Conservationists Applaud Decision to Protect Factory Butte
“BLM made the right decision here and took decisive action where a much-beloved landscape was becoming scarred by relentless ORV use,” said Heidi McIntosh of the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance. “Once the BLM officials took a close look at the scars, soil erosion, and damage to rare cacti protected under the Endangered Species Act, they realized that Factory Butte called out for immediate rescue.” The protected cacti are the Wright’s fishhook cactus and the pincushion, or pediocactus.
BLM’s decision, to be published in the Federal Register tomorrow, would limit ORV use on 142,023 acres of public lands to specifically designated routes. It would also leave 2,602 acres open for unrestricted cross-country ORV use.
In all, BLM’s Richfield Field Office, which manages Factory Butte, includes 2.1 million acres of BLM lands in the center of the state. Currently, there are 4,300 miles of ORV routes in the Richfield Field Office, and over 1.6 million acres are open to cross-country travel. While BLM is gradually phasing out unlimited cross-country use by ORVs in favor of keeping them on specified trails, more than three-quarters of BLM lands in Utah are open for ORVs use.
“This decision begins to restore a sense of balance on the public lands between ORV use and other natural resources. It also reflects broad consensus in Utah that ORVs must be better managed and that they simply don’t belong in some places,” said McIntosh. A 2005 poll by Dan Jones & Associates found that 87% of Utahns believe that “there are some public lands where motorized access should not be permitted,” and 90% believe that land managers should only allow ORV use on specified trails.”