A Nu Skin executive has gated the access road to his 800-acre property in Pole Canyon and is now asking Utah County for its blessing to the closure.
Opponents say it's wrong for a millionaire to come in and decide a public road is no longer to be accessible to hunters and recreation vehicles. They want the road left open to public use as it has been for years.The matter is coming before the County Commission Sept. 30.
Steven J. Lund, president and chief of operations for Nu Skin Asia Pacific, has a cabin in Pole Canyon at the end of a Class D county road coming south from Santaquin.
Class D roads are traditionally roads for public use that are not maintained as city, county, state and federal roads are.
Lund says he's been maintaining and restoring the road to his property at his personal expense. In frustration early this summer, he put up a log frame gateway with an iron rail gate and installed a video photocell camera at the entrance to his cabin estate.
In a letter to the County Commission through his representatives, Gardner & Associates, Lund said his family is endangered and his property harmed by those using the road.
"The expense of maintenance, vandalism, property damage and threat of harm to my family has been increasing with each passing year," he wrote. "Besides the break-ins, I have been concerned for my family's safety as we have had a window shot out and have heard gunshots fired by apparently intoxicated partiers in the middle of the night within 100 yards of the cabin."
Lund said he often finds fire sites off the side of the road, surrounded by flammable vegetation and empty alcohol containers.
If the county will agree to let Lund keep the two miles of road closed to motorized traffic, he has offered to build a 7,500-square-foot parking lot on his property and a trail system that connects to the trails on Division of Wildlife and Uinta National Forest property to the south.
Lund will also maintain the road in its present condition for emergency access.
Division of Wildlife officials say they are concerned about the trend they see in private property owners wanting to shut down public access. However, they support the Lund request because wintering big game have been overly disturbed in the North Nebo Wildlife Management area accessible from Lund's property. Efforts to curb erosion have also been hampered.
Jordan C. Pederson, regional supervisor for the wildlife division, said as long as the road into Lund's property remains open to the public, efforts to close the roads into the nearby and endangered management area will be unsuccessful.
Commissioner Jerry Grover has told Lund in writing that the compromise looks like a workable solution.
"However, it must be pointed out that prescriptive access rights cannot be waived by the County Commission," he said. He advised Lund to petition for vacation of the road - a process that began last week when the commissioners set the date for public hearing.
RD Searle, representing the Lone Peak 4-Wheelers organization, and members of the Kay Tischner family showed up at the Wednesday meeting to object to the road closure. They agreed with what Commissioner David Gardner expects will be the major objection.
"I know what people are going to say: `This has always been a public road, why restrict it for single use? Hunters will be restricted just because a millionaire wants the road closed, and why should he have exclusive use of the road?' " Gardner predicted. "How'd I do?"
"You hit the nail on the head," Tischner said.