Exhibits: Resources: ATV Use
A Fish(lake) Story
Fishlake National Forest stretches northward across three mountain ranges in south central Utah. Along the flank of the mountains lie hardworking Mormon communities such as Fillmore, Circleville, Marysvale, Richfield. A traveler on Highway 89 crosses a pastoral landscape of lush fields, tidy towns, grazing cattle.
No one seems to know or remember when All Terrain Vehicles (or ATVs) first appeared in this part of Utah but, like snowmobiles, they were originally intended for utilitarian, work-saving purposes. These three and later four-wheeled conveyances were powered by tough four-stroke engines and their small size and big, fat tires enabled them to cross rough terrain with ease. Farmers and ranchers loved them. So did their kids and soon they were driving them to go fishing, hunting, or just riding them for the fun of it. Riding them on the farms and ranches, on rural roads, and then on public lands, which began, most of the time, where the ranches and farms ended.
What happened next was a convergence of several things, all taking place in the late 1980s. It started with the widespread acceptance of ATVs as a "must have" item on every farm and ranch, and even among townspeople whose land holdings consisted of nothing more than a vegetable garden in back yard. Utahns took to ATVs like the proverbial duck to water. They still do.
Pretty soon the ubiquitous ATVs were everywhere. Unfortunately, "everywhere" was, most of the time, on public lands. And these free-wheeling, freedom-loving, "ain't nobody can tell you what to do" folks literally ran over those lands, tearing up the landscape, leaving trash behind, and generally working toward becoming a major environmental pain in the neck.
Predictably, the abuse of public lands evoked a response from the agencies in charge of them. Roads and old trails were closed to ATV use on public lands managed by the Forest Service and BLM. Hunters and anglers could no longer drive to their favorite public lands destination. Folks were unhappy and began to voice their opposition to the closure of these access routes. An answer soon presented itself: why not establish a trail system connecting lightly used roads on BLM or Forest Service-managed public lands with trails constructed specifically to accommodate ATVs? These trails would allow access from community to public lands while others would be closed to preserve environmentally sensitive areas. In 1990 the main loop of the Paiute ATV Trail was laid out, extending through four counties and crossing three mountain ranges.
All material copyright ©2002 - 2018, Public Lands Interpretive Association except photographs where ownership is otherwise indicated. All rights reserved.