Letter: Riparian corridors, including side canyons entering the Green River network in Labyrinth Canyon, ought to be nonmotorized

(Ray Bloxham | Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance) Goldbar Canyon outside Moab is among the places Grand County officials would like to see motorized access restricted under a travel plan the BLM is developing for the Labyrinth Rims/Gemini Bridges area — one of 11 in the pipeline for Utah’s public lands.

I am distressed by the Bureau of Land Management’s reluctance to embrace a well-considered and balanced position regarding its Labyrinth Canyon / Gemini Bridges Travel Plan. Though the formal deadline for public comment has passed, now is an excellent time for the BLM to determine the fate of an area so heavily traversed by ORVs.

Why? Because the BLM’s preferred alternative and subsequent route density is unsustainable. Grand County officials on the other hand have taken a position – one I believe has the support of local, reasonable recreationalists – that it’s time to reduce the number and mileage of routes by at least 22 percent.

The riparian corridors, including side canyons entering the Green River network in Labyrinth Canyon, ought to be nonmotorized. It’s not an exaggeration to point out that ORVs have a deleterious impact on the fauna and flora that need to survive in their high desert environment. And besides, one look at any of the maps under consideration reveals the redundancy and overlap created by users, not a systematic planning effort that’s designed to protect natural resources. BLM can and must do better.

With the increasing impacts of drought and climate change throughout redrock country, it’s more important than ever to protect the natural quiet, wildlife habit and cultural sites from the onslaught of

motorized vehicles. I urge the agency to break through its self-imposed, old-think boundaries and come up with reasonable route solutions that will let natural systems recover and even give us humans a bit more peace and quiet in the backcountry.

Ken Kraus, Salt Lake City

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