Castle Country OHV Association
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The Factory Butte area in southeastern Utah has been an OHV destination for locals and tourists for many generations. In 2001, the Richfield Field Office of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) announced that they would be producing a new Resource Management Plan (RMP) that would define motorized recreation opportunities in the area.
Immediately, the affected counties and USA-ALL began attempting to work with the BLM on this new RMP by proposing proactive solutions to OHV management problems in the area. However, the BLM followed a course of action eerily similar to a proposal made by Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance (SUWA).
In September 2006, the BLM issued an "emergency" travel restriction order that closed cross-country travel to over 145,000 acres around Factory Butte. This area is uniquely suited for cross-country OHV recreation. The Mancos Shale terrain and limited plant life make this "moonscape" ideal for motorcycle and ATV users. But the BLM has used two endangered species of cactus to justify the "emergency" closure. However, their own data indicates that the population of these cacti has increased over recent years. This would seem contrary to the reason for the "emergency" closure.
In March 2007, USA-ALL filed a lawsuit against the BLM in cooperation with Wayne County, Garfield County, the city of Hanksville, and several affected businesses and individuals. The suit forced the BLM to postpone plans to make “improvements” to the area by building miles of fence and installing toilets and information kiosks. These “improvements” were intended to turn Factory Butte into a “drive-by” scenic view area as opposed to a destination for OHV recreation.
The suit was filed with nine original “causes of action” that attacked the BLM’s attempts to institute the closure and remove the public from the decision making process. Of these nine points, the first eight were dismissed in July 2007 by the judge presiding over the case. The reason given for the dismissal had nothing to do with the merit of the claims, but was based solely on the timing of the suit. The judge concluded that the first eight points were made prematurely since the BLM had not yet made a “final” decision and published its environmental assessment and environmental impact statements regarding the changes in travel management. The ninth and final point claims that the “emergency” closure was invalid and should be immediately reversed. This portion of the suit is still active and pending further action in the federal court system.
Since the original suit was filed, USA-ALL and the involved plaintiffs have committed considerable financial resources to the case, and there is still a long way to go. Help USA-ALL continue the fight for Factory Butte! Click here to make a donation today! We can’t protect your access without your financial support.
Click here to learn about the other issues USA-ALL is currently working on.
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Jun 19, 2013 22:17:08