Sunday, September 22, 2002
Off-roading in the Killpecker Sand Dunes
An OHV enthusiast rides on the Killpecker Sand Dunes, in the Red Desert
Courtesy Bureau of Land Management, Wyoming State Office
Team North takes one last detour from the Green River before they head into the Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area. Today they return to the same area they visited yesterday-- the Jack Morrow Hills in the Red Desert. Instead of visiting the sites of the past, they'll visit the site of a current issue-- OHV use in the Killpecker Sand Dunes Area of Critical Environmental Concern.
The Greater Sand Dunes are part of the larger Killpecker
dune field, the largest active dune field in North America. The
Killpecker dune field encompasses approximately 109,000
acres, extending 55 miles east from the Green River Basin
across the Continental Divide into the Great Divide Basin.
Although OHV use is prohibited or limited to existing roads & trails in the Jack Morrow Hills, about 10,000 acres of the Killpecker dunes is open to unrestricted use by ATVs, dune buggies, dirt bikes, and any other motorized vehicle which can traverse the sandy hills. About 3200 ATV users visit the dunes every year, and this number appears to be increasing. Unfortunately, some ATV users are not respecting the boundaries of the open area, and are damaging natural and cultural resources, particularly in the riparian zone near historic Crookston Ranch, just south of the parking lot. The BLM is looking at various plans to accomodate motorized recreationists in the Jack Morrow Hills while protecting fragile ecosystems and irreplaceable historic resources.