Letter to the Editor: Factory Butte - endangered cactus endangered access
The recent emergency closure of the Factory Butte area illustrates everything that is wrong with the Endangered Species Act and the federal land management agencies. Armed with little more than a burning agenda to pour another 200,000 acres into the grinding teeth of the wilderness machine the BLM slammed the door in the faces of thousands of Utah families who have been recreating in this splendid area for generations.
The Sept. 19 coup culminated a decade of attacks on this area by rich and powerful groups of radical environmentalists designed to exterminate traditional motorized recreation. Three times they tried and three times they failed, the most recent being a petition for emergency closure based on resource damage.
A final opportunity to take the land away using ordinary channels was through the RMP revision process currently underway. But this allows for public input and it becoming abundantly clear that their bogus plan was going nowhere.
So they decided to launch the nuclear option of land management and the BLM was all too happy to oblige. Just find an "endangered" insect or weed that might inhabit the area, have the bureaucrats conduct a hasty and flawed survey, make the common but unsupported assumption that motorized recreation is harmful, and presto: the land is closed. No need to follow NEPA, no need to worry about economic devastation, and no need to care about the displaced people.
When briefly shown the super secret map of the cactus survey about a week and a half before the closure was published, I was amazed to see that none were found for miles around Factory Butte, yet this most popular recreation area is now totally closed. I was further impressed by the fact that many of the largest cactus communities seemed to be associated with vehicle travel ways---as though some degree of soil disturbance favored their growth.
The BLM has established no connection between motorized recreation and damage to the cactus communities. Furthermore it doesn't even know how many exist in the surrounding areas or even if they're really endangered. Many people feel that the Wright's Fish Hook cactus was erroneously listed on the basis of bad data. But none of this is important because the dominant agenda is to remove the people who recreate on vehicles to prepare the land for future wilderness designation. With the stroke of a pen and with no regard for the people of Utah, now living and yet unborn, a lone bureaucrat, enriched by the hard earned taxes of all Americans, added another 200,000 acres to the King's Forest.