With 40 kids per classroom and no money for schools, the State of Utah has now bet millions of taxpayer dollars on litigating title to nearly 19,000 remote dirt roads, 16,594 of which have never been maintained or constructed. These routes, defined by Utah statute as Class D “roads,” are usually streambeds, wash bottoms, two-tracks, abandoned seismic lines or other rough trails, are sometimes difficult to find on the ground and some are downright dangerous to drive. They are often adopted by ORV users who then create spiderwebs of new routes and wreak havoc on pristine and sensitive desert landscapes. They are a management nightmare.
Class B roads, on the other hand, are generally wide, graded dirt roads. There’s no controversy about their use (although disputes about their width and surface have arisen). BLM hasn’t tried to close them down, and neither have we. Even if the State were to succeed in the lawsuit for the Class Bs, it would change nothing, other than depleting the state coffers.
But this isn’t really about roads. It’s Utah’s wasteful, ideologically-driven attempt to undermine protection of spectacularly scenic federal public lands, including wilderness study areas, proposed wilderness areas, national parks and other natural gems.
The state’s press release touting its filing a “notice of intent to sue” with the Interior Department can be found here. Federal law requires would-be plaintiffs suing the federal government to provide it 180-days notice before filing their lawsuit.