The planned ATV "showdown ride" in Recapture Canyon, San Juan County, Utah, is designed to force the Bureau of Land Management to give after-the-fact approval to a trail that was illegally constructed through an archaeologically rich area.
Several thousand miles of ATV routes are already open to the public in southeastern Utah, so this appears to be more about challenging the BLM’s mandate to manage public lands on behalf of all Americans than about adding another 11 miles of trail.
Back in 1906, President Theodore Roosevelt signed the Antiquities Act, which among other things explicitly protected archaeological sites on the public lands. This was in response to widespread looting and destruction of sites in the Southwest, including southeastern Utah.
That part of the 1906 act has been superseded by more recent and stronger laws, but the point still holds. It is in the national interest to protect these sites. The illegal Recapture trail-building significantly damaged several archaeological sites. If the BLM now legitimizes the trail, it opens the door to a flood of other illegal preemptions with predictably destructive results.
Deborah Gangloff President, Crow Canyon Archaeological Center Bill Lipe Crow Canyon board member and former president of the Society for AmericanArchaeology
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