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Utah Travel Headlines Blog

Monday, January 28, 2008

Battle Brewing Over Roads into Wilderness

The Salt Lake Tribune has this interesting article about state efforts to keep some roads open for energy development and recreational use.

According to the article, the State of Utah is attempting to gain control over some roads that cross federal lands. The initial effort involves well-established "Class B" roads that are not controversial. If successful, the effort may be expanded to involve some "Class D" roads, and may become highly controversial.

The effort could impact the battle to expand the amount of federally protected wilderness in Utah. As a general rule, new land designated as wilderness cannot have existing roads. The fight centers on the definition of a road. Class D roads could potentially include recognizable two-tracks, meandering livestock paths, abandoned pathways oil and gas drillers once used for seismic exploration and even narrow trails across creeks, according to the article.

Proponents say the state needs to control some such routes to ensure access to recreation areas and areas holding the potential for energy development.

Those opposed to the action fear it could be used to block protection of pristine areas that deserve wilderness status.

The issues are complex and the battle has been raging for decades. Public comments will play a role in its ultimate resolution. We encourage people to learn about the issues and voice their opinions.

Read the complete article.

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