As the desert awakens from its winter respite and Moab prepares for another influx of spring tourism, I hope the Bureau of Land Management helps local and visiting recreationists with a pragmatic revision of the Labyrinth Rims/Gemini Bridges Travel Management Plan. As the BLM undergoes its bureaucratic process of adopting a new plan, I write to advocate for Alternative B as the only option that protects our canyons and their wild inhabitants, while simultaneously limiting noisy recreation on public lands.

As readers may recall, last fall the BLM released four alternatives for motorized recreation planning for the nearly 304,000 acres northwest of Moab. These proposed plans represented a spectrum of recreation planning: Alternative A was an “as-is” approach that allows the more than 1,200 miles of designated roads to remain, despite the fact that many of those routes are poorly planned, ecologically destructive, and little-used. Alternatives C and D favor motorized recreation, keeping routes through riparian zones and other fragile desert ecosystems. Quiet and human-powered recreation are an afterthought in Alternatives A, C, and D. Should they be adopted, the BLM would be disregarding its mandate to serve all user groups.

Of the four maps presented by the BLM, Alternative B is the only one that sufficiently addresses motorized impacts, remediates ecological destruction, and provides quiet buffer zones for the more-than-human communities that breed, feed, and live in this area. Riparian habitats along the Green River and its side canyons would get a reprieve from motorized encroachment. Hikers and river runners would be allowed renewed pockets of quiet. The entire area would get the reprieve it desperately needs.

Alternative B still allows motorized access to a huge network of roads, but it fixes long standing issues. It gives other recreation and wildlife their space. It is pragmatic, dynamic, and accounts for the huge variety of users. That is the sort of recreation planning I expect from the Moab BLM.

As a wildlife biologist who has lived in and learned from canyon country for the last few decades, I have seen firsthand how explosive recreation tourism and steadily increasing noise have threatened wild communities and the resilience of our desert ecosystem. The revision of the Labyrinth Rims Travel Management Area presents an opportunity for the BLM to rebalance use and access in this region. I urge them to adopt Alternative B.

Dan Kent