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The Book Cliffs area spans southern Uintah County and Northern Grand County and beyond into western Colorado. Its boundary is described by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) as “beginning in the northern desert shrub zone at about 5,500 feet in elevation and rises southward to about 8,500 feet in the aspen and fir zones.” The Uintah and Ouray Indian Reservation encompasses its western boundary; outside of that most of its range is managed by the BLM and the Utah State School & Institutional Trust Lands Administration (SITLA). The Book Cliffs area is renowned for its “frontier mystique”, as it is only accessed by rural dirt roads, used for hunting and recreation. It is due to this remote location and limited access that the native wildlife and big game thrive here. The Book Cliffs are valued for the abundance of solitude, undisturbed habitat, and relatively well-preserved archeological sites.
Over the past three decades, the idea of a highway through the Book Cliffs has been widely and thoroughly debated in Grand County. Since it was first proposed in the late 1980s, it has been a major election issue multiple times (most notably in 1992 and 2014), and in all cases the candidates opposed to the Book Cliffs highway have prevailed. Thus, the ideas that (1) the Book Cliffs should be managed for conservation purposes and (2) construction of a paved north-south corridor through the Book Cliffs ought not to be allowed are perhaps the most well-supported policy positions in Grand County.
The historic controversy over the Book Cliffs Highway has revealed over and over that Grand County citizens share common values tied to the Book Cliffs area. And while the land itself is not directly managed by the County, it is best practice to plan for all areas within the County and work with the respective land management agencies to coordinate efforts for a shared vision. For this reason, County Officials deemed it important to establish a small area plan for the Book Cliffs area within Grand County. This plan is an amendment to the 2012 General Plan and is an appendix of the General Plan 2030 (Update), adopted in the spring of 2022.
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