The Moab and Monticello field offices of the United States Bureau of Land Management have announced approval of the Red Rock 4-Wheelers five-year permit for Jeep Safari.
The nine-day long event for 2006 is scheduled to run from April 8 to April 16, culminating on Easter Sunday.
In addition, the permit authorizes a significantly smaller event in the fall that includes a camp out and the issuance of organized group and commercial permits for the use of the same routes.
The BLM received more than 2,000 comments on the environmental assessment, primarily in favor of renewing the permit without major modification.
As a result of comments from the general public and other agencies, some modifications were made to the permit, pointed out the BLM officials.
The Arch Canyon route in the Monticello field office will be limited to the first four miles, rather than the entire length of eight miles.
In the Moab area, the narrows sections of Onion Creek has been removed from the traditional Onion Creek route.
All of the approved Jeep Safari routes are part of the existing road system in Grand and San Juan counties.
The 31 permitted routes represent a wide range of difficulty to drive, continued the federal agency.
Nearly all of the routes were created as a result of uranium exploration and have been in existence for decades.
"The staffs of both the Monticello and Moab field offices have done a very thorough job of analyzing impacts of this event," said Maggie Wyatt, Moab BLM manager.
Monticello field office manager Sandy Meyers concurred.
"We've coordinated with the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the state historic preservation office, and come up with a solution that will serve the public while protecting the resources and allowing for multiple use," noted Meyers.
The federal agency considered the options of renewing the permit unchanged, selecting a reduced number of routes and taking no action, indicated the BLM officials.
Although some environmental groups recommended the permit be issued for only one year at a time, the BLM saw no reason to deviate from its policy of issuing multi-year permits to groups or businesses that have a proven record of compliance.
"The Red Rock 4-Wheelers are very conscientious and work hard to educate enthusiasts outside of their group," pointed out Wyatt. "We also have the ability to make any needed changes to the permit as we authorize the event each year."
Although the Jeep Safari event is an important activity to local businesses, the event represents a small portion of the use of the public lands during Easter and other spring breaks for schools in Utah and Colorado, according to the federal agency.
Carbon County residents with Internet access may review copies of the record of decision and the final environmental assessment by visiting the federal agency's website at www.blm.gov/utah/moab.
Local residents may also request hard copies of the record of decision and final environmental assessment by contacting the BLM field offices in Moab and Monticello