Keep parks viable for generations to come

Editor,

I have lived in Moab, Utah since 1991 and have been coming here since 1980. As we know, there have been many changes to this area over the years. However, for most of the people who live here, the biggest, most annoying change in the past five to seven years has been the profusion of ATVs and UTVs.

They have invaded our streets, neighborhoods and outlying areas. The constant drone is difficult to escape even when out enjoying the wonderful lands surrounding our town. The ATVs and UTVs are exceptionally noisy and can be heard at least 15 minutes before and after they go by. They can’t even hear each other and communicate with walkie-talkies.

UTVs and ATVs often travel in groups of three to 12. Many of them go well over the speed limit in town, and on the roads and trails. Almost everywhere they travel there is off-road destruction in their wake. Maybe it’s the advertising or the way they are presented, but these vehicles seem to be the new representation of the “Wild-Go-anywhere-you-want-to-West.”

Our national parks should be for everyone. It is scary to visualize the destruction they can, and most likely will, cause. I’ve seen firsthand how quickly they can rip up trees, churn up the soils and wreak havoc. I am also afraid that this could affect our tourism industry, encouraging more and more noise and discouraging the people who come from all over the world to experience our national parks.

Please follow the mandate of the National Park Service. Not only is this the right thing to do for the land and wildlife, but to protect the rights of the millions of visitors to these parks. There is not enough funding to protect these lands once the UTVs/ATVs are granted access. The White Rim and the Maze alone will be extremely adversely affected.

Official Park Service management policies reflect the National Park Service mandate and various acts passed by Congress. Here’s one of many policy excerpts that argues against this directive: “Congress, recognizing that the enjoyment by future generations of the national parks can be ensured only if the superb quality of park resources and values is left unimpaired, has provided that when there is a conflict between conserving resources and values and providing for enjoyment of them, conservation is to be predominant.” (Management Policies 2006, 1.4.3).

The Interior Department and NPS Intermountain Region director could do their part in supporting the national park superintendents in finding ways to manage/decrease the crowds, figuring out creative ways to deal with the excess of vehicles already in the parks (more shuttles like Zion) and keep the parks viable for generations to come.

– Judy Powers
Moab