Letter to the Editor: Wild lands, nature can touch the soul
A quote in the Deseret Morning News in the religion section, "Wild lands, nature can touch the soul." For a long time now, I have given a lot of thought about the US Forest Service decision to close the Spoon Creek Valley just above the "sanitized" camping area of Indian Creek Campground. This came as a big shock and extreme sadness. All of my life, my family has camped in the Spoon Creek Valley. It's beautiful when the flowers are blooming in the spring.
I have many pictures I have taken just of the flowers and green habitat along Spoon Creek. Flowers of every type and color spread magnificently throughout the valley. We have pictures of purple flowers covering the valley and hillsides that are just a wonder. Not any more, they are trampled by cows. Cows that trample vegetation, the wetlands, and the stream banks.
The reason for the closing of Spoon Creek was just a guise for adding the cows to graze and destroy all that is beautiful about the valley. Cows don't enhance the beauty, they destroy it. Becoming one with nature, as the forest supervisor suggests, is hard to do under these circumstances.
In my day in Upper Spoon Creek there were many 4-H campouts. The forest service, with their insight on managing that area, felled all the larger quakies in that beautiful place. Replaced by large, ugly stumps that were left to beautify this once beautiful area. There has been no significant regrowth in what was once a serene, soul food type area.
Many, many families from the local area used this place to replenish and refresh themselves. This valley was a haven to us when we needed to refresh our souls from the demands of life. It was breathtaking to look downward through Upper Joe's Valley pastures. It was beautiful to see a "moon bow" across the valley one night just as a full moon rose over the East side of the mountains and shone through a slight drizzle of rain. There were many witnesses to this phenomenon. As impossible as it sounds, this did happen.
During our experiences in Spoon Creek, we had the excitement and pleasure of seeing elk graze and romp as they came down to the stream to drink towards evening. We have had deer wander next to and through our camp, which is always exciting to us and our children and grandchildren. This experience will now be denied to our future generations, thanks to the management of our forests by the Manti-LaSal National Forest. We can't even drive up Spoon Creek Valley now because of a blockade.
I have to ask. How much time have the administrators of this land actually connected with it? These administrators come in from areas outside our local area and have not formed the love and care for the land they are managing for the future. I have found the management of it all seems to cause managers to lose touch with what they are supposed to be making more beautiful. They get the mind set that they have to protect the forest from the very people who need the forests for times away from the demands and pressures of everyday life.
Yes, the forests need protection from abuse. But I will tell you, there has never been abuse to that beautiful valley by anyone as much as the forest service has done. It was a shock to go up to our little valley one spring and find that quakies by the hundreds has again been felled. Large slag piles were everywhere. What a blight. What a heartache. Many camping areas are now ruined by the lack of trees to camp near so as to connect with nature.
It really struck an ironic chord when a message was left posted on the road block in front of the road that you need to travel to go up Spoon Creek. The reason stated was "some campers were threatening the wet meadows." In all the years we had camped in Spoon Creek, no one ever damaged the wet meadows. Campers had always camped on the east side of the road. Who would camp in the wetlands?
But so many camping areas have been destroyed by the felling of the trees on the east side that it left campers searching for places to substitute for the areas they had been camping in. Now, campers are camping in new places that have never been disturbed before. I would say this problem was brought about by the forest service, and even more ironic is what they did after they closed the road into the valley. They upped the number of cows by many, many more that were allowed to graze, damage and destroy the wetlands. Cows do more damage to the wetlands of Spoon Creek than any camper could even conceive of.
The road into Spoon Creek has now been reduced to dust and has been destroyed by the constant trampling of cows across it to get to the stream for water. Access was left open to 4-wheelers. The dust was so great, it was choking and the smell from all those cows made the air putrid. I would challenge any water purification tests to show that cows haven't now seriously upped the impurities with their feces and urine. This little stream has been seriously compromised. The air is very smelly from the stench of cows.
This is not what I call management of this beautiful valley. I would say it was a way the forest supervisor used to justify the added numbers of cows put in the valley. Cows will always destroy more than campers could even think of.
The only two areas left to camp in were overrun by cows. The camping areas have been overwhelmed with cow feces and urine and, adding insult to injury, they tramped through our camp all night long, leaving even more of their impurities.
It was rather funny to read the forest service's article in our local paper stating that people should look for places to camp with vegetation. The US Forest Service Ferron District Ranger stated "we encourage people to be responsible, because when people are responsible, we don't have to regulate as much." Just joking on their part of course. Who regulates the so-called prescribed burns that it seems more often than not get out of control, again destroying more forest than any camper can.
It seems to me it is time for the public to start to speak out. Let the forest service know how we feel about what they do in the name of preserving our forests. The way they preserve it means shutting down every place to camp, except what they deem OK to them. No thought or credit is given to the way locals had managed to respect and preserve them for ages before they came on the scene and upped their control of everything.
The locals love this land too. Trust them a little. They want their forests to be passed down to their children and grandchildren so they can experience the same wonder that we have been able to, up until now. My kids and grandkids will never be able to experience the beauty of Spoon Creek. They will now experience the stench of cows and trampled wetlands and unsanitary waters that flow in the stream.
They won't be able to see elk come into the valley to graze. They won't be able to camp under the trees that help you connect with nature or see deer roaming through their camp area. Thanks forest service. Your care and management of the land is doing much more harm than good. Your judgment should be challenged by all of us.
If anyone else feels the same way about his, call me 435-748-2715 or the forest service at 435-637-2817.