Uncovered shafts and piles of possibly toxic remnants of the mining industry dotting the landscape on the southern hills of the Oquirrh Mountains could be life-threatening for offroad enthusiasts, according to the Bureau of Land Management.
The area, commonly known as Five-Mile Pass, is one of the most popular destinations along the Wasatch Front for motor and mountain biking.In the past, the land has been used for mining, farming and pasture for livestock.
Now, the BLM may reclassify the area as a special-recreation management area to make it safe and easily accessible to visitors who want to ride motor or mountain bikes or drive trucks in the area, said Connie Stump, an outdoor recreation planner with the BLM.
Representatives from the BLM will have a town meeting tonight from 7 to 9 p.m. at Lehi High School, 180 N. 500 East, to discuss the proposed land classification.
"To be honest, we don't know how toxic it is or what we have," Stump said. "They've been there since the late 1800s up to the 1930s."
It's difficult to tell if anyone has suffered any effects from the waste dump. Some tests have indicated a few piles are "fairly benign rocks and soil," she said.
The state's Division of Parks and Recreation asked the bureau to help create a land-use blueprint. Stump hopes to have a draft done by July and the plan implemented by next year.
Some $168,000 was given by the state in grants to complete a detailed plan, staff the area with a full-time BLM officer and make some capitol improvements, such as adding restrooms and camp-grounds.
The officer would enforce laws governing the public land. She said she doesn't foresee many restrictions on the use of firearms in the proposed special-recreation district.
Stump also said there are no current plans to start charging the public entrance to the land.
"We're not being specific right now about the plan because we want the public to talk about what they'd like," she said. "This process is to get the public's input on the plan."
Each draft will be presented to the public for comment. Maps and project information will be available at the meeting, Stump said.