0825 Deep Creek Update
Wasatch Environmental Update for August 27, 2013
By John Worlock, Member, SOC Board of Directors
“Deep Creek Update”
This message should better be called the “Deep Creek Update,” as it takes us far away from the Wasatch Front to the western edge of the state. There lie the Deep Creek Mountains. They are said to be scenic, though few of us have ever seen them. They rise abruptly from the nearly 5000 ft elevation of the Snake Valley in Juab and Tooele Counties to heights rivaling the Wasatch Range, exceeding, at one point, 12,000 ft.
They lie within their own Wilderness Study Area of some 69,000 acres, established in 1990 by the Bureau of Land Management or BLM, when they judged that it contained all the characteristics of capital-W Wilderness, and deserved to be so designated. In the intervening decades, Congress has not been swift to create new wilderness areas, so it remains a Study Area.
We’ve taken an electronic journey out there, where the State and Juab County have suddenly reached an agreement with the BLM concerning the ownership of three motorized routes into the Deep Creek Mountains from the Snake Valley.
The county was claiming three routes, leading up the Granite, Tom’s and Trout Creek Canyons under the federal law known as RS2477, a remnant of the federal largess of the nineteenth century, seeking to stimulate immigration and development in the uninhabited West. Under that law, current claimants must demonstrate historic use as a public thoroughfare, that is historic use, as distinct from current off-road vehicular traffic.
A few miles up Granite Canyon lies a clearing known as Camp Ethel, and Tom’s Canyon leads to an old logging site, so the agreement gives the state title to those roads, up to those destinations. The BLM agreed to keep the Tom’s Canyon road open to traffic up to the crest of the range, but with the option to close it if the off-road riders go off road, so to speak. Title to the Trout Creek route ends at the boundary of the Wilderness Study Area. As part of the agreement, Juab County pledged to abandon further road claims and enact ordinances limiting motorized access to the Wilderness Study Area.
We applaud this resolution of Juab County’s RS2477 claims, and hope it motivates other counties to do likewise.