BLM approves closure of 317 miles of off-road routes in Moab, Utah

BLM Bans Off-Roaders (

Controversial decision in response to lawsuit for improved land management.

In a controversial move, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has given the green light to closing off 317 miles of off-highway vehicle (OHV) routes in Moab, Utah. These route closures encompass popular areas such as Labyrinth Canyon, the Gemini Bridges region, and routes used during the annual Easter Jeep Safari, a showcase event for off-road enthusiasts. This decision has sparked a significant backlash from off-roaders and Jeep Wrangler owners who frequent the area.

The catalyst for this drastic decision can be traced back to a lawsuit filed by the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance (SUWA) against the federal government. SUWA alleged that the government had failed to adequately manage access to federal lands, leading to damage to sensitive ecosystems and wildlife habitats.

Laura Peterson, a staff attorney with SUWA, highlighted the environmental benefits of these closures, stating, “Visitors will finally be able to experience stunning Labyrinth Canyon without the noise, dust, and damage that accompanies motorized recreation. For too long, the BLM has prioritized off-road vehicle use at the expense of Utah’s incredible natural and cultural resources. The Labyrinth Canyon plan represents an important step forward to guide the management of Utah’s public lands and reduce the impacts of off-road vehicle routes in this area.”

The affected region spans over 300,000 acres and currently offers just over 1,000 miles of OHV roads. With the closure of these routes, approximately one-third of off-roading options in the Moab area will be eliminated.

These route closures have already come into effect, leaving enthusiasts who had planned trips to the region in a state of uncertainty.

While it’s important to address environmental concerns and prevent the misuse of public lands, the blanket closure of off-road routes affects a broad community of off-roaders, including those who follow responsible practices. Targeted solutions that hold individuals accountable for their actions and promote responsible off-roading could be a more balanced approach, ensuring that innocent parties and local economies dependent on tourism are not unduly impacted. Responsible off-roaders understand the importance of treading lightly and leaving nature untouched, and a more nuanced approach may better address the issue of misuse while preserving access for the majority who respect the environment and the land.