Juab County Commissioner Richard Brough says the U.S. Forest Service is running roughshod over the people of Juab County by closing portions of Salt Creek Canyon to roadside camping.
Areas affected include a stretch running from the fork in the road, just below Ponderosa Campground, to Bear Canyon Campground, as well as the Cottonwood Campground area.Brough said the main issue in the controversy between the county and the Forest Service is one of freedom.
"Simply stated . . . the district Forest Service manager has imposed new rules and regulations on the use of our campground facilities without any consultation or comment whatsoever from the Juab County Commission, any of our people, organizations, or service groups," Brough said.
However, Thomas Tidwell, District Forest Service ranger for the Spanish Fork Ranger District, said the district likes to use the canyon as an example of a multiuse area which had been well cared for.
He explained that Salt Creek is not one of the forest areas the department wants to have a "trailer park" appearance. There are other forest areas where such camping isallowed. He said those interested in dispersed camping can go to one of those areas.
But Brough said the ranger is running over the citizens of the county in a manner reminiscent of tactics employed in communist-controlled countries.
"As an elected representative of the people of this county, I am horrified when federal governmental agencies like the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management blatantly disregard our constitutional rights and privileges as citizens of a free country," said Brough.
Brough said Juab County people developed Nephi canyon, not the U.S. Forest Service. He said the people of the county coined the names used to designate areas within the confines of the main canyon, not the Forest Service.
"Juab County clubs and people have maintained and taken care of the campgrounds and recreational facilities - not the U.S. Forest Service."
He said it was Juab County taxes that built and continue to maintain the main road into the canyon, and he thought Juab County people should have been consulted on the decision.
"To the U.S. Forest Service we say: We will not stand by and let you discriminate against us without a fight. We will do what is necessary to protect our investment and our rights as free citizens of this country. Your arbitrary rules and regulations will not stand unchallenged," Brough said.
Tidwell said there is a limited area available in Salt Creek. Previously, tourists and others interested in day-use were unable to enjoy the canyon because all the sites were taken by campers.
"In other forest areas we allow heavy concentration (of campers), but we do not want that in Salt Creek," Tidwell said.
"We know we are displacing some of the local campers. But we are proud of our management. We do not want to turn the canyon into a parking lot. Out-of-state tourists do not appreciate wall-to-wall campers," he said.
Tidwell said the management decision is based on a 1983 forest management team recommendation for the area.
"At the same time we are not just managing the forest for Nephi but for the rest of the people in the U.S.," Tidwell said.