Mesia Nyman, district ranger for the Manti-LaSal National Forest recently reported on activities on the forest to the Emery County Public Lands Council. She said they are currently working on the water measuring devices at Electric Lake and a field trip to discuss the best location for these measuring devices will be evaluated. One possibility is at Boulger Creek where an existing culvert is in existence. Nyman also mentioned the only application for such devices that they have at this time is from PacifiCorp.
Nyman said there were large crowds of people on the forest over the 4th of July. Snowdrifts on Skyline Drive make it so you can't go along that entire route. She said they have 56 people working on the forest and four of them are ATV enforcement workers. "The ATVs are everywhere. At Potters Pond we closed off an illegal road and they just moved it over and made a new one. We are struggling with illegal ATV use. There are plenty of trails out there for use. We would appreciate any suggestions. We are seeing a lot of repeat offenders," said Nyman.
A ticket for illegal ATV use ranges from $75-$100 and the lands council suggested increased fines and enforcement. Nyman said illegal ATV use is a concern for grazers. Illegal use also spreads weeds, "We want to keep the opportunity there, but we don't want use all over. People think that anything open to ATVs should be open to full-sized vehicles and the problem is escalating. Trail width is also an issue. With the ATVs getting bigger, we need to address the trail width issue."
Nyman said the forest service has received complaints about the cows grazing in Huntington Canyon. This area is open range and is only grazed for a short time each year. One idea was to close the canyon to camping while it is being grazed. Someone also hit a cow with their vehicle. Nyman said she was just raising the issue and asking for suggestions, the cows are just there part of the time and then moved to other areas.
Nyman said they have evaluated a proposal for the rebuilding and operation of Skyhaven on Ferron Mountain. It was determined that the people didn't have the financial capacity to do what was proposed and the forest service is now looking at the removal of the old buildings. The owner has had ample opportunity to fix up the property. Commissioner Ira Hatch wondered if someone at a later date wanted to rebuild a business there, if it would be allowed. Nyman said yes, the forest service would be willing to issue a new permit for the area.
Subsidence continues in the East Fork of Box Canyon. There are cracks in the stream bottom and loss of water through the cracks. SUFCO has submitted a proposal for repairing the subsidence cracks and plans on taking care of the cracks.
Council members said that mining and water is as always a big issue and that gathering data on springs and ponds will be critical on trying to show where subsidence has occurred and effected water flows. The questions was raised about how close to vital spots mining is allowed. Nyman said that different agencies than the forest service make those decisions. Commissioner Hatch said the BLM can overrule a forest service recommendation.
All of the outfitters and guides who applied for a permit were issued one. Nyman requested a committee be setup to look at where overnight outfitting operations would work the best on the forest. Also locations for permanent base camps if an outfitter wanted to work along those lines. Nyman reported a dozen outfitters had applied for day use permits.
Road closures on the Ephraim side will be incurred during construction on that road. It is being paved to the top and only open for an hour in the mornings, at noon and after 5 p.m. Surfacing will also take place on the Wrigley Road with turnouts being constructed and culverts will be replaced and new cattle guards installed. This is a high clearance four-wheel drive road that has been damaged when vehicles chain up and chew their way up the hill. This damage has led to problems with the drainage on the road.
A bridge is being replaced on the Millers Flat Road just south of the reservoir, the road is not closed, but a bypass has been constructed to allow traffic to pass.
The fuels project at Joe's Valley is nearing completion. The density of the vegetation has been reduced and pinyon and juniper has been thinned out. The subdivision on the south end of the reservoir has turned out nicely according to Nyman. The idea behind the fuel reduction is to slow down any approaching fire and keep it closer to the ground where it is easier to fight. Crews are working on the pinyon/juniper face on the west side now, they are thinning and salvaging any posts and poles for use at the range shop. A bullhog is being used that chews up the trees and spits them out which eliminates dead trees.
The Manti timber sale has again been signed and timber removal will take place at the back of the Muddy up to Duck Fork. The timber being removed includes dead and dying spruce. This removal will allow for some recovery of the economic value of the trees and reduce fire danger in the area as well as adding to the reestablishment of Engelman spruce through replanting.