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That's the way it is on Utah federal land

Published May 25, 2013 1:01 am
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

I spend most of the year working or playing on federal land in Utah and I don't understand the need to switch ownership to the state. In fact, I find it terrifying.

Here are a few examples of what all of us can enjoy on federal land in Utah. There are lots more.

I just spent two weeks in the desert exploring ancient Anasazi ruins not listed on any maps. It's another world and I only saw two other people on the trails while I was there. Although most of these ruins were abandoned toward the end of the 13th century, many are in perfect condition. I lose myself in the canyons of southeastern Utah. It's my visit to Narnia.

I camped on a rock beneath the cottonwoods, by a clear-flowing stream with a swimming hole. The water was perfect for a dip at the end of the day. The campsite was nothing more than a fire circle. It was perfect.

There were no tables, no permits, no rangers, no fences, no signs and no fees. There are a few rules but we all know them. You have to put your fire out, leave a clean camp and you cannot contaminate the water. That's the way it is camping on federal land in Utah.

Next week I'm working as a consulting geologist. I've done this for about 30 years. I have a client with a gold prospect in the west desert of Utah. They want to drill a few holes on their property this summer.

To define their targets they collected samples, mapped the geology and staked some mining claims. No permits were necessary for any of this. They pay about $200 per year in taxes to maintain each claim.

They'll need a permit to drill holes. I'll write one up for the Bureau of Land Management. It will take me a few hours and will require a bond. The bond insures that at the end of the program everything will be reclaimed and reseeded with natural vegetation.

We will probably get the permit approved in about 60 days. That's the way it is exploring for gold on federal lands in Utah.

The spring run-off will finish this year about the 4th of July. I'll rig my fly rod and start exploring Utah's wild rivers on federal land. I particularly like the less-explored rivers of the Uinta Mountains.

You can walk up these on the old Civilian Conservation Corps trails and never see a soul. The valleys are spectacular and once you get into the High Uinta Wilderness they look exactly like they did 200 years ago. The fishing is great, particularly in the steeper canyons. That's the way it is fishing on federal land in Utah.

When the snow flies in the mountains you'll find me teaching skiing at Alta. I usually teach about 100 days a year. There is some private property at Alta but most of it is U.S. Forest Service land. If you stay inside the ropes, you can ski just about any place you like. That's the way it is skiing on federal land in Utah

Federal land in Utah allows us to go darn near anywhere we want and do darn near whatever we want so long as we follow a few simple rules. "If it ain't broke don't fix it."

If you want to see broken, turn it over to the state Legislature. They can wreck anything.

Brian K. Jones is a consulting geologist, ski instructor, farmer and freelance writer. He and his wife Barbara live in Sandy.






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