The Price River-Lost Spring Wash wilderness complex, located on the eastern flank of the San Rafael Swell includes the Price River, which winds through high desert landscape with ponderosa pines, douglas firs and various wildlife. The area has attracted attention for its potential natural gas deposits and plans to “burn coal and sequester the carbon dioxide on state-owned lands in the heart of the Price River proposed wilderness,” according to SUWA.
The Vermilion Cliffs-Upper Kanab Creek area are part of a series of 7,000-foot cliffs rising between the floor of the Grand Canyon and the rim of Bryce Canyon. Archaeological sites in the area were previously undisturbed, but a recent designation of off-road vehicle routs in the area, including in streambeds and through culturally historic sites is “dramatically changing the character of this area ... to a noisy, scarred playground for motorized recreation,” SUWA says.
Factory Butte is an iconic formation of badlands covered with a layer of shale that makes the area seem “moonlike,” SUWA says, but a carpet of spring flowers make the landscape stunning during the season. Two cactuses protected by the Endangered Species Act are found here. Dirt bike use in the area has destroyed some of those cactus plants and damaged soil crusts, accelerating erosion and contributing to dust storms that degrade air quality.
The Moquith Mountain Wilderness Study Area includes the Coral Pink Sand Dunes and is home to several endangered species of plants and insects. The mountain, which contains ancient rock art and artifacts, provides a natural spring to the area, but rampant off-road vehicle use in the area has damaged the vegetation.
Dirty Devil Country was formed by the winding Dirty Devil River, which carved a canyon system that sprawls hundreds of square miles west of Canyonlands National Park. The area has colorful cliffs, clear pools and massive buttes. Off-road vehicle paths designated by the BLM in some areas cross through archaeological sites, and the agency’s current management plan allows for oil and gas development, as well as the development of tar sands in the area.
The Upper Desolation Canyon area is one of the largest blocks of roadless BLM lands in the U.S., and offers an opportunity for families and river runners to canoe through “a remote place of uncommon beauty,” SUWA says. Reaching the put-in point for the canyon requires travelling through “a maze of oil and gas roads, traffic and drill rigs,” and drill rigs can be seen from the canyon rims. New development in the area would “detract from its outstanding wilderness experience,” SUWA says.
Labyrinth Canyon is "a portal into the heart of the red rock," SUWA says, with sandy beaches and side canyons for exploration that contain artifacts dating back 10,000 years. The BLM has designated off-road vehicle routes in the side canyons that “undermine the potential for visitors to enjoy a quiet canyon experience,” SUWA says, and in some cases the vehicle use has damaged the riparian stream in Tenmile Canyon. Much of the area is also open to oil and gas leasing.
The Canyonlands Basin and Rims area has long been considered for inclusion in Canyonlands National Park for its stunning canyons, hoodoos, spires and knobs, natural bridges and a year-round stream in Harts Draw that contributes to abundant wildlife in the area. Much of the land is open to oil and gas exploration and off-road vehicle routes, and SUWA says vehicle use in the area is drastically changing the landscape and type of experience visitors can have there.
The Cedar Mesa-Comb Ridge area is home to 700-year-old cliff dwellings, artifacts and a concentration of archaeological sites that are valued by Native Americans for their cultural and religious significance. The BLM has designated several off-road vehicle routes through several cultural sites eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places, SUWA says, and damage in Arch Canyon, on the northern periphery of Cedar Mesa, has already taken a toll by destroying the banks of a rare perennial stream.
The Glen Canyon-San Juan River area has been recognized by the BLM as containing some of the premier hiking routes along the Colorado Plateau. It includes thousand-foot-high slickrock mesas and a maze of canyons that have been preserved by their sheer remoteness. But, according to SUWA, off-road vehicles are now driving in places in the area not previously accessed, including canyon rims, stream beds and overgrown mining trails.