Kane County Commission
76 N. Main St., Kanab, Utah 84741
March 19, 2018
To: Whit Bunting, BLM Field Office Manager
Harry Barber, BLM GSENM Manager
From: Dirk Clayson, Kane County Commission Re: Paria River Road
Kane County would like to formally request that the signs obstructing access to the Paria River Road be removed no later than April 5, 2018.
Kane County sincerely appreciates the many helpful land management actions and efforts from the Department of the Interior and local BLM offices that have been made and are being worked on the assist in- benefit of BLM land management. We have seen some truly amazing activities such as site visits from Secretary Ryan Zinke, The signature of a
Presidential Proclamation in our State Capitol by Donald J. Trump, the BLM planning effort by the Kanab Field Office and the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument Office and work on our trails systems. Thank you for the many efforts that we see from your daily work to actively manage the lands.
I understand that this year is a very busy year with difficulties to add one more request.
However, I would appreciate your review of this request; as it is a very significant matter for Kane County. As you are aware, there has been a new Presidential Proclamation signed on December 4, 2017 by President Donald J. Trump at our Utah State Capitol building regarding the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, which revised the boundaries of the monument as well as creating three separate areas. The Paria River Road was cherry stemmed out of each of these areas and is no longer within the boundaries of the revised monument lands. As such, I believe that this matter would be a Kanab Field Office decision, but as these lands are both involved in a revised planning effort, I thought it best to make this request to both the Kanab Field Office as well as the GSENM office.
Kane County has been involved in preserving the historical roads and trails within the BLM and Forest Service lands in Kane County through a number of methods of involvement including, participation in planning efforts for resource management and travel management planning, willingness to continue to maintain these roads, coordination efforts as well as a long standing RS2477 legal batt le. Over 75% of the historical roads,
roads open prior to 1966, within the boundaries of the President William J. Clinton 1996 GSENM Proclamation has been threatened to be closed. Kane County's tireless efforts to
preserve these roads have kept most of these roads open, except for a handful, including the iconic Paria River Road. We appreciate the BLM's restraint regarding closing roads pending the outcome of the title litigation.
With the release of the December 4, 2017 GSENM Proclamation revising the status of the lands, we now formally request that all obstructions preventing access to the Paria River Road be removed based on the following items:
1- The December 4, 2017 Proclamation states that after a 60-day period, the provisions of the proclamation shall be applied. In addition to the modifications to the boundaries', the Proclamation calls for five modifying paragraphs to the 6920 proclamation. The third of these specifically states that any roadways open prior to the creation of the September 18, 1996 proclamation allows for a decision to be made by the Secretary allowing motorized vehicles and maintenance for such use. Specific language is: "Proclamation 6920 is clarified to provide that, consistent with protection of the objects identified above and other applicable law, the Secretary may allow motorized and non-mechanized vehicle use on roads and trails existing immediately before the issuance of Proclamation 6920 and maintain roads and trails for such use". Note that this statement is specific and also not conditioned upon revised land planning and travel management plans. The Paria River Road was open and designated for travel before Proclamation 6920 and was physically closed in early 2009. The Paria River Road clearly falls under the conditions of "open prior to the creation of the 1997 Monument."
2- Utah State code 72-7-102 prohibits obstructing a county road:
(2) Except as provided in Subsection ill and Section 54-4-15, a person may not:
(a) dig or excavate, within the right-of-way of any state highway, county road, or city street; or
(b) place, construct, or maintain any approach road, driveway, pole, pipeline, conduit, sewer, ditch, culvert, billboard, advertising sign, or any other structure or object of any kind or character within the right-of-way.
(7) A person who violates the provisions of Subsection ill is guilty of a class B misdemeanor.
We understand that there is a planning effort underway, as well as pending litigation that may add more surety and direction to this matter. However, we assert that the obstructions on the Paria River road can and should be removed with administrative authority and not be held up pending the outcome of planning and legal decisions.
We also request this matter be determined and acted on no later than April 5, 2018 for the following reasons:
1- Kane County is currently involved in a court process where Judge Waddoups and legal counsel for the parties involved will visit a select number of roads for on-site review. We believe that this will be scheduled within the next few months. This court action is a part of the court proceedings for the 22 counties in Utah that have pending litigation on this
matter. Court requirements call for a special review of these roads requiring site inspections for a Bellwether Case that is in process to move this forward. Because the Paria River road has been closed for some time, we are confident that we will need to travel and check the road in advance in order to assist in traveling the road. We will need some time to accomplish this. We can't risk delays in the schedule for this bellwether case.
2- We are having a Utah State Parks trails event: "Ride On Utah, Big Ride" where leadership from all Utah ride clubs under the direction of Utah State Parks will be in our area from April 30 - May 4. Kane County has been chosen to host this event. It is a chance for Kane County to promote the trails and responsible trail uses. They are requesting access to this area as part of their event.
3- We are anxious to have this road opened for our 2018 tourist season as well as local users. Current use of this area is extremely low. There are nice facilities in this area including toilet, parking and ATV unloading areas, picnic tables that were all once utilized that now sit empty week after week due to the closure of this road. We would really like to see it open this year. We have people who have waited year after year for it to be open, a number of them having passed away, before they could enjoy this area again. We simply cannot rest until this is open.
It is clear that the intent of the revised boundaries' that kept the Paria River Road outside of the revised monument boundary was to facilitate having an open route. It is clear that the language in the December 2017 Proclamation allows the BLM to allow for use of any roads open prior to the 1997 monument to be open now. It is clear that the Paria River Road was open prior to the creation of the 1997 Monument Proclamation. Therefore, it seems to be clearly a decision administratively achievable for the BLM to take action on this matter and remove the obstructions in the Paria River Road.
Please let me know if there is anything that I can assist with regarding this matter. We would appreciate a decision on this matter and action taken by April 5, 2018.
Kane County Commission Chairman
Secretary Ryan Zinke, United States Secretary of the Interior Ed Roberson, Utah State BLM Director
Brian Steed, Acting Assistant National BLM Director Chris Stewart, Utah State Congressman
Mike Noel, Utah House of Representatives Rob Bishop, Utah State Congressman
Orin Hatch, Utah State Senator