U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke and the Bureau of Land Management recently announced expanded recreation opportunities for motorized and non-motorized trails in the Recapture Canyon area located in San Juan County. The travel management plan includes nearly 7 miles of all-terrain vehicle and/or traditional vehicle access to this area while protecting archaeological sites and natural resources.
“Recreation on public lands is a big part of what we do at the Interior Department and the BLM, but for many persons with disabilities or for people who just don’t get around like they used to, our public lands aren’t accessible without motorized vehicles,” said Secretary Zinke. “Allowing ATVs and other vehicles in Recapture Canyon will open up opportunities for people to enjoy our public lands while still protecting the cultural and natural resources that make the place special. On my first day in office I prioritized public lands access; I’m happy to continue that mission.”
Recapture Canyon is home to cliff dwellings of the ancient Pueblo peoples. The dwellings were built more than 800 years ago. These archaeological sites and related artifacts are essential to understanding the story of the earliest inhabitants of the American Southwest. Additionally, Recapture Canyon is an important animal habitat, including sensitive riparian areas for the endangered Southwestern willow flycatcher and crucial winter ranges for mule deer and Rocky Mountain elk.
Recognizing how important the area is for motorized recreation, the BLM approved the use of a system of trails at the north end of the canyon near Recapture Dam and above the canyon on the west rim for ATV and full-size vehicle use. A total of 6.8 miles of motorized trail has been designated, including 5.6 miles specifically for ATVs and 1.2 miles to accommodate full-size vehicles. The new designation enhances the already extensive network of motorized trails including more than 31 miles of ATV-specific trails with just over 2,800 miles available for motorized use in the BLM Monticello Field Office area.
The BLM had previously closed 1,871 acres of the Recapture Canyon area to motorized vehicles due to damage caused by unauthorized trail construction and damage to the archaeological sites. This new decision will lift the closure order within the area. Trail design and other measures highlighted in the decision were incorporated to restore and protect archaeological sites and natural areas important to wildlife.
The BLM is committed to increasing recreational access to public lands across the country and will continue to work with the OHV community and other recreational groups in the Recapture Canyon area to enhance opportunities for responsible recreation on our public lands.
The Decision Record, environmental assessment, maps, and other supporting documents can be found on the project page at the BLM’s ePlanning website.