The Grand County Commission voted unanimously Tuesday, Nov. 16 to send a letter to the Bureau of Land Management, the land manager for much of Mill Creek Canyon, asking it to carefully consider a variety of new management options for the area.
The letter stands in contrast to the letter the Moab City Council agreed last week to send on the same issue. The city’s letter specifically endorsed a plan created by the Mill Creek Community Collaborative, a plan roughly three years in the making. County commissioners said Tuesday they did not want to endorse any specific plan, just ask that the bureau consider the available options.
The county’s letter mainly asks the bureau to consider the Mill Creek Community Collaborative’s recommendations. The collaborative adopted its recommendations this summer by consensus, with a majority of the 21 members voting in favor of all the recommendations and three members objecting to some of them.
Among the loudest voices of dissent since the collaborative’s vote on the recommendations has been Sara Melnicoff, the executive director of Moab Solutions. She worked with environmentalist nonprofit Living Rivers and others to develop their own plan, known as A+. The county commission asked the bureau in its letter approved Tuesday to consider the plan.
A draft of the commission’s letter asked the bureau to consider closing the off-roading feature of Potato Salad Hill as part of studying the impacts of moving the main parking area from the end of Powerhouse Lane across the creek. Commissioners later decided to remove that part from the letter to avoid antagonizing off-roading enthusiasts who enjoy taking on the feature.
Other considerations the commission asked the bureau to wigh was restricting horse riding to designated trails, closing some of the trails in the middle country, and removing bicycles from the Mill Creek Rim Trail.
With letters from both the city and the county now in hand, the Bureau of Land Management is now set to drive the process for developing a new management plan for Mill Creek Canyon. A spokesperson for the bureau’s Moab Field Office was not immediately available to provide a timeline for next steps.