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County concerned about roads, trails and camping (Read 746 times)

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County concerned about roads, trails and camping
10/20/05 at 01:46:01
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Tuesday, October 18, 2005 3:48 PM MDT
Associate Editor

With the elk hunt in full swing and the deer hunt on the horizon, a lot of people are thinking about their favorite nooks in the Fishlake National Forest to camp. However, some people are concerned that a proposed action by the U.S. Forest Service may close off some traditional places to set up camp or have a picnic.

The Sevier County Commission met with representatives of the Southern Utah OHV Club Monday to discuss a U.S. Forest Service plan to close some 384 miles of trails.

We understand that it needs limited access, said Jerry Larsen, SUOHV club president. We just don't want to lose any of our trails.

Larsen said the Forest Service's current proposal will close dozens of spurs off of the Paiute ATV Trail. While on a map, the spurs don't appear to go anywhere, Larsen said that most of them lead into scenic outlooks or traditional camping grounds. He said while the OHV club generally supports limited access, it doesn't abide with the reasoning that every single trail needs a compelling purpose to be open.

They have to give enough open trails that you don't feel the urge to just zip off, Larsen said. He said the alternative the Forest Service is proposing limits all camping to within 150 feet of the road or trail, which would be fine except for the closure of spurs that lead to camping areas.

This will change how people use and enjoy the forest, said Ralph Okerlund, Sevier County commissioner. He said that the county didn't receive maps detailing the closures until recently. We would like to ask the Forest Service for some time to digest this ... the public hasn't had a chance to comment on specific closures.

They did publish the map, but the color they used for the closures didn't show up, said Gary Mason, Sevier County commission member. It was difficult to read and unclear. He said the OHV club asked for the color to be changed, and once it was, the problem became apparent.

Even though the official public comment period is over for the OHV route designation project, the Forest Service will still consider specific comments.

There is still a dense network of roads that will be open, said Dale Deiter, team leader on the OHV route designation project for the forest. There are over 2,700 dispersed campsites in our plan.

Deiter said while the inventory of campsites doesn't take every campsite into consideration, it is quite extensive. Deiter said that the Forest Service can still use specific comments on trails or spurs that are lined up to be closed.
At this point, they will still be helpful, said Deiter.

We will still be working with the state of Utah and counties to help them understand the travel plan, said Mary Erickson, Fishlake National Forest supervisor. I encourage people to come in and take a look at the maps.

She said the key to making the route designation work is commentary on specific trails. She said the Forest Service received approximately 50 different comments during the public comment period on the route designation plan. The public comment period expired Sept. 19.

The maps are available for public view at the Fishlake National Forest office, 115 East 900 North in Richfield.

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