War on wheels

  Jeeps, dirt bikes and four-wheelers roar off designated roads in the wildlands of Utah and rip up desert wildlife, says the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance. Meanwhile, the Bureau of Land Management stands by and lets the damage happen, the group charges. SUWA wants President Clinton to issue an Executive Order closing all public lands to off-road drivers until thorough environmental studies are completed. One example of agency neglect: Just outside Moab, in the Grand Resource Area, the BLM signs direct off-road vehicle drivers into areas proposed for wilderness designation. The BLM is considering emergency closures of some areas, says Phil Gezon, outdoor recreation planner for the agency. But closures might have an adverse effect by sending drivers through even more delicate areas that have not yet suffered from long-term use, he warns. SUWA has begun compiling evidence documenting off-road vehicle damage and is looking for photographs that tell the story vividly. Contact the group's ORV Project, 1471 South 1100 East, Salt Lake City, UT 84105-2423 (801/486-3161).