The Bureau of Land Management has released Environmental Assessments regarding dispersed camping in the Labyrinth Rims/Gemini Bridges, Two Rivers and Utah Rims Special Recreation Management Areas (SRMA) around Moab, Utah. Each Assessment analyzes restricting and eliminating dispersed camping and making camping in these areas only available through designated campsites and campgrounds. Although this type of camping is preferred by some and should be available, free and primitive dispersed camping should also be accommodated.
Most users, in and around Moab are looking for dispersed camping opportunities. If this form of recreation is limited or eliminated the already hard to find campsites will become nearly impossible. You can see below through the three maps provided by the BLM Moab Field Office, the red portion that would be affected by these proposals.
Any damage to sensitive areas can be mitigated through management opportunities rather than simply closing use. According to the Dyrt, a camping app, 23% of those camping on public land were dispersed campers. Users already had reported difficulties in finding places to camp and more closures and restrictions will only exacerbate the issue by concentrating users in fewer areas. One of the claims to justify these restrictions is user conflict. However, the local Sherif department does not have formal records of user conflict and the BLM cannot provide data on any formal user conflict. Certain user groups complaining about another user group should not qualify as user conflict justifying the complete restriction of that user group.
Because these areas are all designated and managed as Special Recreation Management Areas, recreation of all forms should be accommodated and prioritized. We support BLM exploring management solutions such as banning the gathering of wood in the SRMA’s, requiring fire pans and portable toilets for overnight use. If all users comply with the previous suggestions, dispersed campers should also be allowed to comply with those rules and continue to use the area freely. Wildlife impacts can also be managed through temporary or seasonal closures instead of permanent restrictions.
Comments on these three plans are due June 23rd, and you can submit a comment on all three plans using our tool below. You can also read about each specific project through the BLM’s planning websites with the following links:
Labyrinth Rims/Gemini Bridges
As we participate in the planning process for a growing number of dispersed camping plans, we are finding that the actual camping users aren’t playing a meaningful role as stakeholders. We are adding our voice to these discussions as an organized collective voice of dispersed camping users, but the BLM needs to hear from you as well.