Arches National Park is currently full.
When I saw this tweet just now, I was immediately reminded that former Arches National Park Ranger Edward Abbey saw this all coming way back in 1985. Back in 2012, we posted the never-aired Edward Abbey movie-essay. But please watch it again, and see how prophetically – and wryly – Abbey talks about the future of our National Parks: https://vimeo.com/49544042
It should also be mentioned that the “Arches National Park is currently full” announcement comes directly on the heels of the Trump administration opening up all the National Parks in Utah to ATVs, a decision that as made with zero NEPA and zero public notice or input.
As the Salt Lake Tribune reported last month:
The roar of ATVs could be coming to a Utah national park backcountry road near you under a major policy shift initiated by the National Park Service without public input.
Across the country, off-road vehicles like ATVs and UTVs are generally barred from national parks. For Utah’s famed parks, however, that all changes starting Nov. 1, when these vehicles may be allowed on both main access roads and back roads like Canyonlands National Park’s White Rim and Arches’ entry points from Salt Valley and Willow Springs….
Under the rule change, off-highway vehicles could roam Canyonlands’ Maze District and Arches’ Klondike Buffs — as long as they remain on designated routes. In general, ATVs would be allowed to travel roads that are open to trucks and cars.
The directive, which applies only to Utah parks, triggered an immediate backlash from conservation groups, which predicted the move will result in a “management nightmare” for parks already struggling with traffic jams and parking clutter.
Now the park service is inviting a whole new category of vehicle onto park roads, establishing new uses that will disrupt wildlife and other visitors’ enjoyment, warned Kristen Brengel, the National Parks Conservation Association’s vice president of government affairs.
[The directive was issued] after off-highway groups and Utah lawmakers led by Rep. Phil Lyman, R-Blanding, pressured the Interior Department to lift the prohibition….
Lyman is the former San Juan County commissioner who became a political celebrity after organizing an off-road vehicle protest ride though Recapture Canyon, which resulted in misdemeanor convictions, 10 days in jail and a reputation as a public lands warrior.
Adding pressure were UTV Utah and Utah OHV Advocates. According to the groups, Utah is home to 202,000 registered OHVs, or off-highway vehicles, the broad category that includes UTVs and ATVs.
“Despite being one of the largest groups of public land users, and even though the economic benefit of our community dwarfs most other recreational users combined, we often find ourselves discriminated against by decision-makers that head public land agencies,” the groups’ presidents, Bud Bruening and Brett Stewart, wrote in a joint July 29 letter to Bernhardt. “In Utah, this discrimination is particularly acute when it comes to the National Park Service.”
Sorry, Phil Lyman, but you actually don’t “find ourselves discriminated against.” You are not your ATV. Also, I’m willing to bet that every single person in Utah who owns an ATV, OHV or UTV also owns an automobile.