Theft of Trail Signs Frustrate BLM and Trail Users

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Nowhere to ride has long been the lament heard from the off road vehicle crowd. Equally as often, there are the voices from landowners and non-motorized recreationists that the off roaders are everywhere. Even as a coalition of many different user groups get together to find solutions and recreation opportunities for everyone, a new problem is creating havoc.

The BLM, the Castle Country OHV Club, SITLA, Forest Service and a handful of non-motorized recreationists have been working hard to offer opportunities for all of the players in the game. Despite all the hard work, someone is sabotaging the efforts by pulling up carsonite route markers and signage that directs users to the BLM designated trails.

This is especially prevalent north of Price in the Woodhill area and around Kenilworth. Even though this problem occurs on trails all over the west, BLM Recreation Specialist, Josh Winkler, stated at a recent meeting that the problem is more acute here than anywhere else he is aware of.

It may be a trail user or it may be land owners frustrated by the traffic around their properties. ATV and UTV users are often the first group thought of in these conflicts, but mountain bikers, hikers and others are also responsible for trespassing on private lands, vandalizing property and leaving gates open.

“We have worked so hard on getting more trails into place and to see something like this happening is counterproductive to the two years of efforts of our group,” remarked Vikki Barnett, Carbon County Trails Chairperson.

It cost the BLM $20 plus labor to replace each Carsonite marker. When they are replacing one sign up to six times, and then multiply that by the many that are taken, the cost really adds up. That ties up funds that could be put to developing more trails.

Winkler said that the agency has some leads as to the culprit, but he also won’t reveal exactly what steps it are taking to get to the bottom of the issue. There was some speculation in the trails group that motion sensor cameras might be used in some locations.

There is an extensive series of trails now open in the Carbon County area. The BLM has been making an effort to put up signage to allow users to know where they can and can’t go. This is to protect users fromВ trespassingВ on private lands and other areas. It is also to protect land owner’s property and to avoid conflicts between users and land owners who do not want others crossing their land.

Pulling up the signs is an offense that can be prosecuted by the county and the federal government as willful, wanton destruction of government property. The risk that someone might take a wrong turn and become lost, injured or worse is even more bothersome to those trying to develop the trails.

The County GIS department is gathering the extensive system of trails that are in the county and compiling them so they can be used for locals, tourist promotion and other planning purposes for the whole county. The BLM has been making an effort to inventory the trails as they become aware of trails on its land, and is working to designate routes for off-highway vehicles. The process is not a simple one and requires time and man power to take care of all the steps.

If a trail does not connect directly to a public right-of-way, then it cannot be officially designated as part of the trail system until there is an easement agreement with the private land owners involved. Environmental, wildlife impacts and archeological studies must be done to ensure the impacts are addressed.

The Carbon County Trails Committee has been meeting for well over a year to find ways to designate and promote a trail system in Carbon County. The system of trails will include multiple use sections, designated road sections for off highway vehicles, mountain bike and hiking trails, equestrian routes and many off road routes for ATV and UTV use.

The trails group is open to anyone who wants to attend and takes place the fourth Thursday of every month. They meet at noon at the Carbon County Events Center. It is a place to exchange ideas, concerns and issues about area trails in a very receptive setting.

The BLM and the trails committee are asking that the public respect the trails and leave markers in place for the safety and protection of those who use the trails and for private property owners as well.

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