park and the La Sal Mountains of the Manti-La Sal National Forest.
The agency says its preferred plan would balance its goals: to protect natural resources such as wildlife, water, plants and scenic vistas; allow grazing and development of energy; and offer recreation opportunities for all kinds of activities, from hiking, camping and biking to river running, rock climbing and ATV riding.
It would sanction more than 2,500 miles of ATV trails and more than two dozen new areas for oil and gas drilling. It would also put 120 miles of river under the Wild and Scenic Rivers designation, a first for Utah.
All the details are available at http://www.blm.gov/ut/st/en/prog/planning.1.html where comments can be left electronically. The public may also mail comments to the BLM Moab Field Office, 82 East Dogwood, Moab, UT 84532, or e-mail UT Moab Comments@blm.gov, or call 435-259-2100.
Copies of the plans and Environmental Impact Statement can be seen at the Grand and San Juan county libraries, the Salt Lake City Public Library, the Mesa County Library and the University of Utah Library, at the Moab, Monticello and Grand Junction BLM offices and the BLM state office in Salt Lake City.