Utah’s ATV Wars Put Greens and Gas Guzzlers on a Collision Course

Fans and enthusiasts of all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) are at war with environmentalists in Utah. And the National Park Service is in the middle of all of it.

This battle has been going on across the state for more than a decade, and it’s flared up in plenty of places in Utah, especially the hotspot ATV hub of Moab. But in 2018 the battle took a new turn when the National Park Service (NPS) decided to open up several existing trails in Glen Canyon National Recreation Area for the use of off-highway vehicles (OHV), a category of off-road-capable vehicles that includes 4x4s, Jeeps, Side by Sides, and ATVs.

Then, in September 2019, the federal government went a step further and moved to open up all of Utah’s national parks to OHVs in order to align with Utah state law, which allows street-legal OHVs on roads throughout the state. However, a month later, the feds reversed course, deciding to keep national parks in the state OHV-free.

There was one big exception to the ban: Glen Canyon remains one of 12 national park units, of which there are 398, open to OHVs. Perhaps this was because it is a national recreation area, or perhaps it was because the NPS had opened up the area before this move by the federal government.

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