Ongoing lessons found in the parks
The Manti-La Sal National Forest allows OHV use on forest roads. This mixed traffic use has been determined to be appropriate through various planning decisions.
For the past few years I have been working to connect OHV use on the forest with communities and with the San Rafael. I have visited with towns and urged them to designate OHV routes. I now urge the county to complete the connections. Without the county road connections all other efforts become void.
Connecting public land with local communities is important socially and economically. I know residents who ride OHVs from their homes in Ferron over the mountain to Manti, eat dinner, buy gas, and stay overnight, then ride home the next day. I predict this type of destination OHV riding will increase if given the opportunity. Other economic possibilities are all-season rental businesses, OHV events, and businesses to support OHV riders such as motels and restaurants.
Connecting forest land with BLM land promotes continuity of management and provides customers with a variety of recreational experiences. This in turn attracts customers to the area.
The BLM envisions OHV routes that not only connect communities with public land, but also routes that connect communities to communities. I applaud this idea. The forest, also would like to be connected with its neighbors. With your stated proposal there is no connection for the forest.
Specifically the forest service would like to see route connections:
1. At Emery with the road in Link Canyon and the road up the Muddy.
2. In Ferron, the Ferron Canyon road should be designated an OHV route. This road has good sight distance in most places and is a two-lane road. Two lane roads tend to be safer, because they keep the traffic in the right lane instead of in the middle of the road. We have traffic counts for the road at the forest boundary. In 2003 the ADT (average daily traffic) was 81 during the week and 130 on the weekend. Counts went down in 2004 to 66 during the week and 102 on the weekend. To give you a basis for comparison, I give you the example of a road on the Bridger-Teton National Forest that averages 300-1000, depending on the day, and mixed traffic is allowed.
3. At Castle Dale and Orangeville, the Bench Road (or a trail adjacent to Bench Road) with connections to each town should be designated. This would tie in with our proposed OHV trail at Des-Bee-Dove.
4. And finally at Huntington, the gravel road that traverses Guymon Wash west of Huntington could connect into a proposed BLM trail that would connect to Des-Bee-Dove.
I know the County is concerned with safety, so is the forest service. We allow mixed use on roads after assessing the safety factors and exploring ways to mitigate. For the Ferron Canyon route we propose that only licensed OHV drivers be allowed on the Ferron Canyon road. This would eliminate those under-aged drivers and mitigate the safety concerns we have in Ferron Canyon.
In summary, the concept of defining our future by creating opportunity is more effective in enhancing economic benefit than is the restricting of opportunity. Opportunity encourages responsibility and is one of our country's honored principles.