Utah – Off Road Vehicles (ORV)

State: Utah
Region: Near Hanksville, Utah

ORV use in Utah’s waterways and streambeds is especially harmful. These areas (referred to as “riparian areas” by the BLM) make up just 1% of Utah’s public lands, yet support over 80% of wildlife species.  ORV use increases sedimentation, destroys healthy stream banks and vegetation, increases water temperatures and lowers the water table, threatening fish and other stream life, plants and valuable wildlife habitat.

In addition, federal agency research concludes that ORV use exacerbates the effects of climate change on the Colorado Plateau by eroding soils and contributing to the large dust storms that blanket Colorado’s mountains with dust resulting in earlier and faster snow melt, degrading water supplies, and spreading invasive weeds that increase the risk of wildfires.

The Factory Butte mancos-shale badlands where these photos are taken is a very popular ORV recreation site.  There are endangered cacti here that have been somewhat protected under the new recreation plan, but 220 miles of this desert is still open to motorized users. The tracks created by these ORV will be forever embedded in this arid landscape.

On May 27, in a major victory for the Greater Canyonlands region, a federal judge ruled against San Juan County and the State of Utah in their bid to open an off-road vehicle (ORV) route in Salt Creek Canyon in Canyonlands National Park. The route was closed over a decade ago to protect wildlife habitat and stop engine oil and grease from polluting the stream.