Utah’s Roadless Rule Petition May Impact Popular Climbing Areas

Utah’s Roadless Rule Petition May Impact Popular Climbing Areas

On February 28, 2019 the State of Utah filed a petition with the U.S. Forest Service requesting changes in how roadless areas in the state are managed. Roadless areas are minimally developed Forest Service lands protected from construction and logging, while still allowing for certain uses and management practices excluded from the more restrictive designation of wilderness. The State of Utah petitioned that they be allowed to create a custom, Utah-specific “Roadless Rule” for these forest areas, thus removing federal land management policies from being observed. Under the Utah-specific rule, 79% of existing roadless areas would see reduced protections, while 9% would be removed entirely from roadless designation. Only 12% would maintain existing levels of protection.

According to our partners at Outdoor Alliance, there are over 1,000 rock climbing routes within Utah’s roadless areas, making this an important issue for our climbing community. Joe’s Valley, American Fork Canyon, and routes accessed from the Mirror Lake Highway in the Uintas are some major areas that are within or very close to roadless areas that will be affected by this potential change in management.

Utah’s roadless areas are an important piece in the effective stewardship of outdoor recreation resources. This is why the SLCA, along with the other members of Outdoor Alliance Utah, sent a letter to Governor Gary Herbert earlier this year voicing our concerns. We asked that the petition proceed slowly, with extensive opportunity for public comment, and that any changes result in an overall increase in both conservation and outdoor recreation values. In its current form, the state’s petition does not adequately address these concerns. We hope there will be more opportunities for revision and public input in the near future, and we will continue to advocate for the climbing community as the state’s petition moves forward.

Visit this blog post from the Outdoor Alliance to learn more about the petition’s impact on outdoor recreation, or to get involved.

Check out the Outdoor Alliance’s Utah Public Lands and Recreation web application to explore roadless rule impacts on other forms of recreation

Click here to read the State of Utah’s Roadless Rule Petition

April 12, 2019

SLCA Policy & Conservation Committee

Julia Geisler