The Bureau of Land Management-Utah Canyon Country Field Office is seeking public comment on proposed supplementary rules for conduct on public lands in the Moab and Monticello field offices, which include camping and campfire restrictions, and human-waste management guidelines.
BLM-Moab assistant field office manager Lisa Bryant said the rule changes are not likely to affect most visitors.
“There is not likely to be a noticeable change in management to the average visitor,” she said. “These supplementary rules are formalizing and codifying decisions made in the 2008 Moab and Monticello Resource Management Plans (RMPs) and will help achieve the goals set forth in the respective plans.”
Proposed rules related to campfires would prohibit wood-pallet burning, campfires in non-designated sites and wood gathering.
According to the BLM, nails in wood pallets get left behind and may injure people and animals or damage vehicles, while makeshift fire pits increase risks to human safety and damage to natural resources, as well as having a negative visual impact and encouraging further illegal camping. Wood gathering would be prohibited to help preserve a wood supply not readily replaced in the desert environment. These rules would apply to all public lands within the Moab Field Office jurisdiction. Bryant said the number of people who build campfires in undesignated areas varies widely but because of the potential for resource damage and the danger to human life, “one fire is too much.”
Several camping restrictions were also proposed, which would prohibit camping at archaeological sites, historic sites posted as closed to camping, and non-designated areas.
According to the BLM, camping activity at archaeological sites destroys fragile resources and increases the risk of illegal artifact collection, while the food campers leave behind attracts animals to furthur damage the sites. Historical sites that would also be closed from camping would be those included or eligible for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places.
According to the BLM, camping at non-designated sites, or dispersed camping, degrades natural, visual and wildlife resources and camping where there are no toilet facilities poses risks to water wells and devalues adjacent private property.
The proposed rules would also prohibit operating motorized or mechanized vehicles on routes, trails or areas not designated as open by BLM signs or maps, and gathering petrified wood in the Colorado Riverway Special Recreation Management Area (SRMA) and high-visitation sites within the Labyrinth Canyon/Gemini Bridges SRMA. The rule is designed to preserve petrified wood exposed on the ground in the areas for future public viewing.
Two more proposed rules are to restrict human waste disposal to portable toilets, and to prohibit glass beverage containers at Sand Hill near the entrance to Arches National Park or at the Powerhouse Lane and Mill Creek area. The rule is designed to mitigate the risk of visitors being harmed by broken glass left behind in the areas that gets buried by sand or hidden by vegetation.
“Personal sanitation is always a concern, especially in popular areas that don’t have permanent facilities,” Bryant said. “There are also critical wildlife habitat areas that are more sensitive to human wastes. Most visitors are aware of proper disposal techniques, one of which is burial, another is utilizing portable toilets or packing out. Due to shallow soil, sand and rock, burial of waste is not always naturally mitigated, so certain areas have been identified for utilizing portable toilets, packing out of wastes and proper disposal.”
Bryant said the concern for visitors being harmed by broken glass at the Sand Hill area and the Powerhouse/Mill Creek area were raised during the RMP process and the BLM welcomes further comments on the proposed rules before they’re finalized.
The BLM Monticello Field Office has similar proposed rules and rules geared specifically toward protecting archaeological sites.
“The proposed rules support BLM efforts to ensure a positive and safe outdoor recreation experience for all visitors to Canyon Country District lands,” said Lance Porter, BLM Canyon Country District manager. “They also underscore our ongoing efforts to implement land management commitments we made with the public and our partners during the RMP planning process.”
The rules were developed to “provide for visitor health and safety and protect cultural and natural resources.”
Bryant said the BLM has taken an “educational approach” to the rules following the approval of the 2008 RMPs, providing public outreach through signing, websites, newsletters and work with user groups to provide visitors with information regarding the rules. She said the BLM will continue the approach in order to gain public confidence and compliance with the rules.
“The BLM has determined that these proposed rules are necessary to protect visitor health and safety, prevent natural and cultural resource degradation, and promote high-quality outdoor recreation opportunities,” according to the document containing the proposed rules.
According to the document, if implemented, violations of these rules in grazing areas would be punishable by up to a $500 fine under the Taylor Grazing Act of 1934 and under the land under the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976, violators could be fined up to a $1,000 and/or imprisoned up to a year.
Bryant said the BLM will likely “take an educational approach first and then use citations when necessary” to enforce the rules once implemented
The supplemental rules are available online at www.blm.gov/ut/st/en/fo/moab.html or www.blm.gov/ut/st/en/fo/monticello.html. Hard copies of the rules may also be obtained by visiting the Moab or Monticello Field Offices.
Written comments must be received or postmarked by Sept. 16. The most useful comments are those that are specific, confined to issues pertinent to these proposed supplementary rules, and explain the reason for any recommended change. Reference “Proposed Supplementary Rules” when submitting comments.
Comments may be mailed to Jason Moore at the BLM Canyon Country District Office, 82 E. Dogwood Ave., or emailed to email@example.com.
“The proposed rules support BLM efforts to ensure a positive and safe outdoor recreation experience for all visitors to Canyon Country District lands. They also underscore our ongoing efforts to implement land management commitments we made with the public and our partners during the RMP planning process.”
Public comments accepted through Sept. 16 on issues such as wood-gathering, waste, glass bottles, campfires
Written comments on the proposed rules of conduct on public lands will be accepted through Sept. 16. They may be mailed to Jason Moore at the BLM-Moab Field Office at 82 E. Dogwood Ave., or emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.