** Nov. 18 update: The law was scrapped by the National Park Service one week before going into effect. ATV’s are still banned from National Parks.**
The City of Moab, Town of Castle Valley and Grand County held an emergency meeting in October to oppose a sudden rule change that allows off-road vehicles to drive on National Park roads in Utah.
ATVs (all-terrain vehicles, often used for racing), UTVs (utility task vehicles, designed for rougher terrain) and OHVs (off-highway vehicles, including offroad motorcycles and snowmobiles) have been banned from National Parks since 1972 when President Nixon issued an executive order on off-road vehicle use. However, a state law passed in 2008 allows “street legal” ATVs to use state and county roads.
In crowded national parks, off-road vehicles are problematic because of noise, air quality, soil erosion, visitor experience and visitor safety.
Unlike ordinary cars and trucks, they are specifically designed to drive off of constructed roads. In lightly patrolled backcountry areas they are nearly impossible to monitor.
The White Rim Trail in Canyonlands and Salt Valley Road in Arches are particularly vulnerable to impacts from the rule change. The resolution opposing the rule states, “NPS, in directing Superintendents to allow this new use in the Southeast Utah Group without the proper compliance and environmental review including public input, has violated its own policies, undermined this important and successful process, and created controversy where there is currently no controversy.”
The rule change was requested by off-road vehicle groups working with Utah legislator Phil Lyman (R-73), a former San Juan County Commissioner who was convicted of misdemeanor for leading anti-federal militants on an illegal ATV ride in Recapture Canyon in 2014.
This is an excerpt from our November EnviroNews column. View the full article here.