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JUAB DISPUTES CLOSURE OF ROAD

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Juab County commissioners agreed to challenging the right of the Forest Service to close public access roads in the wilderness area of Mount Nebo.

Nephi Mayor Robert asked commissioners to write the letter noting that a congressional resolution governing rights of way on federal land was repealed in 1976. He said regulations implemented to replace the resolution were to be subject to all valid existing rights."The road up Gardener Canyon (on Mount Nebo) and the Gardener Canyon Trail has been public access for over 100 years," said Steele. He said the road, up to the iron pipe that crosses the creek there, was maintained by the county and was part of the county B-road system. The road was also, from time to time, worked on by those with private interests, he said.

"In 1989, the Forest Service stopped the county from maintaining the road up the canyon on forest service property," said Steele. He said the Forest Service later built an iron gate and locked it from all motorized vehicle travel.

"This is a violation of county, state, and federal law and I am asking you, the county commissioners, to challenge the forest service and reopen this public access," said Steele.

Steele said the irrigation company had access to the road for more than 100 years. The road was always public access, he said. It predated the Forest Service.

Don Eyre Jr., county attorney, said he would research the issue to find out if the supremacy law took precedence over public access laws.

Steele said Millard County had challenged the right of the Forest Service to lock previously public access roads. In all the records, studies, and challenges, said Steele, everything comes back to the valid, existing rights. The right to maintain a pre-wilderness water line should be a valid use, said Steele, and should be recognized.

Other prior rights should also be recognized, he said.

"I have been locked out of my property for four years," said Steele.

Karen McPherson said she would appreciate being apprised of any action on road use. "We are up the same canyon," she said.

Ike Lunt, county commissioner, reported that the county lobbyist in Washington, D.C., had been working to oppose road closures and had been working with Utah's Washington delegation.

Eula and Jack Howard and Jack Danzie were also interested in any information the commission might obtain concerning the status of public access to the closed roads. They, too, are interested property owners.

One law those owning property in the area are concerned about allows the government to declare a road abandoned if it has not been used in six years. The property owners are concerned the ruling might apply even if they have been locked out.

In 1991, commissioners sent a letter to the Department of Natural Resources, said Lunt. In the letter, commissioners explained the county had "continually provided maintenance on the access roads to the Gardener Canyon Mine sites under the county "B" Road System."

"This action was stopped in respect to a U.S. Forest directive, which noted the enforcement of a new Unita National Forest Boundary," read the letter commissioners sent at the time.