Tooele County Road Abandonment Update from Take Back Utah

| August 28, 2009 | 0 Comments

Tooele County Road Abandonment Update

First a little background. All of this is available on the Take Back Utah website www.takebackutah.org

We were first notified of this situation mid last week. We have spent many hours trying to get to the real facts and report them to our members as we find them. To sum it up, Tooele County is on the process of abandoning some public roads in the Ophir Canyon and Bald Mountain area due to a number of concerns. We are understanding of the need for some of the closures but we want to limit the impact such closures would have on the public. We have been as involved as we can be at this late juncture. There is an upcoming commission meeting in which we expect to see a recommended proposal for abandonment of several roads adopted. The opportunity for the public to stop this at this point is very limited. And pragmatically speaking probably not worth the actual or political costs. There are however some valuable lessons the community can learn from this. Go to the website linked above for more info. The latest info follows.

We have met with Commissioner Jerry Hurst and some very knowledgeable locals. We have a few things we need to convey to you.

Overall we understand the County Commission is trying it’s best to do a very difficult job. The compromise plan they will likely accept is a good one. It is not perfect and we have discussed some potential changes. We have articulated those in a letter to the commission you will find in the Action Center on www.takebackutah.org. We hope to see some of our suggestions followed. Commissioner Hurst agreed to fight for some of them.

Simply put the area where you find these roads is made up of a great deal of privately owned land and some public land. According to the commissioner there have been serious contentious issues about these roads for many years even a decade or more. The plan to address the issue has been in process for many years. The county wants to protect private property from encroachment of the public and yet provide the public access to public land. The county has also told us they are concerned with the protection of critical elk calving areas, public safety in open abandoned mines, land owners from liability of such mines, and watershed. They have negotiated loop routes that will provide the public access to almost all of the public land in this area. There are 2 roads that dead end on public land that will likely be closed and so access to those areas will be lost. There are other roads that dead end on private property that will be closed. There are roads that are surrounded by private property that will be closed but alternate routes are available to access surrounding public land. Again it is not a perfect plan but the commissioners have done a good job at trying to balance competing interests.

The upcoming meeting is a public meeting. Members of the public are welcome. BUT IT IS NOT A PUBLIC HEARING. This means you won’t be able to comment at this meeting. The time for public comment has passed. Public comments were received in the last planning and zoning meetings. We still suggest that if you have something to say about this matter that you submit your comments in writing to the county commission their contact info is available on our website.

We think it would be great to see hundreds of citizens at the commission meeting, but please do not come as an angry mob.

There are valuable lessons to be learned from this:

1- The public must be involved in these matters. Groups like USA-ALL are not big enough to have eyes and ears in every place. But when notified by locals they can get involved where needed or assist others who wish to be involved.

2- Trying to get things changed or stop closures at the last minute is very difficult. We must be proactive and involved in our local communities early in the process.

3- The motorized community needs to communicate better so that we can support each other and bring additional resources to fight small local closures such as this.

4- There is a serious need to be more self policing. WE MUST STOP those among us who ignore places where access is restricted whether on private or public land. We must make it socially unacceptable to use land irresponsibly or in ways that ignore the rights of others. In the case of these roads early intervention to stop those who ignored private property rights and or drove off of public roads onto private property would have made it easier to keep some of these roads open.

Thank you for receiving these communications from us. Please help us spread the word about USA-ALL and Take Back Utah. If we get enough people to unite with us, receive our emails, and donate to our causes we positively will be able to better protect access to public land in Utah. Help us out by telling your friends about us or simply by going to our websites and sign them up to receive our free emails.

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Category: Access Issues, Action Alerts

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