Nine years after Recapture Canyon is closed, BLM seeks public comment on proposed trail system
Sep 14, 2016 | 5833 views | 0 0 comments | 222 222 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Nine years after portions of Recapture Canyon were closed to motorized traffic, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is considering a variety of options for the canyon.

The BLM Monticello Field Office is seeking public comment on the proposed trail system for Recapture Canyon near Blanding. They are considering six options.

The BLM project responds to a San Juan County application for a right-of-way that would provide additional off-road, motorized travel opportunities in the Recapture Canyon area.

The public comment period will be open for 45 days and comments can be submitted online. Public hearings are not scheduled at this time.

The canyon is the focus of longstanding frustration between local residents and the federal agency. The canyon was closed to motorized traffic in 2007, after two local residents worked on an unathorized trail through the bottom of the canyon. They were fined $35,000.

San Juan County submitted a proposal to allow motorized traffic in the canyon. The proposal was amended several times.

After several years of little or no progress on the proposal, frustration boiled over. In May, 2012, a public protest over the BLM policies included an ATV ride into closed areas of the canyon.

San Juan County Commissioner Phil Lyman and Monticello resident Monte Wells were found guilty of organizing the protest. They were fined nearly $100,000 and sent to federal prison for brief sentences.

The six alternatives include a range of recreational opportunities, including hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, dispersed camping, and off-highway vehicle use. 

The alternatives also evaluate the potential impacts to cultural resources and riparian habitat from these proposed uses.

One alternative analyzes a San Juan County proposal to create an 11.67 mile trail system designated for ATV use.  Trails would also be open for hiking, biking, and equestrian use. 

Another alternative considers a 13.75 mile mixed-use trail system for motorized and non-motorized use, but does not include the County request for a motorized trail in the bottom of Recapture Canyon. 

A third alternative looks at designating 7.5 miles of proposed motorized trail solely on the upland mesa area west of Recapture Canyon. 

Some alternatives examine issuing a right of way to San Juan County, while others consider giving the BLM the responsibility for constructing, maintaining and monitoring trails. 

The Environmental Assessment (EA), including all six alternatives, can be reviewed online using the BLM ePlanning website to access the draft assessment.

“This EA provides a robust range of alternatives for the public to consider,” said Jenna Whitlock, BLM-Utah Acting State Director.  “Public input will help the BLM determine the best way to manage recreation in the Recapture Canyon area while also protecting the extraordinary cultural resources and important riparian habitat found there.” 

Public participation and comments are essential to the BLM decision-making process.  Comments will be accepted throughout the 45-day public comment period, which ends October 24, 2016.  

Comments may also be submitted electronically through the ePlanning website, or submitted by mail to the BLM Monticello Field Office at Bureau of Land Management, Monticello Field Office, Attn: Recreation Program (Recapture ROW), P.O. Box 7, Monticello, UT 84535.

To submit comments electronically, open the project ePlanning webpage and click on “Documents” in the left hand menu.  Select the “Comment on Document” button to provide a comment. 

For more information, call Don Hoffheins, Monticello Field Manager, at 435-587-1500. 
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