My respect and appreciation go to the Grand County Commission for unanimously voting to ask the Bureau of Land Management to reexamine proposed maps in the Labyrinth/Gemini Bridges Travel Management Area (TMA). This legally-required review of the TMA is the best opportunity we have to restore some balance between motorized and quiet, human-powered recreation. The maps originally proposed by the BLM do not go far enough to create quiet buffers around disruptive and redundant motorized routes, preserve the solitude of the Labyrinth River corridor, and ensure that the future of recreation in this area is sustainable for wildlife and public land resources.
While the Commission has recommended closing several motorized routes, they are not doing so to deny off-road enthusiasts’ use of this area. Rather, they recognize that the previous travel management plan was so skewed toward motorized recreation as to make it the default use of the area. The Commission, on behalf of the citizens of Grand County, is working to make land use more equitable.
When they voice their opposition to such efforts, motorized enthusiasts frequently say that everyone ought to have access to our public lands; these places are for everyone. They are absolutely right. Families hiking, joggers with dogs, beginner bikers, equestrians, and anyone seeking solitude have as much of a right to enjoy our red rock desert as those who drive motorized vehicles. Until the BLM has the resolve to close some roads, access and enjoyment of this area will continue to be unequal and unfair.
Sam Van Wetter
Field Organizer, Rural Utah Project