Spring heralds the arrival of hordes of visitors to San Juan
Spring has arrived in the Canyon Country, and its arrival also marks a significant increase in visitation.
Because of a host of social distancing restrictions that have been implemented in Grand County due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the annual Moab Easter Jeep Safari is having a larger impact on northern San Juan County.
The Jeep Safari, which attracts thousands of Four Wheel enthusiasts each year, is hosting a large number of the popular guided rides in locations centered in San Juan County.
In addition, San Juan County is the location of a large vendor fair at the business park in Spanish Valley and at outdoor events at Area BFE south of Spanish Valley.
It is anticipated that local law enforcement officials and search and rescue operations will be called upon as hordes of visitors recreate on public lands.
Public lands are an important part of many family traditions, especially during spring holidays, and public lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) will experience an increase in visitation surrounding Easter weekend.
Last year, the BLM Utah estimates there were almost 8.4 million visits to public lands across the state, and visitation dramatically increases as temperatures start to warm up.
The BLM asks visitors to plan ahead and follow local, State and Federal guidelines, laws, and regulations to ensure a safe visit.
Some BLM-developed recreation sites and areas may have limited services. Campgrounds, restrooms, trailheads, rivers, and recreation sites may have restrictions or new operating procedures in place.
For the latest updates on the operating status of sites and facilities, individuals should contact the local office and/or visit the BLM Utah website at www.blm.gov/alert/utah-operations.
The safety of employees and visitors is the BLM’s highest priority. BLM staff are hard at work managing public lands to help the public recreate safely and to protect resources.
While some visitor centers or field offices may still limit in-person services, you can still reach local BLM staff by phone or email.
Many sites are currently open and, as you consider visiting public lands, please:
• Follow guidance from local, State, and Federal authorities, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
• Do not congregate at trailheads or other outdoor spaces. Have a backup plan so you can still enjoy the outdoors even if the area you are trying to visit is full or too crowded.
• Please follow the CDC’s social distancing guidelines and keep at least a six-foot distance from BLM staff and other public land users while you are recreating. Use a mask when physical distances cannot be maintained.
Visitors to public lands should be self-reliant and come prepared to recreate responsibly. Tips include:
• Plan to pack out your trash. Trash receptacles overflow quickly during busy weekends, improperly disposed of trash is a health hazard and harmful to wildlife.
• Proper human waste management is important to preserve natural areas and for public health. The organization Leave No Trace provides tips and best practices to dispose of waste properly here: https://lnt.org/why/7-principles/dispose-of-waste-properly/. Come prepared with a disposable toilet system in the event restrooms are unavailable.
• There have already been a number of concerning human-caused fires this year. Please remember to extinguish campfires completely, ensure spark arresters on off highway vehicles are working properly, and never detonate fireworks on BLM public land. Please do not use explosive targets during recreational shooting; use is currently illegal in Utah.
• The weather can change quickly on public lands. Bring layers of clothing, plan accordingly, and check the weather prior to visiting. If rain is in the forecast, do not enter any slot canyons or areas that are prone to flooding.
• Travel on designated motorized routes and trails. Do not create new trails or bypasses around obstacles.
• Reduce your impact on dispersed camping areas by choosing existing, previously disturbed sites. Do not create new sites in undisturbed areas.
• Let someone know your itinerary and the time you expect to return. Share a plan of action if you miss anticipated check-in times.
• More information about planning ahead can be found at www.blm.gov/programs/recreation/know-before-you-go.