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Sunday, May 19, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

ATVs Threaten Artifacts, Groups Say

SALT LAKE CITY (CN) - The Bureau of Land Management is violating national environmental law by allowing ATVs into a southeastern Utah canyon that contains adobe dwellings, rock art and 2,000-year-old pottery shards, conservation groups say in Federal Court. The artifacts are evidence of Puebloan peoples who lived in the canyon 2,000 years ago, drawn by a perennial stream, a desert rarity, which off-road vehicle users cross an estimated 120 times during one round trip in the canyon.

he Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance says the BLM ignored surveys estimating that 100 archeological sites lie within the 8-mile-long Arch Canyon, many of which are eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places, says the suit.

The artifacts are evidence of Puebloan peoples who lived in the canyon 2,000 years ago, drawn by a perennial stream, a desert rarity, which off-road vehicle users cross an estimated 120 times during one round trip in the canyon, the plaintiffs say. New routes follow stream corridors, causing erosion and vegetation loss.

The U.S. Forest Service closed the canyon to motorized use at its boundary with BLM-managed lands, the suit states.

The plaintiffs - which include Great Old Broads for Wilderness - say the BLM violated the Federal Land Policy and Management Act and the Administrative Procedure Act and.Arch Canyon, in San Juan County, is home to the flannelmouth sucker, listed as a sensitive species by the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources.

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