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 Collaboration between Concerned Factions Help to Discourage Rogue Use of Trust Lands

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pwm
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PostSubject: Collaboration between Concerned Factions Help to Discourage Rogue Use of Trust Lands   Sun Dec 12, 2010 8:55 pm

By: Robert Janis



Collaboration between Concerned Factions Help to Discourage Rogue Use of Trust Lands









One issue that has the potential of upsetting avid OHV enthusiasts the most is land closings. OHV-related organizations like the BlueRibbon Coalition and local clubs throughout the country work overtime to stop the federal, state, and local governments and land owners who may have previously allowed access to their lands from closing trails. You could say that in some regions of the country this issue has led to civic civil wars.

Not so for the case of a project at the La Sal Mountains of Utah. Much of the land in the area, which includes the Moab territory, is administered by the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service, and a good portion is under the control of an independent government agency of the State of Utah. The agency is the School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration (SITLA). According to Kim Christy, assistant director and project coordinator for SITLA, the Agency administers about 3.4 million acres of land across the state of Utah. “This land was granted to the State of Utah by the United States at statehood with the requirement that it be managed for the financial benefit of the beneficiaries, primarily the public schools as well as other land grant institutions which include the University of Utah, Utah State University, and others,” explained Christy.
“Revenue for the schools and other beneficiaries is raised by the management activities of the agency which include land sales, mineral leasing, and leasing land for a variety of uses such as telecommunications, commercial, industrial, recreational, farming, timber harvesting, and grazing lands for livestock. For example, the agency has a contract with Western Excelsior, a timber operation based in Colorado, that harvests and also helps to regenerate timber stands in the region,” said Christy.

Christy pointed out that the agency has always had a policy of allowing public recreation on its land. “They (recreationists) have been using our land in various capacities, especially where we sit in a sea of federal domain principally the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) property,” said Christy. ATV recreationists have been using the land for decades, he added.

The Problem
Lands that could be used by ATVers was designated but not well marked. So rogue ATV riders have carved out a number of trails or roads without any authority. It is that rogue activity that has created a problem. The administrators of the agency want to continue to allow ATV recreation on the land, but they want it better managed, and they want to “decommission” the trails that have been carved through the land by rogue riders. “We believed that we had some serious undisciplined uses taking place, and the resource degradation issues were enough of a serious threat to us that we decided to try to mobilize an effort among the stake holders in a collaborative way,” said Christy.

According to Christy, there are two areas in question--the North La Sal Block and the South La Sal Block. “It has actually been something that has been concerning us for a number of years,” said Christy. “Two years ago we mobilized an effort both internally and in collaboration with the two counties that we are affiliated with due to where the blocks sit. We are working with the counties’ governments as well as trying to collaborate with ATV organizations from that area to see if we can come up with a way to manage use better.”
Once all the factions were signed on, the agency did an inventory of the roads and trails on their land. “We actually went out and digitized the entire road and trail systems networks in both blocks,” said Christy. “Then we compared them to a county assessment that took place about 15 years ago in the mid-1990s. We were shocked to find literally a 40-percent increase in the amount of roads present today compared to 15 years ago.”

The data showed that the agency had a serious problem that needed to be put under control. They decided that they did not want to entirely eliminate ATV recreationists from the area, but they did decide that they wanted to manage the use to save the resources.





The Solution
Once it became clear how prevalent the problem was, the agency and the stake holders, which included ATV groups, local governments, adjoining land owners, and federal and state agencies, came together to resolve the issue. “We sat down and tried to come up with a consensus to give up certain roads that were redundant or not leading to any meaningful areas that were carved out over time; and, in the process, come out with an overall plan for the trails that remain,” said Christy.

So, in cooperation it was decided which trails or roads would be closed and which trails would remain open. Moreover, it was decided to redesign some trails to create looping systems so that trails would not dead end in a particular area and encourage a frustrated rider to go on into forbidden territory. The agency has also worked with local law enforcement and the Division of State Parks to try to arrange for additional law enforcement presence. Chris Fausett, resource specialist and project coordinator, added that the trust is trying to create a culture of self-discipline among the users. “The emphasis is on what they (the OHV rider) can do rather than what they can’t do,” said Christy.
So far the project has installed kiosks at entrance points to the properties. There will be a total of 10 kiosks which will have information about the trail system including maps. Moreover, each individual trail segment will be marked with signs that designate that they are open. The trust has spent $241,000 on this project, which include information kiosks and signs to educate ATV riders on how to use the land. Moreover, 36 miles of rogue trails have been closed.
Christy said that the Agency as well as local OHV organizations such as SPEAR and Ride With Respect will post the signs and SPEAR and Ride With Respect will assist in policing the trails. Christy said that the process of marking the trails will take about two years.

In October the agency dedicated 134 miles of off-road trails that are a part of the project. Present at the ceremony were members of ATV clubs as well as local and state officials and one of the 10 information kiosks was unveiled.
While a lot has been, and will be done by the agency as well as other stake holders concerned with the well-being of the lands of the La Sal Mountains, both Christy and Fausett pointed out that the success of the project will rely on voluntary compliance with rules and restrictions.

A website with Information about the trust and the project including maps can be accessed at: http://tlamap.trustlands.utah.gov/plat/ ... trails.htm.

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PostSubject: Re: Collaboration between Concerned Factions Help to Discourage Rogue Use of Trust Lands   Mon Dec 13, 2010 11:29 am

Thats awesome! I wish they were more willing to work together like this in more areas of the U.S. It would truely be a great loss if they were to close OHVing in the La Sals and Moab. Moab is and will probably always be, one of my favorite places to ride. Thanks for posting Phil. Very Happy
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PostSubject: Re: Collaboration between Concerned Factions Help to Discourage Rogue Use of Trust Lands   Mon Dec 13, 2010 9:24 pm

Trying to spread the word brother

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