More Utah counties have joined the state in its fight to gain control of thousands of dirt roads in rural Utah.
Thirteen counties filed lawsuits over the past week dealing with land currently in the hands of the federal government, which has closed certain rural routes. The state of Utah and over two-dozen counties are seeking control of over 12,000 routes that “preserve access for Utah families that continue to use the roads they have used for generations,” according to Chief Deputy Attorney General John Swallow.
Environmental groups are siding with the federal government. The Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance and the Sierra Club said the legal battle will cost the state millions in legal fees and lost tourism revenue. The other concern is increased vehicle access to the disputed routes could effect the natural habitat for mule deer and sage grouse, and also could lead to an increase in vandalism and theft at archeological sites.