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Protecting BLM Roadless Areas
By the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) own calculation, there are currently approximately 3.7 million acres of BLM roadless areas in Utah. Add that to the 3.5 million acres of wilderness study areas in place from the agency’s original wilderness inventory, and the BLM has confirmed that upwards of 7million acres of public lands in Utah have wilderness character. That’s more than three-fourths of the acreage proposed as wilderness in America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act.
Unfortunately, little protective management is planned to accompany the administration’s acknowledgment that millions of wild, unspoiled acres in Utah possess wilderness values, along with other important resources such as wildlife and wildlife habitat, rare desert waterways, and irreplaceable archaeological remnants. The travel plans developed by the BLM during the agency’s most recent planning process perpetuate hundreds of miles of dirt tracks as off-road vehicle routes within BLM roadless areas. Even as the BLM has examined these lands and at long last found wilderness character, it proposes actions that would significantly impact these wilderness values — starting with the elimination of their very roadlessness.
SUWA and our many colleagues nationwide will continue to seek administrative protection of Utah’s roadless areas from ORV use and oil and gas leasing and development. At the same time, we will ask our growing list of congressional champions to act to protect these outstanding places.