This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2010, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Environmentalists seeking greater protections on Utah's public lands have widened their legal complaints against regional plans written in 2008 by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management.
Already in court challenging plans crafted by the agency's Moab, Vernal and Price offices, environmental groups last week filed suit in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., with the same complaints against plans for the Monticello, Kanab and Richfield areas.
The groups, including the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance (SUWA), assert that the BLM violated federal environmental laws by failing to identify and protect areas that have wilderness qualities and could qualify for congressional designation for permanent protection.
The plaintiffs also say the BLM ignored a federal regulation when it created thousands of miles of off-road motorized paths without studying the effects on wilderness or other resources.
BLM Utah spokesman Mitch Snow said the agency could not comment on litigation.
The BLM stopped taking inventory of possible new wilderness areas during the Bush administration as part of a court agreement between then Interior Secretary Gale Norton and then Gov. Mike Leavitt.
The lawsuit covering the first three area plans continues to undergo some wrangling over location, with the state intervening and asking that it be heard in Utah. SUWA Associate Director Heidi McIntosh said environmentalists filed in Washington because that's where the Interior Department approved the plans.
The plaintiffs include SUWA, The Wilderness Society, National Parks Conservation Association, Grand Canyon Trust, Sierra Club, Center for Native Ecosystems, Utah Rivers Council and Great Old Broads for Wilderness.