Effective immediately, approximately 1,500 acres of Utah trust lands are now closed to recreation access, while more than 23,000 acres of trust lands in the area remain open. In addition, there are thousands of acres of federal Bureau of Land Management lands open for recreation in the vicinity. Utah County and SITLA officials urge ethical use of these open areas to prevent further access restrictions.
Commissioner Doug Witney coordinated this interagency and citizen effort after the commission received complaints from residents about illegal dumping and undisciplined shooting in the area.
"We want to keep Lake Mountain clean, beautiful, and safe for our residents and visitors, as well as preserve some of our historical sites," said Utah County Commissioner Doug Witney. "Pack out what you pack in, including spent shells and targets, and avoid using glass and other materials that shatter."
Volunteers from Saratoga Springs, Eagle Mountain, the Utah Rock Art and Research Association, and youth and adult detention/correction facilities, along with Utah County and SITLA employees began cleanup work Monday, April 7. They’ve collected and hauled a small mountain of construction materials, spent ammunition shells, targets, as well as computers, televisions, mattresses, tires, appliances, an abandoned car, and other debris, most of which have been used for target shooting. Much of the material was hauled to the Bayview Landfill, which is operated by the South Utah Valley Solid Waste District and a cooperator in this project.
Utah County is also working to acquire land to construct a shooting range nearby, with expected completion in 2015. It is hoped this new facility will help reduce undisciplined shooting and illegal dumping in the area.
"Our law enforcement efforts are not intended to deny access to any trust lands or public lands but citizens need to be aware that we do have an obligation to ensure that these lands are being used in a safe and responsible manner," stated Utah County Sheriff James O. Tracy. "Within those parameters, we strongly encourage individuals and families to enjoy the variety of open lands available within Utah County."
Lake Mountain has a long history of catastrophic fires caused by undisciplined shooting, as well as related concerns over public health and safety. In addition, sensitive archaeological resources are at stake on both BLM and SITLA lands.
“We want people to enjoy these school trust lands, but to regard these lands as their children’s and grandchildren’s inheritance that helps fund their education, which is exactly what trust lands are for,” said Trust Lands Director Kevin Carter. The Trust Lands Administration manages 3.4 million surface acres throughout the state, from which revenue is generated to support designated state institutions, primarily public schools.
Utah County is also completing a fencing project along the west side of Highway 68 beginning in the Little Cove Area and working southward to the Soldier Pass Road turnoff. According to Aaron Eager from Utah County Public Works, this six-mile stretch of fencing largely corresponds to a shooting closure memorialized by BLM on its lands two years ago to help curb increased fire danger from unauthorized shooting and public safety problems on adjoining private lands.