Off Roading on the Grand Staircase?

Posted on: November 21st, 2008 by Jason Clement
1.7 million acres of "one of a kind." Photo courtesy of BLM.

Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument (Photo: BLM)

As preservationists, "one of a kind" is a language we live by. Unfortunately, it's not a language that everyone understands or even tries to learn.

Created in 1996 by President Bill Clinton, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument is a 1.7-million-acre expanse of resource-rich land that covers any road map of southern Utah almost entirely in green. Spanning eons of time, the Grand Staircase is a much-studied sequence of sedimentary rock (some formations ranging in age from 600 million to 2,000 million years) featuring multicolored cliffs, plateaus, mesas, buttes, pinnacles and canyons. Overall, over 4,000 cultural sites have been recorded within the monument, even though only 3% of the land has been surveyed.

Sound like a good place to go off roading? Believe it or not, it's happening.

This week, the National Trust’s Legal Defense Fund filed an amicus curiae ("friend of the court") brief in the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals in support of The Wilderness Society's successful challenge to Kane County's actions to open roads closed by the Bureau of Land Management (the agency that manages this unique monument) within the Monument. The lower court held that Kane County’s attempt to make decisions contrary to BLM's road decisions violated the Constitution. BLM closed numerous routes within the Monument to motor vehicles specifically to protect natural and cultural resources from the adverse effects of off roading.

Visit the Public Lands Initiative page to learn more and to download a copy of the brief, and stay tuned over the coming weeks as we continue to fight for what is truly "one of a kind" in southern Utah.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

Jason Clement

Jason Clement

Jason Lloyd Clement is the director of community outreach at the National Trust, which is really just a fancy way of saying he’s a professional place lover. For him, any day that involves a bike, a camera, and a gritty historic neighborhood is basically the best day ever.