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Court Upholds Vehicle Curbs at Park's Salt Creek Canyon

PHOTO: A court ruling ensures that motorized vehicle use will continue to be restricted at Salt Creek Canyon in Canyonlands National Park. Photo courtesy Utah Office of Tourism.
PHOTO: A court ruling ensures that motorized vehicle use will continue to be restricted at Salt Creek Canyon in Canyonlands National Park. Photo courtesy Utah Office of Tourism.
April 29, 2014

SALT LAKE CITY - A recent court ruling will ensure that motorized vehicle use will continue to be restricted at Salt Creek Canyon in Canyonlands National Park. Attorney Stephen Bloch with the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance says the U.S. Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals rejected arguments by San Juan County and the state of Utah that Salt Creek Canyon is a state highway.

"This is a significant decision that's going to mean real protection for one of the crown jewels of Canyonlands National Park," he declared.

Bloch says the state and its counties are pursuing more than 20 similar cases, claiming that thousands of miles of dirt trails and cow paths are state highways. He says the state claims it wants the highway designation to allow vehicle use to increase tourism, but adds that vehicle use would also be required for mining and oil and gas development on public lands.

Bloch says this case is part of a bigger agenda of some lawmakers at the county and state level who want the state to control federal lands.

"You have Utah politicians, other Western politicians, who are looking for any opportunity to wrest away public control of federally-managed lands, and hand it over to state and local authorities," the lawyer said.

Bloch says the court ruling on Salt Creek Canyon sets an important legal precedent favoring the preservation of critical public lands as the state tries to gain more control of federal lands in Utah.

Troy Wilde, Public News Service - UT