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Public Lands in Utah Protected from Off-Road Vehicle Destruction

Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument is a wilderness and recreation area in southern Utah spanning canyons and desert and a dramatic sequence of sedimentary rock layers known as the "Grand Staircase."

But designating a natural area as protected doesn't always ensure its protection. Starting in 2003, Kane County, Utah ripped out signs intended to protect old trails, streambeds, and cow paths from damage by off-road (ORV) and other vehicles. The county also attempted to buck federal authority by placing its own signs inviting ORV use in the very same places the Bureau of Land Management had prohibited it.

In court, the county claimed it owns the routes under a Civil War-era law. But Earthjustice helped point out that, according to the U.S. Constitution, federal law supersedes local or state laws where the two conflict. The court agreed and resoundingly rejected the county's attempt to take the law into its own hands. Now when a driver encounters a sign prohibiting ORV use in Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument, we can rest assured that there are no mixed signals.