Moab and jeeps - ? for locals- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Moab and jeeps - ? for locals

    Howdy -

    I've been riding in Moab 2-3 times/year since about 1990 - I obviously love the place. However, in recent years it seems that a lot of the riding is showing increasing damage from jeepers - ledges being dug out, little ledgy areas broken into rubble, lots of drive-arounds, etc. I recently visited and rode Flat Pass, among other routes - the damage was enough to make me really sad. And enough to make me think I don't need to do that ride any more - formerly one of my favorites.

    Is this just me being oversensitive, or are you guys seeing the same thing? If so, what if anything is being done about it? I understand that many of the Moab classic rides are, in fact, jeep trails - they were there first. And I understand that the jeepers bring serious cash to the community.

    But, to me anyway, it seems like the damage is increasing at an ever-quickening pace. And I'm wondering if, at some point, some of the riding there is just going to be chalked up as sacrificed to the jeeps, or if some of the locals are working on things we as visitors can support to try and get a handle on the problem.

    TIA for any insights you can share.

    MG
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  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mountaingirl1961
    Is this just me being oversensitive?
    Yep it is!

    Sorry I'm not trying to be a dick I just think that Moab is one of those places that people need to realize will always be multiple use. Like you said a lot of the great Moab trails started as either Jeep or ATV/Motorcycle trails and it isn't fair to try to get them kicked off of them just because some may feel that they are damaging the area too much.

    Ok I'm off my soap box and by the way I don't Jeep or ride Moto and I too make at least a couple trips to Moab a year just to soak in the amazing rides that I don't think you will find anywhere else in the world. Man I love Moab!
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  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by kadeater
    Yep it is!

    Sorry I'm not trying to be a dick I just think that Moab is one of those places that people need to realize will always be multiple use. Like you said a lot of the great Moab trails started as either Jeep or ATV/Motorcycle trails and it isn't fair to try to get them kicked off

    I'm not even mildly interested in seeing jeeps kicked off of these trails, but I am very interested in seeing the damage they do mitigated and any further damage avoided. That's my question for the locals - if it's something that's getting any attention/causing any concern locally.
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  4. #4
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    MG,

    Yes there is a lot of local concern about resource damage, but it is tempered by local interest in maintaining Moab's "Jeep Mecca" status.

    The biggest obstacle to change is the unclear jurisdiction of the jeep roads. The BLM (Federal Government) is far more concerned about resource damage than is Grand County. The problem is that while the BLM considers the jeep roads to be theirs, and has even considered closure of routes, the County claims the jeep roads as county-owned rights of way. The County Council has ZERO interest in restricting use of such roads to motorized recreation. The Fed vs. County jurisdiction battle plays out all across southern Utah.

    Moto use in Moab has exploded over the past five years. By moto I mean dirt bikes (steady increase), jeeps and rockcrawlers (steady increase), and ATVs (exponential increase). All these people on the trails means a corresponding increase in trail (and frequently in the case of ATVs, off-trail) damage. To consistently find solitude on a bike requires a more studious knowledge of the backcountry than it did five or ten years ago. Keep in mind that by following the main arteries of travel (any of the classic trails) you see the damage along those arteries. There is a vast world of redrock crenulation that exists outside of these main arteries -- a world which remains fairly pristine.

    For every 10 people that know Moab as a mountain biking mecca, there are probably 15 that know it as a jeeping mecca, 8 that know it as a moto/ATV mecca, 5 that know it as a hiking mecca, 5 that know it as a photography mecca and 2 or 3 that know it as a river running mecca. Unlike Fruita, which wisely roots its mecca status firmly in mountain-biking, Moab has many hats to wear.

    I'm no moto-apologist, and I agree with you that the damage in the last five years has gotten out of hand, but I also know realistically that SUWA and the "quiet recreation" (i.e., biking) voices representing Moab cannot contain the current moto-onslaught, with its legions of advocates and demonstrable economic boosts. As I mentioned above, even the hikers I know on the County Council will not support route closure, and the BLM will never be well-funded enough to employ more than a handful of backcountry rangers to monitor trouble spots at all, or even most, times.

    I hope this helps. Let me know if you have any other questions.

    hfly

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by hfly
    MG,

    Yes there is a lot of local concern about resource damage, but it is tempered by local interest in maintaining Moab's "Jeep Mecca" status.

    (sigh)

    I thought this might be the case - we are having the same problems here, primarily with ATV folks. I am somewhat surprised to hear that the local politicos aren't concerned at all with the concerns of non-motorized users, or with the long-term harm ongoing and increasing resource damage will do to the desert that brings people to Moab in the first place.

    You are right about some of the pristine places still out there - I found one last time through and am going to be trying another in a couple of weeks. Still - those places aren't generally on the maps or in the guidebooks, and we turistas aren't going to have much opportunity to find them on a long weekend. Without some attention paid to the condition of the places you do publicize for visitors, eventually we are going to start scheduling more trips to Fruita or St. George.

    I wish the politicos could understand that.
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  6. #6
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    Trail Damage

    There has been trail damage at all levels in the Moab area. Jeeps, motorcycles, ATVs, mountain bikes, hikers, dogs. Take a hike at Negro Bill Canyon. There is much more damage there than there was fifteen years ago, and it is all foot/dog traffic. Some people just don't know how to act, regardless of their travel mode.

    If there is a marked trail of any type in Moab, (or any other 'managed' area), it is a sacrifice zone, pure and simple. There are going to be certain numbers of clueless and/or uncaring people no matter what is done to educate them. The difference, of course, is that a bozo on an ATV can do a lot more damage in a short amount of time than a hiker.

    All or parts of most of the popular trails in Moab (including Flat Pass) started as mining/ranching/pipeline roads cut by D9 Cats and the like. They were abandoned in the 60's and 70's, then recovered to what people remember them to be 15 or 20 years ago.

    Starting in the late 80's, Moab was 'discovered', not only by mountain bikers, but by all types of outdoor recreationists. Since then, trails have suffered, but they will recover again when the price of oil prohibits motorized recreation, with the exception of scratches on the rocks. Ever notice the Caterpillar marks at the entrance to the Slickrock trail? These were the result of a practice called chaining, where BLM would drive two bulldozers with a chain stretched between them to obliterate the native vegetation, in an effort to improve livestock forage. These areas may look pristine, but they have been victims of abuse for decades. They can recover, but it takes a long time.

    Unfortunately, in such a huge area, there is no way to have an enforcement presence everywhere all the time. Trails are going to be abused. Educate your friends, and hope they listen.

    Two of the best rides in Moab, Slickrock and the Sovereign Trail, were developed by motorcyclists, for motorcycles. It is a slippery slope to kick Jeeps/motorcycles off trails in favor of mountain bikes, since there are hikers right behind you who want mountain bikes off of YOUR favorite trail. Don't go there. There have already been significant areas of slickrock taken off the mountain bike table north of Moab. Hidden Valley is also a target. The 24hrs of Moab course is a target. There is a small but vocal group in Moab who would like to ban ALL wheeled uses, period. Some, would like to ban all USES, period.

    With all that said, the saddest trail damage I've seen in Moab was the National Park Service cutting steps in the rock at Delicate Arch and rock cutting and hauling in tons of oddly colored non-native rock to build a freaking suburban style hiking path at the Windows. These are things that are permanent, as in they will be there for thousands of years.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by honkinunit
    There has been trail damage at all levels in the Moab area. Jeeps, motorcycles, ATVs, mountain bikes, hikers, dogs. Take a hike at Negro Bill Canyon. There is much more damage there than there was fifteen years ago, and it is all foot/dog traffic. Some people just don't know how to act, regardless of their travel mode.

    If there is a marked trail of any type in Moab, (or any other 'managed' area), it is a sacrifice zone, pure and simple. There are going to be certain numbers of clueless and/or uncaring people no matter what is done to educate them. The difference, of course, is that a bozo on an ATV can do a lot more damage in a short amount of time than a hiker.

    All or parts of most of the popular trails in Moab (including Flat Pass) started as mining/ranching/pipeline roads cut by D9 Cats and the like. They were abandoned in the 60's and 70's, then recovered to what people remember them to be 15 or 20 years ago.

    Starting in the late 80's, Moab was 'discovered', not only by mountain bikers, but by all types of outdoor recreationists. Since then, trails have suffered, but they will recover again when the price of oil prohibits motorized recreation, with the exception of scratches on the rocks. Ever notice the Caterpillar marks at the entrance to the Slickrock trail? These were the result of a practice called chaining, where BLM would drive two bulldozers with a chain stretched between them to obliterate the native vegetation, in an effort to improve livestock forage. These areas may look pristine, but they have been victims of abuse for decades. They can recover, but it takes a long time.

    Unfortunately, in such a huge area, there is no way to have an enforcement presence everywhere all the time. Trails are going to be abused. Educate your friends, and hope they listen.

    Two of the best rides in Moab, Slickrock and the Sovereign Trail, were developed by motorcyclists, for motorcycles. It is a slippery slope to kick Jeeps/motorcycles off trails in favor of mountain bikes, since there are hikers right behind you who want mountain bikes off of YOUR favorite trail. Don't go there. There have already been significant areas of slickrock taken off the mountain bike table north of Moab. Hidden Valley is also a target. The 24hrs of Moab course is a target. There is a small but vocal group in Moab who would like to ban ALL wheeled uses, period. Some, would like to ban all USES, period.

    With all that said, the saddest trail damage I've seen in Moab was the National Park Service cutting steps in the rock at Delicate Arch and rock cutting and hauling in tons of oddly colored non-native rock to build a freaking suburban style hiking path at the Windows. These are things that are permanent, as in they will be there for thousands of years.
    Very well stated.

    I work with a group of motorized users here in northern utah to keep trails and roads open to them not because I am a motorized user of any kind but because I know as does Honkinunit that "It is a slippery slope to kick Jeeps/motorcycles off trails in favor of mountain bikes, since there are hikers right behind you who want mountain bikes off of YOUR favorite trail. Don't go there"
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