Forest Works to Address Camping Concerns Amid Pandemic

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Forest Service Press Release

With the rise in COVID-19 cases and the decline of businesses reopening to the public, the Manti-La Sal National Forest has noticed an increase of usage.

“I’m pleased to see that people are out enjoying their National Forest,” said Ryan Nehl, Manti-La Sal Forest Supervisor. “That said, we’re seeing crowding and user impacts that present challenges for our staff. I am hopeful that we can accommodate the increased usage and provide a high-quality experience for our customers.”

Several challenges that employees are dealing with include unattended camping equipment for more than 72 hours and camp sites remaining past the 14-day limit.

In order to address the ongoing issues, Forest Service employees have been asked to sign up for an area on the Forest, typically a place they will be working or frequent often, and assist in reminding campers about the rules in place, explained Darren Olsen, Ferron-Price District Ranger.

“We’ve asked employees to pay closer attention to trailers in those assigned areas and to start identifying ones that have been abandoned, meaning no one seems to be there in-person or that the trailers have been there for an extended time,” Olsen said.

When Forest Service employees identify a trailer or camping equipment they believe to be abandoned, a notice is left to remind the occupants of Forest rules.

“Employees have been instructed to post notices or warnings if they suspect equipment has been unoccupied for more than 72 hours, or if they believe the equipment is approaching the 14-day limit, prior to turning the issue over to our law enforcement,” Olsen said.

The notices are strictly meant to remind people of the 14-day camping limit and the 72-hour unattended rule. There is a spot for Forest Service employees to identify the date they left the notice to help identify how long trailers or equipment are in a location. These are not considered tickets and recipients do not need to follow up on them. Anyone with questions or concerns should call their nearest district ranger office.

Per Manti-La Sal National Forest Order No. 04-010-013, “…persons may camp within designated campgrounds or on undeveloped sites not closed to camping with the Forests for a period of not more than 14 days within any period of 28 consecutive days. … Campers may relocate to another site after the 14th day of occupation. This new site must be at least 10 miles, in a straight line, away from the previous location … No structure or private property may be left unoccupied for more than 72 hours at a site in undeveloped areas without prior written permission of the Forest Officer in charge in connect with any authorized use of National Forest lands. This includes structures or property in those areas occupied during the 14-day stay limit.”

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