Agreeing on Access?
|Bott Lane is one of the roads where a decision to allow ATV access or not allow access cannot be reached.|
Which county roads should be open for ATV access and which shall be closed? This is the question the public lands access management subcommittee has been addressing for the past year and a half. They meet monthly to try to come to agreement and understanding of the concerns of committee members. Committee members consist of the public lands department, ATV users, city officials, law enforcement and other interested parties.
Committee Chairman Ray Petersen began by distributing copies of the proposed ordinance. The committee introduced several wording changes that will be made. When the final draft of the ordinance is complete, it will be handed to a committee that will consider the legal and safety ramifications.
There are several roads still in contention with no agreement in sight. Those roads are Bott Lane in Castle Dale, Ferron Canyon Road to the forest service boundary, and Buckhorn Draw road from the junction to Swinging Bridge. The committee has discussed these roads at every meeting and had come to no consensus on them.
The roads that have been tentatively approved to be open at this time are connector roads. These roads connect BLM trails or forest service roads to the cities via county roads. The portions that are being considered by this committee are only the county road portion of the connectors.
Bott Lane in Castle Dale was the first of the nonconsensus roads discussed. Petersen stated that this Class B county road has the highest volume of traffic of any county road in Emery County. There is an estimated 1,700 cars pass over this road on a daily basis. For this reason, two of the committee members are adamant that this road be closed to ATV traffic.
Buckhorn Draw road is controversial because of the high volume of full sized vehicle traffic at relatively high speeds and the number of ATVs that also travel on that road. Petersen noted that the speed limit for rural Utah is 25 miles per hour where it is not posted. Most of the traffic in the Draw travel at greater speeds than is prudent. For this reason, the committee cannot agree to open the road as an ATV route.
The Ferron Canyon road is also in contention for similar reasons. Although the speed limit is 25-35 miles per hour on this road, there is a high volume of traffic and the road is paved. There are some considerations of alternate routes to the forest service boundary, though none of those would eliminate the portion around Millsite Reservoir.
At the meeting, several other roads that have been in contention, were agreed upon. The members of this subcommittee hope to have some agreement by the next meeting that can be taken to the commissioners for approval. The commissioners will then send this committee's finding to a legality and safety committee before any public hearings are held. When the ordinance and road plan have passed through those committees, it will then move to the public hearing stage.
The next meeting will be held May 6 at 7 p.m. in the Emery County Building.