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Utah Counties Can't Run Over National Parks

Wide Open Spaces
Kane County, Utah, is home to the incomparable Bryce Canyon and Zion National Parks and the Grand Staircase -- Escalante National Monument. It's also home to some who think that dirt bikes, all-terrain four-wheelers, and other off-highway vehicles (OHVs) should be able to drive over fragile desert landscapes, in streambeds and other areas that have special protection from the Parks and Monument.

A Little Greedy
Not to be deterred, Kane County officials claimed highways over the land using an arcane 19th-century law and passed an ordinance opening it up to OHVs. Never mind that some of the area had been closed by the feds precisely because damage from OHVs was destroying the fragile desert landscape. Conservationists cried foul and Earthjustice stepped in.

You Have to Prove It
Earthjustice pointed out that the law requires you prove you are entitled to the "highways" you are claiming. Kane County felt it didn’t have to, and said so.  But the judge agreed with us, and invited the county to return when it had evidence -- otherwise, the land should remain protected in the hands of all US citizens. UPDATE: In June 2007, a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit filed by Kane and Garfield counties which sought to overrule the previous decision. The Grand Staircase is protected once again.