Off-Road Access to be Expanded in Glen Canyon

Jan 29, 2014

The National Park Service has proposed adding more than a dozen areas for off-highway vehicle use within the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. As Arizona Public Radio’s Ryan Heinsius reports, the plan is designed to halt illegal off roading. However, conservation groups aren’t happy.

Glen Canyon

In 2008, the Park Service agreed to crack down on illegal off-highway vehicle use in the Glen Canyon Area and several other Southwestern parks. According to the Arizona Daily Sun, the move came as a result of a lawsuit brought by three conservation groups.

The Park Service’s resulting environmental impact statement includes five options for handling OHV use in the million-acre Glen Canyon Area around Lake Powell. The Park Service’s preferred alternative would make 17 locations usable to OHV riders. Park officials say the plan increases off-road access in high-use areas and adds speed limits, quiet hours, noise restrictions and new signage. A spokesman for the Park Service also said the proposal will attract a wider range of park users.

But, conservation groups describe the Park Service’s preferred alternative as potentially harmful to the area. The National Parks Conservation Association and the National Wildlands Council claim that expanding OHV use would further expose the sensitive desert environment to damage and animal-disturbing noise. They also claim OHV riders currently use more than 400 roads in the Glen Canyon Area without being monitored by the Park Service.

The public will be able to review and comment on the plan on the National Park Service’s website until March 4.