His playground pulls fun hogs off the public lands

  • Jeremy Parriott overlooking Area BFE

    Thomas Koch
 

NAME: Jeremy Parriott

VOCATION: Extreme-sports videographer and promoter

AGE: 32

HOME BASE: Moab, Utah

CLAIM TO FAME: Helping to create "Area BFE," a private playground for "extreme" off-roaders, mountain bikers and climbers.

HE SAYS: "Public lands around here are getting pretty bombarded with use — why not bring it to a private place?"

 

Standing at the edge of a sandstone cliff in southeastern Utah, Jeremy Parriott looks out over the hilly desert land that he owns with several partners. Nearby, a couple of dirt parking lots have been bulldozed into the piñons and junipers, and a four-wheel-drive trail twists through rocky outcroppings.

Parriott and his partners have a vision for this place: an extreme-sports paradise, where people can four-wheel, mountain bike and rock climb without the restrictions found on Utah’s public lands.

A few years ago, when he first started looking at desert land, Parriott thought about building a big skateboard park. But he soon decided that creating trails for four-wheelers would cost a lot less — and it would help take some of the pressure off public lands, which are getting hammered by off-road drivers (HCN, 5/30/05: Moab: On the horns of a recreation dilemma).

On their 320-acre spread 12 miles south of Moab, which he and his cohorts call Area BFE, they’ve carved out some steep, challenging routes for burly, big-tired rock crawlers. "If they can do really extreme stuff at our place," he says, "hopefully, they’ll stay on trails on public lands."

Unlike many of his four-wheeling brethren, Parriott also thinks the Bureau of Land Management should close some public trails to motorized use: "Hikers deserve a place where they can go and not hear motors."

Parriott, whose great-grandparents were early Moab settlers, says he’s always had an "explorer attitude." That attitude landed him in Iraq during the first Persian Gulf war, serving with the Navy. After returning to Moab in 1997, he ran a skateboard shop, raced motorcycles, and did movie stunts, then guided for a German adventure company. Guiding, he says, taught him that sports help bring out the best in people, and that "all people have the same basic nature." Now he makes a living by producing videos about extreme sports (mostly four-wheeling and rock-crawling) and by developing advertising for outdoor recreation clients.

So far, Area BFE is mostly visited by Jeepers and dirt bikers, but future plans include a rock-climbing area and mountain bike trails. Access is free, but to cover expenses, the partners have held competitive four-wheeling events and a blues festival on the land. Parriott says they’re doing this "definitely for love" — the project cost them more than $30,000 last year — and they’d be happy just to break even.

Adrien Taylor, editor of the Moab Times-Independent, says, "(Parriott’s) on to something. ... (Area BFE) gives people a place to really test their machines and skills. They’re going to do it whether we provide a place for them to do it or not."

Neighbors have complained that the property isn’t zoned for public events and that Parriott and his partners haven’t gotten permits. "Our bubble’s been burst. To be next to that kind of development, it’s not what we wanted out here," says Kiley Miller, co-owner of an adjoining parcel. But Bruce Bunker, zoning administrator for San Juan County, says the partners haven’t broken any rules.

Parriott gazes out over the desert again, and says he wishes a big transmission line some miles to the east was not visible. Then he shakes his head and laughs. "Listen to me. I don’t want power lines over there, but here I’ve bulldozed a parking lot." He adds, "I hope we’re allowed the time to make something happen here. I’d rather have people look at this as a way to work together."

The author is HCN’s news editor.

High Country News Classifieds
  • PART-TIME EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    Mitchell Museum of the American Indian Location: Evanston, IL Salary Range: $45,000 @ 24 hours per week. send resume: [email protected] www.mitchellmuseum.org
  • COMMUNICATIONS LEAD
    Southeast Alaska Conservation Council is hiring! Who We Are: The Southeast Alaska Conservation Council (SEACC) is a small grassroots nonprofit based out of Juneau, Alaska,...
  • SENIOR POLICY ADVISOR
    Since 1989, The Nature Conservancy in Alaska has been doing work you can believe in protecting the lands and waters that all life depends on....
  • OUTDOOR PROGRAM - ASSISTANT DIRECTOR
    St. Lawrence University seeks to fill the position of Assistant Director in the Outdoor Program. To view the complete position description, including minimum qualifications required,...
  • PUBLIC LANDS DIRECTOR
    Job Announcement Conserve Southwest Utah is seeking a dedicated advocate for conservation and public lands Public Lands Director a "make a difference" position Conserve Southwest...
  • FOR SALE
    Yellowstone Llamas Successful Yellowstone NP concession Flexible packages
  • DIRECTOR OF DEVELOPMENT & MARKETING
    Grand Staircase Escalante Partners is seeking a full-time Director of Development & Marketing. This is a senior position responsible for the development of all marketing...
  • LEGAL DIRECTOR
    The Legal Director will work closely with the Executive Director in cultivating a renewed vision at NMELC that integrates diversity, equity, and justice. Black, Indigenous,...
  • VICE PRESIDENT, LANDSCAPE CONSERVATION
    The Vice President for Landscape Conservation leads Defenders' work to promote landscape-scale wildlife conservation, focusing on four program areas: federal public lands management; private lands...
  • NOVA SCOTIA OCEAN FRONT
    Camp or Build on 2+ acres in Guysborough. FSBO. $36,000 US firm. Laurie's phone: 585-226-2993 EST.
  • COMMUNITY FORESTER
    The Clearwater Resource Council located in Seeley Lake, Montana is seeking a full-time community forester with experience in both fuels mitigation and landscape restoration. Resumes...
  • GUNNISON BASIN ROUNDTABLE
    The Gunnison Basin Roundtable is currently accepting letters of interest for ten elected seats. Five of the elected members must have relevant experience in the...
  • PCTA TRAIL CREW TECHNICAL ADVISORS IN WASHINGTON'S NORTH CASCADES
    Seasonal Positions: June 17th to September 16th (14 weeks) - 3 positions to be filled The mission of the Pacific Crest Trail Association is to...
  • WE'RE LOOKING FOR LEADERS!
    As we celebrate 50 years of great Western journalism, High Country News is looking for a few new board members to help set a course...
  • MEMBERSHIP DIRECTOR
    Job Announcement Job Title: Membership Director Supervisor: Executive Director Salary: Up to $65,000/year DOE Benefits: Generous benefits package — health insurance, Simple IRA and unlimited...
  • UTAH PUBLIC LANDS MANAGER
    Who we are: Since 1985, the Grand Canyon Trust has been a leading voice in regional conservation on the Colorado Plateau. From protecting the Grand...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    Executive Director Walker Basin Conservancy Reno & Yerington, NV Background The Walker Basin Conservancy (Conservancy) leads the effort to restore and maintain Walker Lake while...
  • WIND RIVER WRITERS AND PHOTOGRAPHERS RETREAT BY THE NATIONAL BIGHORN SHEEP CENTER
    Enhance your writing or photography skills with world-class instructors in the beautiful Wind River Mountains. All skill levels welcome. Continuing education credits available.
  • EARTH CRUISER FX FOR SALE
    Overland Vehicle for travel on or off road. Fully self contained. Less than 41,000 miles. Recently fully serviced Located in Redmond, OR $215'000.
  • ENVIRONMENTAL GEOPHYSICS
    identifies suspect buried trash, tanks, drums &/or utilities and conducts custom-designed subsurface investigations that support post-damage litigation.