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Former President Carter in the hospital; bracing for an arctic blast; politics show up for Veterans Day; trade and politics impact Wisconsin farmers; and a clever dog learns to talk some.

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65 years ago today, the federal government shut down Ellis Island, and the Supreme Court hears landmark case DACA; plus, former MA Gov. Deval Patrick might enter the Democratic primary race.

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Groups Oppose Plan to Allow ATVs in Utah National Parks

The National Park Service plans to allow all-terrain vehicles, such as ATVs and UTVs, to travel  access roads and back roads in Utah parks beginning in November. (muro/AdobeStock)
The National Park Service plans to allow all-terrain vehicles, such as ATVs and UTVs, to travel access roads and back roads in Utah parks beginning in November. (muro/AdobeStock)
October 3, 2019

MOAB, Utah – The peace and quiet of the back roads in many of Utah's national parks soon could be interrupted by the roar of all-terrain vehicles.

Utah conservation groups say a recent memo from the National Park Service directed Utah park superintendents, starting in November, to allow the vehicles, known as ATVs or UTVs, to travel on the same access roads and back roads as cars, trucks and SUVs.

Neal Clark, wildlands program director for the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, says it's a very bad idea.

"Just a terribly short-sighted decision from the administration,” he states. “They're off-road vehicles. They're intended to be used off road and they're just completely contrary to the purpose of the parks and why people visit and cherish them."

The memo instructs the parks to follow a 2008 Utah law that allows the state's more than 200,000 licensed off-road vehicles to travel on state and county roads.

The Park Service says any vehicle traveling off the roads would be issued a citation. The new rule only applies to parks in Utah, but conservationists fear the changes eventually could spread to other states.

Clark says in his experience, if off-road vehicles are allowed in the park, many drivers would likely venture into prohibited areas despite the regulations.

He adds that park rangers chasing them down to issue a ticket would do additional damage to the park. And he says the decision will be a nightmare for park maintenance, wildlife and the environment.

"We've certainly seen UTV use in southern Utah rapidly increase over the years,” he states. “We see a correlated increase in illegal use and destruction of natural resources. There's certainly a correlated environmental impact when you unleash these machines."

Off-road vehicles were previously barred from most national parks in Utah, but after years of lobbying by off-road groups and lawmakers, the Park Service is changing its policy.

Clark says the change is being made without any notice or opportunity for public comment. He says his group and other organizations are considering legal action to stop the move.

Mark Richardson, Public News Service - UT