ATV Troubles on the Manti-lasal Forest
|Responsible ATV riders like these from the Arapeen ATV jamboree are part of the solution to ATV abuse.|
Mesia Nyman, Ferron district ranger for the forest service reported to the Emery County Public Lands Council at the September meeting. "The number of user created trails compounds every year. The complaints on ATVs are increasing. We appreciate responsible use and the volunteer work that organized ATV groups provide. But, there is a faction that ignores all maps and rules. The problem is we don't have the manpower or the money to address the issue."
Council member vice-chairman Vernell Rowley commented on the routes and trails the forest service has made available to ATV riders in the Huntington Canyon to Joe's Valley area and how nice they are. But, even with designated routes and trails abounding, the illegal use is everywhere and all over the mountains.
Public lands director, Ray Petersen was interested in the number of citations that have been issued. Nyman said she has been in contact with the enforcement officer, Don Riddle, but doesn't have an exact count on citations. She knew specifically of an incident involving mud bogging where several citations were issued. The fines for those offenses will include damage and restitution.
Petersen wondered if stiffer penalities would aid in compliance with ATV rules and regulations.
Emery County Commissioner Gary Kofford said he thought writing more tickets might be one of the only ways of controlling the ATV damage. He said a lot of the users of the mountain are from the Sanpete side. Nyman said they are at the point of wondering how much opportunity is enough opportunity in light of all the illegal use. Not just ATV use, but other uses of the forest as well.
One council member wondered if some areas should be closed for camping with ATVs. Others seemed to think it isn't the camping that's the problem. People can camp anywhere and access all areas of the mountain, sometimes traveling 50-100 miles a day on their ATVs.
Nyman said, "We are open to ideas on how to deal with this issue, ideas are needed and appreciated."
Economic development director, Mike McCandless said with the Piute trail, Sevier County has taken over their annual jamboree so they can have more control of where the ATV usage occurs.
Nyman said she believes that education is the key. A generation of ATV abusers leads to the generation coming up abusing trails and creating trails in the same manner. Hunters on ATVs are also a real problem when it comes to off trail use and the hunting seasons are going on now and throughout the fall months with the deer and elk hunts.
Division of Wildlife Resources southeastern director, Derris Jones said their law enforcement officers give violations for off road/trail use and also helmet violations. They have concentrated their efforts in the Fish Creek area and have seen good results there.
Other solutions mentioned included possible forfeiture of hunting privileges for ATV infractions and stiffer fines for ATV misuse.
In other forest service news, Nyman said the Jungle has been burning for about a month now and has blackened 350 acres and done some good. They are putting some more fire in that area to keep it burning longer. The Wrigley Hill fire use plan just east of Jungle has been burning for three weeks. The Engineer fire is out.
A few energy projects are going on. Dominion has started design and engineer work. Sufco is drilling in the Pines area doing hydrological studies on springs in the area. XTO is working on a surface use plan in the DesBeeDove area. The fan pad for the Rilda Canyon project is half completed and the installation of the fan is scheduled for November.
Nyman said they have two cabins left at Skyhaven and they can be purchased for $1 and need to be removed. Sept. 19 they will have a cleanup of the Skyhaven area.