Garfield County isn't immediately free to begin road work on southern Utah's Burr Trail, despite a federal appeals court ruling that the county has a legal right of way to the road, officials say.
At county commissioners' request, representatives of the Bureau of Land Management and U.S. attorney's office met Thursday to discuss steps the county must take before continuing a road-improvement project that has been strenuously opposed by environmentalists.County officials had hoped to begin scheduling work on the scenic dirt road following a ruling by the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals earlier this month.
The court upheld U.S. District Judge Aldon Anderson's finding that the county has a legal right of way to pave the road. However, the panel ordered the BLM to perform an environmental assessment of the impact of road work on adjacent wilderness study areas, overturning Anderson's ruling that previous studies were the equivalent of an assessment.
The appeals court has returned the case to Anderson to define the specific wilderness areas and determine their boundaries. Until he does, "the county isn't free to begin working if they wanted to," said BLM-Utah spokesman Jerry Meredith.