Nephi City Council members have signed a letter to the Forest Service indicating strong support for allowing multiple use of the forest such as dispersed camping in Salt Creek Canyon.
The Uinta National Forest is taking public comment and formulating a master plan to govern use of the Salt Creek Canyon area. Two developed camping areas, Bear Canyon and Ponderosa campgrounds, are currently available. Cottonwood Canyon campground had been razed by the Forest Service, but after a public outcry, the Juab County Commission negotiated with State Forester Don Nebekker and got permission two years ago to rebuild that camp-ground.However, negotiations have continued to reopen creekside and roadside dispersed camping along Salt Creek from the boundaries of the national forest to Bear Canyon.
The county has also sought to develop Andrews Canyon.
During a Tuesday City Council meeting, councilmen voted unanimously to send the letter requesting that Mark Sensibaugh, forest ranger with Uinta National Forest, consider the City Council's desires as the agency formulates a master plan for Salt Creek Canyon, east of Nephi.
The city also requested the opportunity to comment on the actual plan after it is drafted.
"Nephi strongly feels that proper management of this valuable resource is of utmost importance," says the letter.
"We believe that the canyon must continue to offer multiple-use opportunities such as dispersed camping, hiking, fishing, developed camping, group opportunities, backpacking, etc.," the letter continued. "We would oppose planning that seems to focus on limiting opportunities."
Councilmen said they understand use of the forest is increasing and resources need to be protected. However, they said they feel there are still opportunities for further use of the canyon. "Some development at the Jenkins Flat area and at Red Creek Flat could enhance the experiences available.
"We feel strongly that his activity needs to be preserved or, if possible, sites for dispersed camping need to be increased.
"If it is determined necessary to close some existing dispersed sites we feel it would be very important to develop new sites and would further encourage the Forest Service to consider alternatives such as a rest rotation program before outright closure of sites," says the letter.
Mayor Robert Steele said the main interest of the city is in making certain the canyon remains open to use and the use is in the best interests of the residents of the public.
Councilman Milt Harmon said he was upset about a recent happening. For years, groups climbing Mount Nebo had used a mailbox there to sign a register left for those who made it to the top. "There were names going back many years," he said. "Some mountain group went up there and took it down and put up their own." The history was lost, he said.