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Moab Environmental Issues


mountain bike toursMostly Current Moab Environmental News

2010 ~ Atlas Tailings Exposed to the Atmosphere as they are Moved North

At the north of town on the far bank of the Colorado River a company called Energy Solutions is moving the Atlas Mine Tailings to a site west to Thomson only 30 miles away. Should I mention that the tailings are being place over the aquifer that supplies water to the town of Thomson? Naw! What is interesting is that the company hired a spokesperson from the local community to tell us that the radon levels are acceptable in the view of our own government, IF IT IS INSIDE YOUR HOUSE. This means that the levels in the open air around the pile are just under the "acceptable" levels for an enclosed space, say a home on the Front Range near Lyons, Colorado where radium deposits create the highest ground radon levels in the world. Plus, Energy Solutions is using water from directly below the pile to stablize sandy tailings in a truly sad attempt to keep the stuff from blowing in the wind. The water is heavily laden with radon and arcenic, so what we get is concentrated radon vapor (I'll bet their radon testing was done far away from that water) and arcenic particles blowing in the wind. Energy Solutions is a Utah company that is currently doing its best to get every spec of toxic waste sent to Utah so that they can take care of it for a minium of 250,000 years. Can they lie? Biblically.

Here is an incredibly ironic letter to tour outfitters from the Moab Travel Council as of March 8, 2006.

Dear Local Outfitter:

As the Travel Council we are very concerned about what is happening with the Atlas tailings and what our large visitor base will hear about it. We would like to educate the public as much as possible and a recent discussion with Bob Jones confirmed that there would be local outfitters very interested in knowing. So,

On March 23, 2006 the Dept. of Energy will be in Moab to give tours to the local outfitters/guides of what is happening at the Atlas site, what will happen, and how the guides and outfitters can present to clients with questions to make them comfortable. We realize that there could be many stories circulating and it would be nice for those in a position to assure the public of their safety to have the right answers.

The DOE will be giving two tours. Tours will be:
1. 9:30AM
2. 2:00PM
Each tour plus Q&A should take approximately 1 1/2 hours.
Each tour will be limited to 20 persons.
Each tour will cover the interim action well field, the rail spur, the ground water cleanup effort, what is currently happening on the pile, and any questions raised.

If you or your guides are interested in participating in the tour please contact the Travel Council office at 259-1370 or reply via email to this email. The deadline to confirm your participation is March 20, 2006.

This is based on a first come, first serve basis.

Marian DeLay
Executive Director
Moab Area Travel Council
P.O. Box 550
Moab, Utah 84532
Where Adventure Begins

Here is Dreamride owner Lee Bridgers' response to the above letter, in the form of a letter to the editor of the Moab Times Independent:

Dear Times readers,

I just received an email from the Travel Counsel asking me to attend a meeting about the Atlas Tailings pile where outfitters can be fed Department of Energy (DOE) lies to pass on to our clients so Moab will not loose business due to “rumors” the pile is “radioactive” or “dangerous.” Here is my open reply to the council, who, by the way, have done a bang-up job drawing in tons of ATV and 4WD enthusiasts during an energy crisis:

Please take Dreamride off of any literature with the Moab Travel Council’s name on it. At you will find a picture taken by one of our tour clients of the tailings pile during a windstorm. A gigantic shroud of poisonous dust is blowing south over the wetlands and into residential Moab. What stupid organization allowed the pile to be there, allowed the destabilization of the pile, and who has wasted millions of dollars to scrape off what little vegetation there was so that the entire town could get a dose of the heavy metals, toxic chemicals and radiation? This is an example of just how incompetent (and/or evil) the DOE and its contractors truly are. If you think I want to get a tour of the site, you are even more stupid than I had assumed—just as DOE is as evil as it has proven itself to be. I would like a tally of the outfitters that show up so I can laugh even harder at them than I did at your email. I remember the guy in California who drank malathion to show people it was harmless. He died a horrible death over a period of two weeks. Yes, go stand on the pile and get lied to! By all means. DOE—Dumb Or Evil? The Moab Travel Council? Just plain ole stupid.

I will continue to tell our guests the truth of the stupidity, greed, incompetence, waste of money, and dangers of the tailings pile, even after it is on Klondike Flats blowing all over the place where I ride my bike and the city turns the remaining site into an upper class tourist hangout for people who can AFFORD to get cancer.

Lee Bridgers Dreamride


Fallout from a stolen election? After the BLM gave the go-ahead to mining exploration on Dead Horse Point extending past the Gemini Bridges Trail 25 ton trucks with 8 foot tires created a tight grid network of roads all over the beautiful wilderness areas surrounding and on top of Dead Horse Point. These seismic tests turned wildlife habitat above Arth's Pasture and trails branching out from the Gemini Bridges Trails into a miriad of sandy pits. This has made the drive out the Canyonlands National Park an ugly affair. Wherever the trucks were unable to access this mathmatically formulated grid they were permited to knock down rock formations and build permanent roads. Of course they found oil and now everyone on the way to the national park will have to contend with extreme ugliness into the distant future. If you know the area, you know the heavy heart with which I write this. After years of making people mad, scolding them for crushing fragile soil crusts adjacent to the Gemini Bridges Trail, this "George Bush" move just about destroys any respect for the BLM's policies. Sure, there are many who work for the BLM who do their best to fight such madness, but a soldier in the 3rd Reich is a soldier in the 3rd Reich, . . .

On the bright side, the Sand Flats Team must be commended for their work in managing the Sand Flats Area just east of Moab. The somewhat tidy camping areas, signage and pit toilets are a welcome sight, turning the area into a fine example of park-like management. The downside of this is easier access that creates more damage up the road toward Porcupine Rim.

Recently the United States Government put into law certain regulations restricting use of public lands by certain users, including ATV, motorcycle, 4WD and mountain bikes. Mountain bikers lost access to many spurs off of popular trails and some areas are now signed for revegetation. Dreamride supports these efforts, but also realizes that placing signs in front of areas of severe damage does not keep people from riding over areas that are not signed--areas that are pristine or only paritally damaged. Damaged areas require up to 200 years before they revegetate, while areas that are not damaged can be destroyed in a matter of seconds.

mountain bike toursRadioactive Air: Shhhhh . . .

Atlas Mine Tailings This is a picture of the Atlas Mine tailings at the north end of the Moab Valley during a wind storm last year. A company was hired to prepare these uranium tailings to be moved. Instead they just scraped off the protective upper layer and went away leaving rumors of payments of $25,000,000 to the tune of paying phantom workers upwards of $900 an hour on the books. There is a scandal here, but no one seems to care. The result was an unstable pile of radioactive waste blowing around in the wind. Recently the pile was capped with a sealant and reseeded. Want to take a bit of Moab home with you? Breathe deep. You are getting your free radiation treatment. Is anyone interested in sueing the creeps responsible for this mess? Is anyone interested in a Pulitzer Prize for journalism for revealing incompetance of local government and evil deeds done by our federal government within a couple of miles of the city limits of Moab and right on shore of the Colorado River? Arsenic and heavy metals that don't blow away and stick in our lungs, kills the fish, kills the plants, and just floats down stream to poison Lake Powell, Las Vegas, and points west. Bon apetit.

mountain bike toursRecreation is the Culprit

As one person recently said about Jeep Safari in the local Moab newpaper, "What would you do if you invited a guest to your house and he broke all your dishes and crapped in your sink?" This April event has become the single most damaging human factor in the Moab area--an environmental OUTRAGE that must be stopped before it degrades the town's reputation and the beauty that surrounds it to such a point that people are no longer interested in coming here. Each year the damage done by hundreds of redneck Jeepers (not the Safari organizers, by the way, but renegades that attend the event but do not participate in the managed rides), create scars on the landscape, leave mounds of trash and distribute drunken bad vibes all over the desert. We follow beer cans like Hansel and Gretel all the way to their camp spots and get the bird when we ask them to obey the law. Sadly, organizers of the event and land management must shoulder the blame. As of the 2001 season Dreamride guides now carry cameras to record illegal activilties such as the ones documented here. The BLM enforces its new regulations and hopefully next year will see the end of Jeep week. Pictured here is a 4WD vehicle driving onto Bartlett Wash, which is clearly signed and designated as a mountain bike or motorcycle destination only. Pictured also is a child on an ATV doing doughnuts through the cryptobiotic soils next to the poorly maintained Monitor and Merrimac camping area on Mill Canyon Road, on a piece of land clearly marked with a sign that says, "NO TRESSPASSING." It is our belief that ATV's should be banned everywhere in canyon country and that 4WD travel be monitored much more closely to guaratee that these motorized vehicles stay on designated roads ONLY. CLICK HERE FOR AN ARTICLE REFERRING TO JEEP WEEK AND DREAMRIDE, PUBLISHED BY THE "NO STREET JOURNAL" IN DALLAS, TEXAS.
ATV mayhem4WD mayhem
Ecology for Mountain Bikers

A picture speaks a thousand turds.

The picture documents what one tour company, let's call them "FUNBUS.COM", considers a toilet. Taking a crap on our home turf seems to be company policy along with their low-budget tour methods that make us look like the Gods of mountain bike touring. They not only crap at our doorstep, they bring dogs along, too. Locally there have been many complaints to land management about toilet paper surrounding campgrounds and parking lots at trailheads, so we have noticed that the company has recently removed its logos and website from the side of the bus in a pitiful attempt to distance themselves from themselves. The real problem is far more serious than litter or cosmetics. Defecating in the fragile desert ecosystem not only breaks the endangered soil crusts, it puts local wildlife in danger from disease and trauma. An effect documented by the National Park Service is that toilet paper does not biodegrade in desert climates and it eventually finds its way into the digestive tracts of small animals. This has been shown to cause mortality in endangered species. Plastic bags have been found in dead deer guts, plugging up their digestive organs. Feces is NOT endangered. If you gotta go, use the Park Service's advise and bury it at least a foot below the surface, . . . and wipe your ass with a smooth rock or a leaf, or carry your toilet paper out with you. If you want a cheap trip to Canyonlands, avoid companies like "FUNBUS.COM."

UPDATE ON FUNBUS.COM -- They took the logos off of their bus. Obviously, their reputation follows them.

It is bad enough that ignorant individuals use our fragile desert environment as a toilet and waste disposal, but when a company brings in hundreds and organizes toilet activities that show no respect for the ecology, this creates a huge smelly, VISIBLE footprint that mountain bikers in-general take blame for. An example is the 1998 Moab downhill race that ran without toilets at the race staging area. Every time it rained Porcupine Rim smelled like a mixture of pepperoni and rotten Power Bars for months after the race, and toilet paper still blows in the wind up there. Go to 24 HOUR RACING for the worst example of how organized events and uncaring companies impact our sport and our environment.


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