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[REGIONAL NEWS] BLM considering restrictions on dispersed camping on fragile lands in Utah

Posted by   /  July 5, 2019  /  No Comments

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Lisa Bryant of the federal Bureau of Land Management picks up improperly disposed human waste near a campsite in southern Utah. Damage from off-road vehicles is another problem in remote spaces, she says. /Photo by Nate Hegyi/KUER

By Nate Hegyi | KUER

The scene was picture-perfect for the cover of a nature magazine: purple and yellow wildflowers against a backdrop of red and tan mesas.

But the quiet solitude wouldn’t last long. As the day wore on, the area known as Klondike Bluffs, about 40 miles north of Moab, became crowded with retrofitted vans and mountain bike-toting Subarus, all hunting for the ideal place to camp – for free – for the weekend.

James Gustine and his wife, Jamie, were relaxing in folding chairs as their children played nearby. The Durango, Colorado, family was lucky to have secured a spot that morning, before the throng arrived.

“Camping in Moab is just brutal,” James Gustine said. “Just getting a spot can be full-on competition. It didn’t used to be this way.”

A decade ago, the public lands surrounding Moab were known as a quiet spring break destination for mountain bikers and climbers – the kind of place where a visitor could roll in on a Saturday and not see many people.

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