Major renovation project

in store for 12-Mile Canyon

 

By Robert Stevens

Managing editor

Feb. 15, 2018

 

MANTI-LA SAL NATIONAL FOREST—After an environmental assessment, an enthusiastic public comment period and a lot of planning, Sanpete District Ranger Kyle Beagley of the Forest Service signed a decision notice to begin a major renovation project up 12 Mile Canyon this summer.

On Jan. 26, Beagley signed his 12 Mile Canyon decision, clearing the way for numerous improvement and restoration actions throughout the canyon.

The project area runs from the forest boundary east of Mayfield to its junction with Six Mile Canyon Road (National Forest Service Road [NFSR] 50047).

“In reaching my decision, I sought to carefully and objectively assess all the public comments and the analysis of issues disclosed in the environmental assessment,” Beagley said.

According to the Forest Service plans, the project will be completed over three years, and the 2018 project implementation efforts will be primarily focused on the Spring Hill and Town Reservoir areas.

The plans include road improvements, additional parking areas, management and construction of campsites, a new campsite, installation of new toilet facilities and improved access in various areas along 12 Mile Canyon Road.

But the renovations aren’t all about improvements, according to the project guidelines.

The decision notice indicated that a substantial increase in dispersed camping and OHV use in the 12 Mile Canyon watershed has resulted in a noticeable increase in user-created roads and OHV trails, resulting in a need for improvements and restoration.

The user-created trails and dispersed campgrounds, combined with unstable geology in the area, are having an adverse impact on natural resources, said Beagley.

The decision notice says dispersed campsites, created by OHV users, continue to expand at an unhealthy rate—pushing into adjoining meadows, wetlands and forested areas.

“There is a need to contain motorized use at many dispersed campsites, modify some to mitigate impacts and close others to protect natural resources,” Beagley said.

Unauthorized routes will be closed and barriers will be installed to protect wetlands and other resources.

According to Beagley, the project is also intended to develop resource-sensitive transportation routes that provide access to camping and staging areas in 12 Mile Canyon. The project will also provide camping and trail opportunities and amenities in order to meet the needs of users.

The 12 Mile project was approved after an environmental assessment was completed, including public comment periods and an objection resolution process.

Project documents are available at https://www.fs.usda.gov/project/?project=43989 or can be obtained at the Sanpete District Office, 540 North Main St. in Ephraim. The Ephraim office can be reached at 283-4151.

The public comment period was well participated in, with interest groups and organizations such as Emery County, Hopi Tribe, Sage Riders Motorcycle Club, Sanpete County Public Lands Council, Six County Association of Governments, Utah Farm Bureau Federation and Navajo Nation/Historic Preservation Department.

Feedback on the renovation plan varied, including concerns over reduced access for OHVs and snowmobiles, support from those wishing to see the area preserved and tribal consultants wishing to be consulted on the plan’s effects on cultural resources.

Work will begin this summer said Beagley.