Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Off-Roaders' Dream or Environmental Nightmare?

Off-highway vehicle (OHV) use on public land is the issue this week in a Salt Lake courtroom. On Tuesday, the first of six Resource Management Plans by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) will come under fire from conservation groups. It is a battle that started in 2008, when they first challenged the Richfield Resource Management Plan (RMP) for south central Utah. Attorney Steve Bloch with the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance (SUWA), said his group believes the plan puts too much emphasis on off-roading and oil and gas development in areas that deserve greater protection. "What we're seeking at this hearing on Tuesday is to bring some balance back to how the public lands are managed," Bloch said. "It's our position that designating more than 4,200 miles of dirt roads and trails, in this office alone, is not a balanced decision." Supporters of keeping the Richfield RMP as it is have pointed out that it resulted from six years of input and is a compromise plan, so none of the parties involved got exactly what they wanted. The conservation groups' challenge has languished in Washington, D.C., for the past few years until being reassigned to the federal district court in Salt Lake City, where oral arguments will be heard on Tuesday...more

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