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Feds to open Utah’s national parks to ATVs; advocates fear damage, noise they may bring
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.
The move was ordered Tuesday by the the National Park Service’s acting regional director, Palmer “Chip” Jenkins, who directed a memo to Utah park superintendents instructing them to align their regulations with Utah law, which allows off-road vehicles to travel state and county roads as long as they are equipped with standard safety equipment and are registered and insured.
“This alignment with state law isn’t carte blanche to take their ATVs off road,” said agency spokeswoman Vanessa Lacayo. “If people [drive] off road, they will be cited. Protection of these resources is paramount.”
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.
“These are national parks that have incredible resources, cultural resources, natural resources, and so by allowing these vehicles that are tailored to go anywhere, you’re potentially putting these resources at risk,” Brengel said. “The park service should be going through a public process, doing an analysis and making sure they can adequately protect the park and its resources and visitors. They haven’t done that.”
Brengel said her group is conferring with its attorneys to consider its options to block the rule change.
Setting the stage for this change in policy was SB181 enacted by Utah lawmakers in 2008, authorizing any “street-legal” vehicle on all state and county roads. For the past 11 years, the National Park Service has pushed back, closing park roads to these recreational vehicles under the rationale that it is too easy to drive them illegally off the roads.
“The addition of off-road vehicle traffic on park roads will inevitably result in injury and damage to park resources. These specialized vehicles are designed, produced and marketed for the purpose of off-road travel, and they are uniquely capable of easily leaving the road and traveling cross country,” states a 2008 park service memo explaining why Arches and Canyonlands should remain off-limits to ATVs. “No reasonable level of law enforcement presence would be sufficient to prevent ATV and OHV use off roads. Park rangers will have no ability to pursue and apprehend vehicle users off road without adding to the damage they cause to park resources.”
When Utah enacted SB181, all-terrain vehicles, which ride like a four-wheeled motorcycle, were the most used off-road vehicle. UTVs, or so-called utility terrain vehicles, equipped with side-by-side bucket seats, steering wheels, robust suspension and roll cages, have since eclipsed ATVs in popularity, as well as their ability to create impacts. They can be operated at higher speeds and can be so loud that occupants wear ear protection.
Jenkins, who served most recently as the superintendent of Mount Rainier National Park, issued the directive after off-highway groups and Utah lawmakers led by Rep. Phil Lyman, R-Blanding, pressured the Interior Department to lift the prohibition.
In a Sept. 2 letter to Interior Secretary David Bernhardt, Lyman wrote that he is "offended" that the park service discriminates against off-highway vehicle owners, noting than nearly all of Utah's national parks are accessed from state and county roads.
“The owners of street-legal OHVs comply with numerous laws and regulations to be given the privilege to drive on a wide range of state and county roads,” he wrote in the letter, signed by 13 other Utah lawmakers. “They also contribute to the maintenance of the state highway system through gasoline taxes and registration fees.”
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.”
Many southern Utah county commissioners had lobbied for this change in the hopes of widening riders’ options for roaming Utah’s public lands. Counties maintain many of these back roads, according to Newell Harward, a Wayne County commissioner who welcomed the rule change.
“We are happy with it,” said Harward, whose county includes Capitol Reef National Park and Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. “It will increase some tourism issues with folks who want to use some of these roads with street-legal UTVs. I don’t know the difference between those and small Jeeps [which had always been allowed]. I’m hoping people will pay attention to the laws and stay on roads. If they don’t, then this is going to get backed up.”
Glen Canyon had already loosed its rules a few years ago, when it developed a new travel plan allowing ATVs on roads around Circle Cliffs. But that was only after a public process, an environmental review and a final decision that has yet to be formally implemented, according to Neal Clark, staff attorney with the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance.
“UTVs are built for one reason, which is off-road use. That is the purpose for the existence of these machines,” Clark said. “They’re loud and obnoxious and because of that they’re completely contrary to the reasons that people travel from across the globe and across the country to visit national parks.”
Article Source: https://www.sltrib.com/news/environment/2019/09/28/feds-open-utahs-national/
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As the owner of a pretty tricked out 2008 Kawasaki Teryx, I am very familiar with the Teryx. My Teryx did not stay stock long, but I recently spent three days in a bone stock 2008 Teryx on a ride to the Grand Canyon.
The 2008 Teryx is a great machine, but my biggest complaint was that it came out with carbs instead of fuel injection. In less that a year since the first Teryxs hit dealer floors, Kawasaki dealers are already selling 2009 Teryxs with EFI. The New digital fuel inject on the Teryx is really nice. The engine starts right up and idles smoothly. On acceleration, the 2009 Teryx felt more crisp and seemed to get up to top speed a little quicker. While it is not a night and day difference, I definitely preferred everything about the EFI on the 2009 over the carburetors on the 2008.
Next up on the list of what's new is a fuel gauge. I know it doesn't seem like something to get that excited about, but I do some long distance rides, and the fuel level display takes the mystery out of "I wonder how much fuel I have left?"
The Teryx Sport has upgraded aluminum wheels which not only look much better, but are also 2.2 lbs. lighter than the standard steel wheels. Losing unsprung weight not only requires less energy to get the tires spinning, but also helps the suspension work better. And as a little bonus, the aluminum wheels are actually strong that their steel counterpart.
Suspension is on the 2009 Teryx Sport has a few upgrades as well. The gas-charged Kayaba shocks have reservoirs all the way around to help reduce fade in rough terrain. The preload adjustment is step-less, and they have fully adjustable rebound and compression (high and low speed) damping. Although we did not have any opportunities to jump the new Teryx Sport, we did get into some nasty whoops and hard g-outs.
I felt the Teryx Sport suspension handled the terrain better than a standard Teryx suspension. The ride through the light chop was a bit smoother than a standard Teryx and when we got into the whoops I felt a little more comfortable as well. Although I was able to bottom out the front shocks on a few hard g-outs, a standard shock would have gone to the stops more often and with more force. Overall, even though I did not spend any time trying to fine tune the adjustments on the new Sport shocks, I think they are a worthy improvement over standard shocks.
The Lime Green plastic on the Teryx Sport is a great color. Much more sharp than the drab green found on the 2008 Teryx. And with all the UTVs out in the dunes in Glamis, there is no doubt that you are in a Kawasaki when you are driving it.
The 2009 Kawasaki Teryx 750 FI 4x4 Sport has a MSRP of $11,899.
A full list of all new 2009 Kawasaki Teryx improvements and photo galleries can be found here.
2009 Kawasaki Teryx Sport Press Intro
2009 Kawasaki Teryx 750 FI 4x4 Sport Review
Teryx 750 FI 4x4 Sport - Kawasaki
this is for any who knows the seattle area. i heard of a place called "riders lake", or at least i think that was the name, for a place to ride with lots of mud. i was told it was around Sultan. If anyone knows of this place, could you give me info on where it is and if its legal to ride. i will be heading over that way for a meeting and i was wondering if it woul be worth loading up the quad and hauling it over the mountain,
By Guest DunePrincess
Hi Y'all.. I'm new to the site. I added a few of our favorite riding spots. I'll keep adding more..
Just wanted to introduce myself. I would love to meet more Washington riders- and more female riders!. So stop by and say Hi!
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The campaign, created by Tread Lightly, unites the US Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, Utah Division of State Parks, Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, and the Utah School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration together in an effort to spread a consistent message throughout the state. Tread Lightly! also brings funding and support from the private sector, such as Yamaha’s OHV Access Initiative and the National Shooting Sports Foundation, making this a public/private partnership promoting conservation and sustainable outdoor recreation.
The outreach effort is centered on the slogan RIDE ON Designated Routes, originally created for national application but now being customized with Utah-specific images. Since 1998, the number of off-highway vehicles (OHVs) registered in Utah has nearly tripled, putting additional pressure on Utah's public lands, especially in popular riding areas. RIDE ON reinforces that responsible recreation is the key to preserving and protecting Utah's many great motorized recreation opportunities. The initiative will also expand to address issues like safety and resource damage– today’s most pressing recreation issues in Utah.
Went out to the Pony Express Route area by Vernon, Utah again yesterday. Had a blast, but dang it was cold & the wind didn't help. I froze my tush off !! :shock2: ... The weather guys said, Warm & Sunny ... but when I got there it was 27 degs, windy, overcast with a threat of rain ... good thing I took a couple extra shirts with me. And I had to put my Gore-Tex rain bibs on to protect my ........ legs ... so much for "Warm Weather Riding" ... you'd think I was still winter rid'in with the tracks !! :nopityc:
I did 57.3 miles today and this is unusal for me, but there was lots of road riding betwix the areas to wheel. Got into some sticky black mud, some snow, & yup, some dust. It was a Great Day !! :partyc:
The 30th of Mar 2011 is when I took my first ride with my Can-Am, and as of today, almost one year later, I have 1,758.7 miles on that Bad Boy !! ... Not bad Huh !!?? :cheer: ... and that's true miles, cause I bought the 3rd Position Track module which gives true miles driven & speed when the tracks are on ... so ... to alll you nay sayers ... :slap:
Lots of roads out here, lots to see ... a guy can ride fast and still do lots of techincal riding ... :drivingc:
Well, here's the link to the slideshow ... hope ya like the photo's .... :cheers2c:
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