The Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance (SUWA) filed a petition in 2006 to close the road. Heinlein also announced that the BLM will begin developing a recreation management plan for Arch Canyon to help improve visitor’s experience of the area.
The decision was made after months of study to determine if motorized use in Arch Canyon was causing serious adverse effects to the fisheries, riparian, and cultural resources.
The BLM reviewed the information submitted by SUWA, as well as new information from additional studies.
The review found that:
• Arch Canyon supports a perennial stream that is home to three species of fish. BLM and the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources conducted genetic and sampling studies.
BLM also conducted water quality monitoring, invertebrate sampling and an assessment of the hydrologic system. The studies found that the habitat is supporting successful reproduction and development of all life stages of native fish. The isolated disturbances to fish habitat as a result of motorized vehicle crossings are minimal compared to the natural alteration from frequent flash floods.
• Riparian (creekside) data show the stream system is functioning properly. The canyon’s response to high floods illustrates the health of the system and shows it to be stable.
• The BLM conducted a new inventory of Arch Canyon cultural resources, documented several sites, and reviewed existing data. Archaeologists found that foot traffic causes damage to some sites, but eliminating motorized access would not resolve these problems.
Heinlein noted that “the BLM is initiating a recreation management plan for the area.”
The plan will address how to improve visitors’ experiences to Arch Canyon and could consider “a permitting system, establishing foot paths where they will not damage archaeological resources, monitoring, providing site etiquette information, inventory of resources, designating camping areas and others measures.”
The decision is posted at www.blm.gov/ut/st/en/fo/monticello.html.