For employees at the offices of the Manti La-Sal Forest Service, the talk at this point in year would usually revolve around their concerns about fires on the Forest. But this year, they are talking about a subject usually reserved for times when there is nothing else to talk about– the weather.
Unusually high snow pack, cooler than normal weather, and late precipitation have combined to make conditions difficult and sometimes even dangerousВ on the Forest.
According to Public Affairs Specialist Rosann Fillmore, employees are concerned about high, swift water in streams and rivers, saturated soils and standing water, and the possibility of mudslides.
“What is causing more consternation than anything, is that we are at ‘spring breakup’ right now at the end of June, which normally occurs from the end of march through mid-April,” said Fillmore. “Many of our campgrounds have standing water, soils are saturated, and some areas even have patches of snow.”
The conditions have led to campground and road closures which are a frustration for campers, and a concern for the Forest Service. “We know [campers] are anxious, and we’re anxious. We are keeping an eye on them, and as soon as we feel like we can open them without endangering people or causing damage to the resource, we will,” she assured.
Fillmore offered several precautions to assure safety and limit damage:
- Stay away from the banks of rivers and streams. The water is undercutting the banks more than it would normally.
- Keep children and pets well away from the water. Accidents can happen quickly.
- Be careful crossing streams. In the early part of the day, you might feel like you can cross a stream, but when you come back in the afternoon, it may have risen six or seven inches, and you can’t get back.
- Try not to cause unnecessary damage to roads. If you see you are in mud and leaving tracks, stop and turn around.
- Don’t attempt to drive across a slide. The lower end of the slide is always the softest, and you can get in real trouble.
If people will follow these precautions and use common sense, Fillmore feels confident they can still enjoy their time on the forest. If you have questions about certain roads or campgrounds, contact the Forest Service’s Price office at 637-2817. For those who may have reservations in a campground that remains closed, refunds are available through recreation.gov.