Representatives of the Fish Lake National Forest want Juab County commissioners to include roads on private property around the park in the county's "B" road system.
The roads are open and being used by the public, but park personnel want to protect them from closure by private landowners.U.S. Forest Service representatives Clyde Lay, engineer, and Bill Wright and Douglas Reid asked commissioners to consider making a declaration that would "try to make sure the public has access," said Lay.
Counties such as Wayne, Piute, Millard and Sevier have made similar declarations.
Lay said the Forest Service does not have the power to take such an action and that the county should declare the roads public. "That is not our charter," he said.
If some of the roads are not declared public, they could be closed by private landowners who could prevent access to large blocks of forest land.
Such land is then locked away from public use, said Lay. Many of the roads are now on the "D" road system in the county, which Lay said is no longer legally defensible in keeping roads open.
"That designation almost doesn't mean anything any more," he said."The `B' system is what really means something," said Lay.
Commissioner Richard Brough objected to the idea. He said he hates to be a party to any more state control. Juab County is already 82 percent government owned, he said. Brough said this is another case of government taking away private rights. "You could close the Forest Service lands," said Brough.
"This may be the only way to assure the public can continue to use the roads," said Lay. "If you don't do anything and the private landowner gates the road, we can do nothing," he said.
"Why do you want to fight the general public?" asked Wright. He said the action of protecting the roads is in the best interest of the public.
While the Forest Service representatives agreed the Forest Service could close the lands, they said it would not be politically sound for them to do so. "You will have to look at our track record," said Lay.
Randy Freston, county engineer, and Don Eyre Jr., county attorney, both said including the roads in the Class B road system could be of benefit to the county.
Commissioner Jim Garrett, saying he hated to see public access roads closed, reccommended the commission study the question further. Commissioner Joseph Bernini said he thought the plan might present some protection for the public.
Brough agreed to take the plan under advisement and study it further and supported Garrett's motion.