Glen Canyon National Recreation Area's Draft ORV Plan Ready For Your Review

Glen Canyon National Recreation Area often conjures watery visions of touring Lake Powell, but there's a dryland component to the park, too, and NRA officials are working on developing a management plan for off-road vehicles.

This matter has been percolating for some time. Back in 2010 we told you about the stirring of efforts to develop a management plan for ORVers at Glen Canyon. Off-road vehicles can be both a boon and a bane to backcountry travel. They can help you get all your gear to remote places, but irresponsible drivers can tear up the backcountry at the same time.

Any effort at regulating ORV traffic at the national recreation area in southern Utah likely will not come without some controversy. Utah is fairly heavily pro-ORV, and there have been many instances of landscape damage inflicted by some ORVs. County officials in the southern half of the state are particularly pro-ORV and don't like federal officials to tell them where ORVs can and can't be allowed.

The current draft plan is now available for review. It analyzes a range of alternatives and actions for managing off-road use of motor vehicles and on-road use of off-highway vehicles and street-legal all-terrain vehicles. The plan assesses the environmental impacts that could result from continuing current management (the no-action alternative) or implementing any of the four action alternatives.

“I hope that all those who are interested in the management of motorized vehicles at Glen Canyon will review this draft and provide comments," said Glen Canyon Superintendent Todd Brindle in a prepared release.

You can download a copy of the plan at this site, and leave your comments there, as well.

Written comments may also be submitted to: Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, ORV Plan/DEIS, PO Box 1507, Page, AZ 86040-1507 or delivered to Glen Canyon headquarters at 691 Scenic View Drive, Page, Arizona.

Comments must be received or postmarked no later than March 4. Printed copies of the Plan/DEIS will be available at some local libraries (Page, Blanding, Escalante and Kanab). Additional assistance in obtaining a copy of the Plan/DEIS can be requested by contacting Glen Canyon at (928) 608-6209.

Five alternatives are analyzed.

* Alternative A, the "no-action" alternative, represents the continuation of existing management policies and action related to the use of ORVs in Glen Canyon and represents “no change” from the current level of management direction and level of management intensity.

* Alternative B, the environmentally preferred alternative, does not designate any ORV routes or areas and would allow motorized vehicle use only on existing park roads.

* Alternative C would expand recreational opportunities by increasing the number of ORV routes and areas as well as the types of vehicles that would be allowed on park roads.

* Alternative D would limit the number of ORV routes and areas and prohibit the operation of OHVs and ATVs throughout Glen Canyon.

* Alternative E, the NPS preferred alternative, designates a mixture of opportunities for motorized recreation on park roads and designated ORV routes and at remote shoreline areas while prohibiting such uses in areas where resource values may be at risk.

All action alternatives include provisions to improve signs and road/route markings, develop a communication strategy to better educate visitors on regulations and resource concerns, and to close and restore routes and areas not designated for off-road use.

In alternatives that would provide for off-road use, management and mitigation strategies are outlined to address the impacts from off-road use. This would include implementation of a permit system to provide for education on applicable regulations, provide for visitor safety, prevent resource damage and recover costs for monitoring, mitigation, education and administration of the permit system.

A final plan is expected to be ready for public review late this year.

Glen Canyon will hold an Open House to provide an opportunity for the public to find out more about the Plan/DEIS and the alternatives on Tuesday, February 12, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area Headquarters, located at 691 Scenic View Drive in Page, Arizona. NPS staff will make a short presentation at 4:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. Additional open houses are planned in Blanding, Escalante, Kanab and Salt Lake City, Utah. You can find information on dates for those meetings at this site.