Riding the Paiute
|These ATV riders are on the Paiute Trail which spans four counties.|
On the evening of May 27, Stan Adams from the Richfield field office of the Bureau of Land Management gave a power point presentation to a group of interested Emery County residents. Jo Sansevero, Ferron city councilperson, invited Adams to give the presentation as an information gathering session for all the citizens of the County to discover how the Paiute Trail System is working.
Adams has been involved with the Paiute Trail System for many years and has served on the trail committee for that system. Many aspects of the county were represented at this program. Emery County Commissioners Drew Sitterud and Gary Kofford, Emery County public lands director Ray Petersen, many business owners, ATV club members, Emery Mayor Michael Williams and councilmembers from the cities around the county and representatives from the Price BLM office were in attendance.
This presentation is a demonstration of how the Paiute Trail System began and has matured and grown over the past 14 years. In 1989, two Sevier County residents were contemplating the effects of the looming road closures on the mountains and the limited access that seemed inevitable. They came up with the idea of a trail system through which the government agencies involved could maintain control over the access, yet protect the resource. This plan would also allow recreationists, hunters and outdoor enthusiasts to continue to enjoy the mountains and trails.
Through a working partnership with all agencies and users groups involved, the Paiute Trail System has evolved into a win-win situation for all the participants in a four county area. This trail involves 16 communities, four counties, several local and federal government agencies, local businesspeople and the general population.
The main trail of the system is 238 miles long. With the interconnected trails of the Great Western Trail, the Fremont Trail, the Paunsaugaunt Trail, the Pinchot Trail and the Arapeen Trail, the Paiute has access to over 2,500 miles of trails. It is considered to be the largest interconnected, motorized trail system in the country. Users of the trail also have access to three state parks, Fremont Indian, Otter Creek and Piute State Parks.
From a management standpoint, the forest service and the BLM control and monitor the trail and the environmental aspects and are at liberty to close trails and open others. Riders understand that if there is a threat to the resource, that threat must be eliminated or reduced. Quality and quantity of trails is the most important aspect for the users and a well managed trail system can provide both.
For the businesspeople along the trail system, the tourism and visitors to the trails have increased the revenue to the local businesses. The average trail user spends $110 per day per person in the area for food, lodging, gas and supplies. The Paiute Trail counted 60,000 riders during the 2002 season. During the six day long 2002 Rocky Mountain Jamboree, centered in Richfield, the influx was $382,140 to the community.
Although 80 percent of the users are ATV riders, horsemen, hikers, and mountain bikers also use the system. When the Rocky Mountain Jamboree began in 1992, it began a cycle of introducing outdoor enthusiasts to the area and many businesses have sprung up along the system. In 1992, Marysvale had only eight businesses, today it has 21. These business owners report that tourism and this trail system has opened the doors to this area as a year round destination.
Adams went on to explain that with growth, there are also problems. Of the 60,000 users of the trail system in 2002, there were 10 complaints filed. There is also some vandalism of signs along the routes. He explained that a big key to the success of the Paiute Trail System is the volunteers and workers who constantly clean up, maintain and monitor the system.
The Paiute Trail System is dynamic and changing, so the governing committee and all involved need to take an active roll in its management.
Over the few years since its inception, the trail system has: reduced off trail travel approximately 80 percent; provided the ability to successfully close some areas; provided a quantity and quality place to ride; reduced the impact to the environment; and brought great economic value to the communities involved.