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Latest: Zinke releases ATV plans for Recapture Canyon area

The Interior Secretary wants to prioritize public-land access.


The Bureau of Land Management banned motor vehicles in southern Utah’s Recapture Canyon in 2007, after unauthorized ATV trail-building damaged ancient Native American archaeological sites. In 2014, San Juan County Commissioner Phil Lyman led supporters on an illegal four-wheeler ride in the 1,871-acre area, harming several more sites. Lyman, a Sagebrush Rebellion backer, said they were protesting overly restrictive federal management. He eventually served a short prison term (“The rise of the sagebrush sheriffs,” HCN, 2/2/16).


In early April, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke announced plans to create a 7–mile trail system in the greater Recapture Canyon area, mostly on routes that ATVs were already using with BLM’s tacit approval. Motor vehicles still will be illegal in most of the canyon bottom. Zinke said the decision showed his determination to prioritize public-land access while still protecting cultural treasures: “For many persons with disabilities or for people who just don’t get around like they used to, our public lands aren't accessible without motorized vehicles.”