Access to the proposed Rockwell wilderness is from Utah Highway 6, 32 miles north of Delta. Turn west then, in three miles, southwest into the Little Sahara Recreation Area. Rockwell is the northwest corner of the BLM-administered Recreation Area and is easily reached from the White Sands Campground.
The Rockwell area provides habitat for 115 bird species, 48 mammal species, 15 reptile species, and 1 amphibian, according to the BLM. The endemic four-wing saltbush, Atriplex canescens, grows as tall as 12 feet and is thought to have been widespread at one time. However, apparently due to heavy grazing throughout the West, it has retreated to this single isolated spot. While not currently listed as a threatened or endangered plant, this giant saltbush is a likely candidate for eventual listing. The relict plant community in this area also includes ancient junipers, big sagebrush, and other sand dune species, all in a natural condition and unaffected by human intrusion. Because this community is a remnant of the vegetation that once covered much of the western deserts, it is of special interest to botanists.
The proposed wilderness is bordered by the 60,000-acre Little Sahara Recreation Area, two-thirds of which is available for ORV use and would remain open even if the Rockwell area were designated wilderness. The BLM has not proposed wilderness protection for any of the Rockwell area, yet is applying restrictions on ORVs within its natural area that are similar to those for wilderness areas.
The BLM (1986) cites a "low likelihood of recovery" of locatable minerals and a "low favorability" for oil and gas. In the absence of mineral and ORV conflicts, the Rockwell area should be designated as wilderness, thus conferring a greater degree of protection than the current administrative designation.