The Bureau of Land Management has decided not to allow motorized use through the bottom of Recapture Canyon near Blanding, Utah, but to create some seven miles of trail along the rim where ATVs and even full-size vehicles could travel.
In a decision issued Monday, Monticello Field Office Manager Donald Hoffheins said the planned mixed trail system “balances competing interests and provides a wide range of recreational opportunities while lessening potential impacts on cultural and natural resources.” A seven-mile portion of Recapture Canyon was closed in 2007 after damage to archaeological sites and the construction of an illegal ATV route through the fragile area. The lengthy closure generated controversy and prompted San Juan County Commissioner Phil Lyman to organize a motorized protest ride through the canyon in 2014. He and one other man were convicted of two misdemeanors for violating the closure. The county had asked to be given a right-of-way throughout the canyon, but the BLM rejected that request. Instead, the decision encourages the county to partner with the BLM to build and maintain the trail system. In a statement, new Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said, “Allowing ATVs and other vehicles in Recapture Canyon will open up opportunities for people to enjoy our public lands.”