State, federal and law enforcement officials are gearing up once again for Easter weekend at the Little Sahara Sand Dunes in western Juab County, where thousands of people and vehicles are expected for the holiday.
"We are prepared for 25,000 to 40,000 people," said Juab County Sheriff Dave Carter. "Usually when there is a long, drawn-out winter like this past one, the holiday draws a really big crowd at the dunes."Traditionally, more than 20,000 people jam the 60,000-acre Bureau of Land Management recreation area for a weekend away from the cities. But law enforcement becomes a challenge, as a "city" is temporarily created in the remote area more than 28 miles west of Nephi and 100 miles south of Provo. In 1977 there were 60,000 visitors.
Carter said there would be an extra force of Utah Highway Patrol troopers, Juab County deputy sheriffs, Juab County Sheriff's Posse members and State Parks and Recreation officers on hand. Once again this year, 24-hour roadblocks will be set up at entrances to the recreation area. All vehicles and some 8,000 are expected will be searched for illegal drugs and liquor. In addition, officers will be looking for expired registrations and inspections.
"The new RV laws state that recreation vehicles cannot even be transported on trailers unless they have registrations and are stickered," Carter said. "Each individual vehicle will be cited even if there are three to four on a trailer unless the owner is complying with the new law."
Carter said recreation vehicle owners should obtain copies of the new laws governing such equipment from the Division of State Parks and Recreation. Law enforcement officers will be strictly enforcing the new laws.
Other traffic violations will also be prosecuted, Carter said. Careless use of any vehicle will be carefully monitored.
"We want the area to be safe for all families, and so we will continue to crack down on lawbreakers," Carter said.
The noise ordinance will also be enforced, he said. Recreation motor vehicles, such as motor bikes and all-terrain vehicles, will not be allowed to be operated in camping areas after 10 p.m. Loud music and disturbing behavior is also against the noise ordinance.
Two medical emergency stations will be set up at the dunes. One will be in the visitor center a mile from the main entrance. The second will be at the Oasis Campground. Emergency medical and search and rescue personnel will be on hand to assist those who have been injured. Those victims who need hospitalization will be transported by ambulances stationed at the dunes for the weekend.
Dispatchers will be on duty for the holiday at the visitor center, Carter said. Equipment will also be set up at the dunes to test for drunken drivers on the spot.
Carter said about 20,000 people are expected inside the park, and at least that many will probably stay in the area in primitive camps. "Many people camp outside the confines of the recreation park in the juniper trees and ride into the dunes over the sand on recreation vehicles," he said.