|Gearing up and taking off for a ride, wearing a helmet is the first step to a safe ride.|
The Emery County Commissioners met with local ATV enthusiasts in a special meeting recently. Commissioners Gary Kofford and Drew Sitterud were present, also present was Public Lands Director Ray Petersen.
This meeting was held at the request of the ATV community to meet with the commissioners and present a request to designate some county roads open for ATV use. The reasoning behind this request is to facilitate access of forest service and BLM roads directly from the cities in the county.
Commissioner Sitterud welcomed all present and then turned the time to Mark H. Williams from the Southeast Utah OHV Club to make his presentation. Williams made a formal request to open the county roads to ATV travel that connect city roads with forest service and BLM roads. Williams explained that he and Lee Swasey had met with the former county commission several years ago to discuss the possibility of the Castle Valley Trail System. Williams also explained that some cities in the county have begun to look at or already have some planning for such a road designation.
Swasey suggested the creation of a set of maps in which all county class B roads are open to ATV use. He stated that the county and the BLM would have to come to some agreement on an ordinance for these roads that would be used to access existing trails.
Williams then gave an example, the Castle Dale-Orangeville road of Bott Lane. He suggested that if this road was open for ATVs, visitors could access the trails outside of the towns directly from town. He also stated that the club is willing to obtain grant money and donate its own money to help with the signage.
Glenys Sitterud informed the commissioners that in Emery Town all roads are open to ATV use unless a problem arises.
Randall Stilson explained that Orangeville City has an ordinance in place at present and requested that the county designate some of the roads leading into and out of Orangeville open. He stated that Orangeville is willing to help with signs. Stilson also informed the commissioners that Orangeville's ordinance requires that ATV riders on their streets must be a legally licensed driver. Stilson also passed out a map of the roads in Orangeville and the extending county roads in question to connect to the access roads. He also suggested that a temporary resolution be adopted until the whole situation can be investigated and the county officials can come together on a solution.
Petersen informed the group that by Utah state law, unless a road is designated open for ATV use, it is illegal to ride ATVs on that road.
Carol Ware informed the group that Utah County has an ordinance in place that may be a model. It includes a large fine for those who break the rules. Emery County is a prime area for ATV use and we need to address the situation.
Williams gave the commissioners a letter he recently received stating the grant the county had applied for in 2000 had been cancelled because it had not been utilized. The grant was awarded for study of locations for play areas. He informed the commissioners that if they wanted to reapply, the deadline is May 1.
Ware stressed the need for the entire county to work together.
Petersen stated that he understands the need for outlying gravel roads, but has concerns with some of the two lane paved roads that are high impact use roads.
Glenys Sitterud added that the revenue to the cities from ATV users and visitors is quite substantial and anything that could be done to accommodate their needs would be useful.
Paul Conover informed the group that with proper management and patrol, the ATV situation could be managed satisfactorily. He expressed that a friendly ordinance is needed for the visitors to the area. Conover also stated that the parents of the youth need to be responsible and supervise the young people who ride ATVs. He feels that with strong penalties and proper signage along with law enforcement, the situation could be handled.
Stilson again pointed out that safety is the number one issue.
Mayor Thayne Cox from Orangeville stated that Orangeville is committed to make a trail system and to make this idea work but they need the county's backing.
Rex Funk would favor more investigation and start with some limited access as an experiment. The key is to look at all options.
Williams pointed out to the group that an ATV jamboree will be held in Ferron in August and some resolution should come before that date for implementation to accommodate the visitors to Emery County at that time.
Commissioner Sitterud suggested that he invite all the mayors and councils from across the county to discuss this issue and gather enough information to form a county wide consensus. He stated the need for consistency, organization and cooperation from everyone concerned. Sitterud scheduled the next follow-up meeting for April 28 at 6 p.m. in the Emery County Courthouse.