|Bill Allinson, BLM off-road vehicle specialist installs a sign to let people know which routes are open and which are closed.|
Easter weekend is upon us and with it will come the annual pilgrimage to the San Rafael Swell. As always when large numbers of people gather the opportunity for misuse of the Swell surfaces.
On March 31, members of the Castle Country OHV Club and Sage Riders Motorcycle Club were patrolling, marking and maintaining OHV trails in the area of North Coal Wash. Members noticed some off route travel. Volunteers were able to catch up with the three riders and call the BLM and Emery County Sheriff's Office. Deputy Ray Jeffs responded to the area and intercepted the riders based on the information reported by the club members. Upon investigation Deputy Jeffs issued citations for off route travel to two riders, both of which were from Logan. These riders will be required to appear in the Castle Dale Justice Court.
During the week of March 27-30 additional off route travel occurred in this same area. The Emery County Sheriff's Office and BLM are currently investigating this incident. The Castle County OHV Club and the Southeastern Utah OHV Club have each offered a $250 reward for information leading to the conviction of those responsible.
Many clubs, both local and regional have been involved in monitoring, maintaining and marking the open routes on the San Rafael Swell. Through the efforts of the BLM and volunteer groups, compliance to the travel plan has increased.
The BLM has maps available that were funded through a grant from the Utah State Parks and Recreation. This map was made by volunteers, state, federal and county representatives. This map is user friendly and shows all travel routes that are currently open. This map is free and will be available at the local BLM office. The local clubs encourage all motorized users to obtain a map prior to traveling on the desert. The local clubs also encourage users to strictly adhere to the travel map and avoid any off route travel. Many of the club members will be patrolling the San Rafael Swell during the Easter weekend to educate and promote on route compliance and safe OHV riding.
Over the last several weeks members from the Sage Riders Motorcycle Club, Castle Country OHV Club and Southeastern OHV Club have donated hundreds of volunteer hours in marking and maintaining the trail systems on the Swell. All OHV users need to educate themselves and join a local OHV club and volunteer. The more active approach the OHV clubs take the more likely they will be to maintain the use currently available.
Emery County Sheriff Lamar Guymon said, "As the Easter weekend approaches we request everyone's assistance in obeying all of the laws and state statutes and the BLM regulations. Let's make Easter weekend a pleasant, rewarding and safe weekend for those who go out to enjoy the beautiful country and scenery we have in Emery County.
"We're proud of what we enjoy here and wish to keep using and enjoying it into the future. To ensure our ability to do so, we must adhere to the laws and ordinances in place. Not doing so gives ammunition to those who wish to close us out of our public lands. Let's continue to enjoy our beautiful country without misuse. Often times it isn't county residents who disobey the rules on the Swell. Those coming into our area need to be educated as to what they can and can't do. Our deputy Ray Jeffs who patrols the Swell is very good with educating those using the Swell. He has passed out thousands of maps and when the newest map comes out he will pass those out as well. We're proud of the job, Deputy Jeffs is doing on the Swell. It has been a tremendous benefit having a patrolman on the Swell most of the time.
"He has been a first responder in many accidents, lost hikers, search and rescues, vehicle breakdowns and numerous other occasions. If everyone works together we can continue to use and benefit from the Swell," said Sheriff Guymon.