Access to Kane Creek Canyon, along with many other trails in the Moab-La Sal network, woul
National Park Service: The National Park Service (NPS) released proposed changes to its management policies that regulate OHV use within the park system. The management policies serve as a virtual handbook for park superintendents and other park officials. The proposed language closely mirrors existing policies in stating: "Routes and areas may be designated for off-road motor vehicle use by special regulation within national recreation areas, national seashores, national lakeshores, and national preserves, and then only when determined to be an appropriate use. Consistent with the executive orders and the Organic Act, park managers must immediately close a designated off-road vehicle route whenever the use is causing or will cause unacceptable impacts." Eight National Parks have park-specific OHV regulations. There are an additional six parks that are developing regulations including Cape Hatteras National Seashore and Glen Canyon National Recreation Area.
RS 2477: Rights-of-Way Claims: In 2003, the Interior Department initiated a policy to make it easier for states and counties to claim rights of way on thousands of dirt roads that run across federal lands, most of which were created between 1866 and 1976 when federal mining laws encouraged Western settlement. At issue is whether state and local governments, and the OHV community, will pursue huge numbers of public rights-of-way claims to these old trails that can be maintained as dirt-bike trails or OHV roads, or even converted into paved roads. One important element of this issue is that where roads are protected, areas will be ineligible for designation as wilderness.
Utah has been the main battleground for RS 2477 claims. For example, actions have been pursued for roads in Daggett County and the 8-mile Salt Creek Trail within Canyonlands National Park. The law remains murky at this time, with many conflicting applications of state and federal laws, and various court rulings. In the most recent action, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th District ruled against Kane County officials seeking to assert RS 2477 rights for roads in the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness, Moquith Mountain Wilderness Study Area, and Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. The Court ruled in August 2009 that the Federal government had jurisdiction over the lands.
U.S. Forest Service: The U.S. Forest Service has a fairly new set of regulations for OHV use in National Forests and Grasslands. The need for reasonable management stems from the fact that off-road activity has risen from 5 million riders in 1972 to 36 million in 2000. Under the new policy (issued in 2005), the Forest Service is required to formally designate a system of roads, trails and areas where motorized vehicle use would be allowed. Local agency officials are required to seek public comments from state and local officials and other stakeholders in determining routes open to OHV use. The new rule will provide for increased involvement from the OHV community in the designation process. The Forest Service will also consider "user-created" routes in the review process. Many of these routes came into existence during "open" management, serve a legitimate purpose, and do not pose an environmental threat. The Forest Service is also updating its official maps since many existing roads and trails do not appear in the official inventory, and the agency anticipates that it will at least four years to complete the route designation process.
Forest Service "Roadless Rule": In 2001, the Forest Service under the Clinton administration issued a rule to stop construction of roads in 58.5 million acres of potential wilderness lands under its control. When first issued, the so-called "Roadless Rule" affected 31 percent of the total Forest Service land base. Forest Service roads provide access for the timber and mining industries along with a variety of recreational activities, such as sightseeing, fishing, hunting, and off-road vehicle use; roads formerly used for mining and/or timber harvesting may eventually be converted into recreational roads. The Bush administration modified the Rule to permit local forest managers more input on access issues and to provide state Governors with an opportunity to request exemptions from the Rule.
The Roadless Rule has been the subject to nearly endless challenges and litigation, and the ensuing years have seen conflicting court rulings overturning both the Clinton and Bush rulemakings. The conflicting opinions are working their way through the federal Appeals Court system and could eventually be presented to the Supreme Court.