Thursday, March 16, 2017

Bears Ears designation upends proposed ATV trail in San Juan County

The new Bears Ears National Monument is already impacting land use in the region after a judge said an 12-year-old proposal to build an off-road trail is contrary to the presidential proclamation. A judge with the Interior Board of Land Appeals ruled this week that no work can begin on the 6.4 mile ATV loop the Bureau of Land Management approved for the Indian Creek area until an appeal brought by environmental groups is settled. The loop, sought by San Juan County since 2005, was approved by the BLM in December, just a little under two weeks before then-President Barack Obama made the 1.35 million-acre monument designation in southeast Utah. Judge Silvia M. Riechel noted the proclamation states that any additional roads or trails designated for motorized use are restricted to those necessary for public safety or protection of objects covered by the proclamation. Even though the BLM approved the trail prior to the monument designation, Riechel said the agency's decision was not yet in effect because of an automatic 30-day appeal period. "This is an exciting victory for wilderness, and is the first time an administrative body or court has addressed the legal effect of the Bears Ears National Monument proclamation, which calls for careful consideration and analysis when managing the spectacular and irreplaceable resources within its boundaries," wrote Kya Marienfeld in a blog posted by the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance...more

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