UTAH/ARIZONA, Jan. 12, 2020 (Gephardt Daily) — The Bureau of Land Management announced it has approved a proposal to expand visitor access to the geologic feature known as the Wave near the Utah-Arizona border.
The feature is located in the Paria Canyon–Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness, said a news release from the BLM.
Under the new decision, the number of hiking permits issued for the Wave will increase from 20 to 64 people and/or 16 groups per day, whichever comes first, the news release said. The BLM could implement further increases or decreases in the future based on monitoring of resources and social conditions.
“The stunning beauty of the Wave is part of every American’s public lands heritage, and we’re honored to protect and manage it for generations to come,” said Deputy Secretary for the U.S. Department of the Interior Kate MacGregor.
“This effort provides for additional safety for visitors, access to our nation’s veterans, and ensures that in times like the COVID-19 pandemic, the American people have expanded access to recreational opportunities on their public lands.”
Public interest in the Wave has grown exponentially in recent years, the news release said. In 2018, more than 200,000 individuals applied for the 7,300 hiking permits available annually to access the site. With only 20 people allowed each day through both the online and walk-in lotteries, only 3.6 percent of applicants were able to obtain a permit to access the Wave. This prompted the BLM to explore options for expanding visitor access in a manner that protects the character of the site and its unique natural features.
“We look forward to continuing our partnership with the Arizona Strip District on all aspects of the Paria Canyon–Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness and Wave management,” said BLM Utah State Director Greg Sheehan. “The Kanab Field Office will continue to run the next day lottery in an efficient and respectful manner. This decision provides additional safety for visitors and will hopefully decrease the workload on Kane County’s already-busy search and rescue personnel.”
Kane County Sheriff Tracy Glover added: “The Kane County Sheriff’s Office has been working closely with our federal partners at the Bureau of Land Management to improve the safety of visitors at the Wave. As visitation and interest has dramatically increased, the permit process has become more complex. We appreciate the leadership shown by the BLM on this safety issue. Improving the safety and overall experience of visitors here is clearly a shared priority. As the Kane County Sheriff, I feel very fortunate to have such a positive cooperative relationship with the Bureau of Land Management. We share a sincere love of public lands and a responsibility to those that visit.”
The BLM’s Final Environmental Assessment and Decision Record approving the change are posted on its ePlanning website here. Learn more about visiting the Wave or the online permit system the BLM website here.