Public Comments requested for Escalante State Park

As the Division of Utah State Parks and Recreation develops a resource management plan (RMP) for Escalante State Park, public input is requested from recreationists at a meeting scheduled Wed., April 6, 2005 at 7 p.m.. The RMP will identify issues relating to public use, resource management and future development at the park and make recommendations to guide park managers for the next 10 years.

Park managers note that it is important for park visitors and other concerned citizens to assist in development of this plan. State park planners will discuss the planning process and attendees in an exercise to identify and prioritize issues relating to the park. This planning meeting will be conducted at the Escalante Community Center, 98 North Center Street, Escalante, Utah For additional information, contact Escalante State Park at (435) 826-4466.
Construction underway at East Canyon

Renovation and improvement projects at East Canyon State Park are now underway and will continue over the next several years. This entire project is a 50/50 matching program between Utah State Parks and Recreation and the Bureau of Reclamation.

Phase one at the north end of the park includes a renovated campground with shelters, power and water hook-ups, and selected sites with full hook-ups, as well as new restrooms with showers. Plans also include a new boat ramp, park concession building, and expansion and improvements of utilities, all parking areas and interior roads.

During phase one construction, only tent camping is available on a first-come, first-served basis at the north end. Tent sites include tables and grills, but no fire pits. Camping at the south end in Big Rock and Rivers Edge campgrounds is also available on a first-come, first-served basis.

The park currently does not have a concessionaire, however, park staff is working to secure a temporary provider for rentals and fuel services. For more information, call (801) 829-6866.
Statewide Grooming ends April 1

With the onset of spring conditions across much of the state, the Division of Utah State Parks and Recreation announces an end to its 2005 snowmobile trail grooming season effective April 1.

Utah State Parks operates 11 snowmobile trail groomers on nine distinct snowmobile trail complexes in the state. These complexes stretch from Logan Canyon to Cedar Mountain.

Fred Hayes, OHV program coordinator with the Division of Parks and Recreation, commented, "We've had a tremendous snowmobile season. Since we began grooming in November, our groomers have maintained over 25,000 miles of trail for public use. However, with spring conditions limiting groomer access on many complexes, and with the current budgetary constraints, it is time to wrap up this season."

Hayes says there is still some great riding in some of Utah's high country, but encourages snowmobilers to exercise caution. "Avalanches are still a distinct possibility across much of the state, and snowmobilers should avoid areas where avalanche activity has been noted," added Hayes. "We also encourage all backcountry users to obtain an avalanche advisory before heading out, and to always wear an avalanche beacon and take along a shovel and probe."

Snowmobilers can look forward to new grooming equipment next year in the Monte Cristo and Logan Canyon areas. For additional information, call (801) 538-7220 or 1-800-OHV-RIDE.

Ride with Governor at Jordan River OHV Center

Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) enthusiasts are encouraged to ride with the Governor Sat., April 9 at the Utah State Parks and Recreation Jordan River OHV Center. Governor Huntsman will ride from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. and invites all Utahns to bring their off-highway motorcycles and ride along with him. The public is invited to continue to ride until 3 p.m. Entrance fees are waived for the day.

All riders must wear a helmet and all riders eight and over must possess an OHV certificate or driver's license. Governor Huntsman will sign a declaration designating April 9 as Motocross Kick-Off Day for the 2005 season. Governor Huntsman will also sign a declaration for Motocross Safety Week in Utah to promote motocross riding, safety and education.

The Jordan River OHV Center is located at 2800 North Rose Park Lane. To reach the OHV Training Center, take I-215 to Exit #25 (2200 North). Turn east off exit ramp onto Frontage Road. Travel south on Frontage Road and take first left (east) on Rose Park Lane. Follow Rose Park Lane to Jordan River OHV Center.
Learn How to Catch Walleyes at Free Seminars

Anglers will learn the latest Utah walleye tips and techniques at two free seminars, scheduled in Salt Lake City and Provo. The Fourteenth Annual Utah Walleye Seminar features top walleye anglers from Rocky Mountain Anglers and the Division of Wildlife Resources.

Those who attend the seminars will learn about the best times of year to catch Utah walleye in Utah as well as hot lures and techniques, including trolling, rigging, jigs, crankbaits and live baits.

Ray Schelble of Rocky Mountain Anglers, reported, "The anglers on the panel are local people who fish and manage local waters, including Starvation, Utah Lake, Willard Bay and Lake Powell. Instruction will benefit anglers of all skill levels, from beginning to advanced. Those
who attend will also receive a free booklet about Utah walleye fishing that includes maps of Utah's walleye lakes." A representative from the Division of Wildlife Resources will be among those on the panel.

The first opportunity awaits April 6 from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Department of Natural Resources, located at 1594 W. North Temple in Salt Lake City and the second is scheduled 7 to 9 p.m. on April 13 at Utah Lake State Park, located at 4400 W. Center St (3 miles west off the I-15 Center St. exit) in Provo.

For more information about the Salt Lake City seminar, call the DWR at (801) 538-4700. For more information about the Provo seminar, call (801) 491-5678. Information also is available at
Wolf Plan Ready for Review

Public comment is requested for the first draft of Utah's wolf management plan before April 1. The plan is available on the Internet at . Utah's Wolf Working Group will consider comments as the group drafts its final copy of the plan to present to the public at a series of meetings in May. After considering public comment received at the meetings, the plan will be presented to the Utah Wildlife Board for approval at its June 9 meeting in Salt Lake City.

Wolves are still listed on the federal list of threatened and endangered species and are managed by the federal government. This plan will guide how the Division of Wildlife Resources manages wolves in Utah, if wolves are ever taken off the federal list.

The Wolf Working Group consists of 13 citizens. Sportsmen, wolf advocates, ranchers and people with other wolf-related interests are among those in the group. The DWR assembled the group in the summer of 2003 to draft a plan that will guide the management of wolves that may
one day make their way to Utah from surrounding states.

"The group has worked on this plan for almost two years," said Kevin Bunnell, mammals program coordinator for the DWR. "Now they're anxious to receive comments from the public about it. I would encourage everyone with an interest in wolves to review what the group has done and provide their comments by April 1."

Chronic Wasting Disease Doesn't Appear to be Spreading in Utah

Good news came from chronic wasting disease sampling conducted by the Division of Wildlife Resources this past fall, as this fatal deer and elk disease does not appear to be spreading in Utah. The DWR tested 3,067 samples from deer and elk taken during last fall's hunting seasons and only seven mule deer tested positive for the disease. All of these deer came from the La Sal Mountains in southeastern Utah, which is one of three areas where chronic wasting
disease (CWD) was previously found in Utah.

The seven hunters who took the deer were contacted by the DWR and were made aware of the findings. Leslie McFarlane, wildlife disease specialist for the DWR, commented,"We met our CWD sample goals on most of our units, but fell short in a few of them. We also started testing elk this year. "We collected 405 samples from elk taken in the La Sal Mountains and near Vernal, and none of the samples tested positive for CWD. We'll continue testing both deer and elk in those areas this year."

In addition to the La Sal Mountains, CWD has been found in deer in the Vernal area in the past. A total of 438 deer and 226 elk samples were collected from that area this fall and none of the animals tested positive for CWD. The Fountain Green area in central Utah is the third area where a CWD-positive deer has been found in the past. The DWR tested 607 deer samples from the area last year and did not find CWD in any of the samples.

"It doesn't appear that the disease is spreading to new areas in Utah, and it isn't spreading much even in the areas where we've found it in the past," McFarlane said. "We're happy with what we found in 2004, but there's still more work to do."

McFarlane says the DWR started sampling deer in southwestern and western Utah in 2004. Those are the only areas in the state where CWD sampling had not been done in the past. She commented, "We need at least one more year of data from southwestern and western Utah to determine whether we have CWD in those areas. We also need to continue sampling elk in areas where we've found CWD before we can draw conclusions about whether elk populations in Utah
have CWD. CWD isn't as prevalent in elk as it is in deer, so we're hopeful that we'll find the state's elk herds are unaffected by the disease."

McFarlane says the DWR will continue sampling for CWD across Utah in 2005. In addition, the DWR has started a special study on the La Sal Mountains to learn more about the behavior and migration patterns of deer in the area.

"It's important for people to remember that there is currently no evidence that CWD can be naturally transmitted to humans or livestock," McFarlane noted. "It also does not appear to cause
catastrophic die offs in deer or elk populations." People can learn more about CWD by logging onto the DWR's Web site at

Another excellent source of information is a national Web site ran by the Chronic Wasting Disease Alliance ( ). This site includes links to CWD information on other Web sites, including Wisconsin's, which contains some excellent information about CWD.