RS2477 ‘Roads’ Threaten Labyrinth Canyon
View and photograph RS2477 'roads' in Labyrinth Canyon to illustrate that these roads are predominately just dirt paths and their qualification as roads negatively affects the ability to protect public lands in Utah.
Our overflight examined Labyrinth Canyon, an ecologically important desert landscape with towering hoodoos, spires, and the beloved Green River which flows through red-orange walls of sandstone and offers renowned rafting opportunities.
From the air, we also spotted a few user-created roads in Labyrinth Canyon. Some of these roads lead to historic mining claims, ranches, stock tanks, or campsites; others were created from people driving off-road through the desert. These non-sanctioned roads are used to fuel anti-conservation decisions. According to the state of Utah's interpretation of Revised Statute 2477 which is an 1866 Mining Law, these dirt routes are actually considered highways that can be paved, widened, or "improved". This rule has been appealed, but "highways" constructed prior to 1976 were grandfathered in. RS 2477 highways, which overwhelmingly resemble dirt paths, pose huge threats to the fragile desert ecosystem and the ability to adequately preserve public lands that contain these dirt roads, including preventing proposed wilderness areas from being designated. SUWA is dedicated to protecting Utah's Wilderness and is providing legal defense against thousands of RS 2477 claims in court.
EcoFlight works with SUWA and other conservation groups to protect more than 8 million acres of public lands in Utah as Wilderness, including the iconic Labyrinth Canyon. The proposed America's Red Rock Wilderness Act (ARRWA) will conserve vast swaths of desert and create wildlife habitat connectivity that will extend as far as the largely pristine ecosystems of the Grand Canyon to Glacier National Park. The ARRWA is considered one of the most critical actions we can take to mitigate climate change - these lands and plants store an estimated 247 million metric tons of organic carbon. Preserving those storages, along with the prevention of future oil and gas development, could reduce atmospheric carbon up to 30 million metric tons by the end of the century. Native American Tribes have long advocated for this protection to help preserve their sacred and significant cultural landscapes and resources. From above, it is abundantly clear how worthy this special place is of permanent protection, despite small user-created roads.
We are pleased to provide you with these geo-referenced photos from the flight