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Utah Travel Headlines

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Increase In OHV Use Prompts Trail Cooperation Project

The number of people riding off road vehicles in Utah is steadily increasing, prompting land managers to scramble to enact reasonable regulations to protect sensitive areas.

In Utah there has been a hot battle between OHV enthusiasts and environmentalists, with some people concerned that the machines cause extensive damage. Now a cooperative project involving many interest groups promises to improve OHV trails while also providing more environmental protections.

The Deseret News has this article about the project. Below are excerpts.

Fred Hayes, deputy director of the state Parks and Recreation Division said the explosive growth in off-roading has necessitated a trails management plan that will help stave off problems before they begin.

"It's growing so fast that if we don't manage a trail system like this we are going to flat leave a mess."

Involving nearly 28,000 acres on two tracts of SITLA (School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration) lands, the project spearheaded by SITLA got under way 17 months ago and was designed to manage a 41 percent increase in trails created by off-highway vehicle users.

Some trails through sensitive areas were shut down, while improvements were made to others to complete a "loop" system for better access.

The school trust lands administration worked closely with multiple groups to get input on the project, including officials from San Juan and Grand counties, OHV organizations, and adjacent land owners such as the U.S. Forest Services and state Division of Wildlife Resources.

The plan restricts travel to designated routes in three categories: 4-wheel drive only, all-terrain vehicles or single-track use.

The kiosks will be placed at 10 key entrance points for routes, which can also be viewed on an interactive map at www.trustlands.utah.gov.

At a time when the interests of trail users are often at odds with management of public lands in Utah, the pilot project has earned praise from OHV users.

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