Should the County Pursue Right Of Way on Sitla Land?
Should Emery County pursue a right of way for trails on SITLA land? Mark H. Williams presented the idea of obtaining right of ways for the 27.3 mile poker ride trail near Cedar Mountain and also for a trail above Huntington of 15.9 miles which continues around to the pageant site. Williams talked about legislation which passed in 2004-HB220 which authorized the transfer of $1.50 of each ATV registration fee into a land grant for SITLA lands. This money is to be used by SITLA to improve recreational opportunities on SITLA lands and mitigate impacts from ATV use.
The county could obtain the right of way using the funds set aside and the purchase would be free to the county. The question was raised why the OHV club didn't apply for the right of way and Williams said the club would have to pay for the right of way because the public funds which are available cannot be used for a private entity.
Commissioner Ira Hatch said that if the county were to obtain the right of way then the county is responsible for the maintenance and upkeep on the trail or road. Bryan Torgerson, the SITLA representative said that funds in the past have been used for cattle guards and some maintenance on the road or trail and possibly the fund could help with the maintenance.
Williams said that OHVs are going all over out where the poker ride is held. The OHV club obtains a special permit to use the poker ride twice each year. The club cannot help with signage or help to delineate trails because they do not have a right of way on the trail. For this reason they are asking for the county to obtain the right of way. Williams said if they could mark the trail it would help alleviate some of the problems with OHVs going off the trails.
A right of way would protect in case of a land sale or exchange and would still allow the county to keep that right of way.
Sherrel Ward, lands council member wondered what the down side of obtaining the right of way could be. It was mentioned that it could increase usage on the trails and the county would be liable for maintenance and repairs.
Williams said if the county had the right of way then the OHV club could have the state parks trail cat come down and help build and maintain the trails.
Ray Petersen, public lands director, said the county has a hard time maintaining the roads currently on the county system and adding more could present a problem.
Floyd Johnson from the BLM was asked if the Bureau of Land Management maintains their trails. Johnson answered the BLM doesn't take the time to maintain their trails.
Torgerson mentioned again the fund could help maintain the trail using the OHV funding.
Williams said the OHV club contributed $105,000 for trail maintenance on the forest recently.
Commissioner Drew Sitterud said part of the road at the poker ride is a RS-2477 road and since that portion already belongs to the county an easement is not needed for that portion.
Petersen wondered if SITLA could invest the funds in the trails if they (SITLA) still owned the right of way? Torgerson said he would look into that.
No one currently enforces trespasses on SITLA land, with just a couple of enforcement officers statewide.
Dickson Huntington, public lands council said there is virtually no enforcement on any of the public lands for OHV offenses.
Tory Killian, lands council suggested forming a committee to go over the proposal and look at the advantages and disadvantages to the county obtaining these right of ways.
Commissioner Gary Kofford agreed that the plan has merit and should be looked into and debated. A vote was taken of the council members to see if the council was in favor of forming a committee to look at the question of the county obtaining the right of ways. The vote passed 5-3 to form a committee.