Recapture Wash


Sometime during 2005, an unauthorized system of all-terrain vehicle trails was constructed in Recapture Wash, a canyon managed by BLM on the outskirts of the southeastern Utah town of Blanding. At least twelve prehistoric archaeological sites were directly damaged by the trail system's construction and the ATV use that followed, including nine sites eligible for listing in the National Register that exceed one acre in size. Archaeologists believe that one of these sites, known as the "Recapture Great House," was a multi-story pueblo and community period during the Pueblo III period (A.D. 1150 to 1285). Attorneys from the National Trust's law department visited Recapture Wash and several of the damaged sites in March 2007. Two months later, the National Trust requested that BLM close the canyon to motorized use in a letter to the Utah State Director. BLM did so in September 2007 but only on a temporary basis. While the National Trust continues to support the closure, the situation in Recapture Wash remains unresolved. A proposal currently under evaluation by BLM's Monticello Field Office would grant San Juan County, Utah a property interest—a right-of-way under Title V of the Federal Land Policy and Management Act—in the unauthorized system of ATV trails. Further, a separate proposal by BLM in a recently released draft resource management plan for the Monticello Field Office would reopen portions of the unauthorized system of ATV trails to motorized use.