ST. GEORGE – A draft business plan has been proposed for the Red Cliffs Recreation Area that would increase fees to help cover operating costs. It is also proposed that the recreation area’s boundaries be adjusted in order to provide additional facilities and points of interest for visitors. The Bureau of Land Management is taking public comment on the draft business plan until Feb. 8.
The Red Cliffs Recreation Area is located 15 miles north of St. George and is situated within the Red Cliffs National Conservation Area. An estimated 37,000 people visited the area in 2012. Visitors use the recreation area for camping, hiking and picnicking.
Water fills rock pools and creeks in the springtime:
Youth from Cedar City’s Sonrise Christian Fellowship enjoying Red Cliffs Recreation Area, Utah, May 2011 | Video courtesy of Jim Vasquez, Sonrise Christian Fellowship, St. George News
Proposal to increase fees
According to the BLM, the last time fees were raised in the Red Cliffs Recreation Area was 1997. Since then, operating costs have “risen substantially.” There has been a cost increase of 34.2 percent since that time. Fee revenues are used to cover the cost of contractual services (janitorial, toilet pumping, etc) and Emergency Medical Services. Fees currently cover approximately 77 percent of these costs, which make up around 23 percent of the total average annual operating cost of the recreation area.
“The goal of a fee increase would be to cover 100 percent of the average annual operating cost of contractual services, E/M/S, and maintain a one year average balance in fee revenues,” the draft business plan states.
Increases to recreation area fees would occur in the following manner:
- Day-use fees would rise from $2 per carload to $5
- Overnight camping fees would rise from $8 to $15
- Annual day-use passes would be $75, and senior annual day-use passes would be $35
According to Dawna Ferris-Rowley, manager of the Beaver Dam Wash and Red Cliffs National Conservation Areas, “The proposed fee levels would continue to be below those charged by other federal and state recreation facilities with similar amenities in this region.”
If revenue fees do not increase, the Red Cliffs Recreation Area faces an estimated shortfall of $14,700 for the 2012 fiscal year. If fees are raised and the recreation area’s boundaries are adjusted to include new facilities and points of interest, a surplus of $23,700 is projected for the year.
Kyle Voyles, NCA Outdoor Recreation Planner, said if the fee-increase is not approved, then the Red Cliffs Recreation Area would be forced to cut back on visitor facilities, as well as the maintenance to remaining facilities.
“The public would notice (the change) really quick,” he said.
The Red Cliffs Recreation area currently covers around 1,200 acres. The proposed boundary adjustment will move the bulk of the recreation area to the east along Interstate 15, but also add pre-existing visitor amenities and points of interest. The adjustment would also reduce the size of the recreation area to 870 acres.
Voyles said a large part of the current area – about 800 acres worth – is wilderness area that is not viable for recreational use.
“It doesn’t make sense to keep it,” he said, and added the boundary adjustment would increase the usable recreation-area, despite an estimated loss of 330 acres overall.
Remaining within the boundaries of the recreation area:
- The Silver Reef dinosaur track site
- The Red Cliffs campground
- The Red Cliffs archaeological site
To be added with the proposed boundary adjustment:
- The Curdura movie set
- The Orson D. Adams House
- The McMullin House
- The White Reef Trailhead
The draft plan notes the acquisition is expected not only to add new points of interests for visitors, but also additional trails, parking, and facilities. Increased opportunities for the public to volunteer in “a wide range of cultural, recreational and natural projects” are also anticipated.
The public is invited to provide written comments on the Red Cliffs Recreation Area Draft Business Plan during the 30-day comment period which is open until Feb. 8, 2013. Please reference the Red Cliffs Recreation Area when submitting comments.
Written comments should be mailed to:
Bureau of Land Management, St. George Field Office
Red Cliffs National Conservation Area, Attn: Kyle Voyles, NCA Outdoor Recreation Planner
345 East Riverside Dr.
St. George, UT 84790
Written comments may also be submitted via email. Please include “Red Cliffs Recreation Area” in the subject line and send comments to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Before including your address, phone number, email address, or other personal identifying information in your comment, you should be aware that your entire comment – including your personal identifying information – may be made publicly available at any time. While you can ask us in your comment to withhold your personal identifying information from public review, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so. BLM will not consider anonymous comments.
All submissions from organizations and businesses, and from individuals identifying themselves as representatives or officials of organizations or businesses, will be available for public inspection in their entirety.
An electronic copy of the draft business plan can be acquired here. Copies can also be reviewed at the BLM-Utah St. George Field Office, 345 E. Riverside Drive, St. George, Utah.
Copyright St. George News, StGeorgeUtah.com Inc., 2013, all rights reserved.