This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Since 1963, the Bertelsen family has spent every Fourth of July at a cabin on the shore of Scofield Reservoir northwest of Price. Salt Lake City resident Mike Bertelsen and his extended family hit the water every year at his dad's place for some fishing, swimming and relaxing. And they aren't the only ones.
"It's a big party at Scofield for the Fourth," Bertelsen says. "All the cabin owners are there."
But this year, the party's off.
The greater Scofield area, which includes the popular Scofield State Park, remains under an evacuation order because of the Seeley Fire, 12 miles from the reservoir. Seasonal cabin owners have been asked to keep out mainly because of smoke, not because structures are threatened and only a handful of full-time Scofield residents are being allowed to return.
The closures of Scofield and other recreation areas across the state because of wildfires are a major disappointment for families who had planned holiday vacations and family reunions.
Campers and hikers hoping for a quick getaway in Fishlake National Forest near Delta will have to look elsewhere: The Clay Springs fire near Oak City, east of Delta, has forced the closure of Oak Creek Campground and nearby trails and roads.
"Everything on the canyon range" is off-limits, said John Zapell, public affairs specialist for Fishlake National Forest.
And fly-fishers looking to catch cutthroat and brook trout in the popular Boulder Mountain area in Dixie National Forest, south of Fishlake, may have to cast their lines elsewhere. Some areas remain closed after being damaged by last month's Lost Lake Fire. Bulberry Road is closed, as is Wasp Lake Trailhead and Dog Flat Road, according to Zapell. Lake anglers can access some waters by trail only. Blind Lake, Pear Lake and Donkey Reservoir are open.
Some vacationers are already avoiding troublesome areas. Because of the Seeley Fire, use of Miller Flat Reservoir and surrounding campgrounds has been true to its name: flat, according to Roseann Fillmore, public affairs specialist for Manti-La Sal National Forest.
"It's really quiet," she said.
Vacationers who seek alternatives to Scofield Reservoir have options, said Dan Richards, manager of Scofield State Park. Boaters and campers can head south to Huntington North Reservoir, though the state park there was filled all weekend. Some boaters were turned away due to crowding.
Richards expects some campsite availability in the middle of the week, but not much. Another alternative, he said, is Joe's Valley Reservoir, near Orangeville.
He encourages people in Utah County and northward to head to Utah's northern lakes and reservoirs.
Richards said Scofield State Park could reopen by Thursday or Friday. In the meantime, roads leading in are closed: State Road 31 at Cleveland Reservoir and at Crandall Canyon; SR-264 at Electric Lake and SR-96 at Highway 6.
That's bad news for Bertelsen, who said this will be first time that no family has been to the cabin on the Fourth.
"It seems like [the area] is outrageously overprotected" right now, he said, though he supposes it's better that officials don't have to worry about ATV riders and other recreationists starting another fire.
So he's thinking about what he might do instead, maybe sailing on the Great Salt Lake with just his wife.
"I have no idea what we're going to do for the Fourth itself," he said. "Maybe just watch the grass burn here at home," he joked.
Donations for hungry livestock
The Utah Department of Agriculture has established a Feed the Animals account at Wells Fargo Bank to which the public may donate to help ranchers in need of emergency feed for livestock due to wildfires blazing throughout the state. The department also has created a website at http://www.uearc.org where donations can be made.
Seasonal rangelands for an estimated 20,000 head of sheep and cattle have been destroyed by fire in the past week, said a news release issued Monday by Leonard Blackham, Utah commissioner of agriculture and food. The fund "will help ranchers meet their short- and long-term food needs," he said.
Agriculture officials worked with the Utah Emergency Animal Response Coalition to create the fund and said 100 percent of donations will be used to feed and care for affected animals. The coalition is a registered charity established to care for animals during emergencies. In addition to the Agriculture Department, members include Utah Department of Emergency Management, the Humane Society of Utah and various county animal control departments, according to the release.