4×4 help needed for Desert RATS Sand Mountain cleanup, trail sign project

Desert RATS members and friends meet for a National Public Lands Day cleanup in September 2015, Sand Mountain OHV Area, Hurricane, Utah, Sept. 26, 2015 | Photo courtesy of Desert RATS, St. George News

HURRICANE – The local off-road group Desert Roads and Trails Society will hold its third annual National Public Lands Day cleanup Saturday on Sand Mountain and is looking for volunteers to help out.

Trail signs are ready to go up at Sand Mountain OHV area, photo undated | Photo courtesy of Desert RATS, St. George News
Trail signs are ready to go up at Sand Mountain OHV area, photo undated | Photo courtesy of Kim Pollock for Desert RATS, St. George News

In addition to patrolling for garbage, the Desert RATS will be setting new, permanent trail signs in the popular off-highway area.

Volunteers will cement the steel signs into holes in the sandstone. The holes have already been drilled and the signs welded to posts.

The trail signs are designed to rust on the surface and remain maintenance-free for many years. They will replace Carsonite signs which are frequently broken or stolen.

The custom steel signs display the trail name and difficulty rating, on a scale of 1-10. They also carry the logo of the Bureau of Land Management, the Desert RATS and Utah Public Lands Alliance.

The new signs were purchased through a collaboration with the Bureau of Land Management and Utah Public Lands Alliance, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit volunteer group dedicated to preserving public lands.

“We have an ‘Assistance Agreement’ in place with the non-profit UPLA,” BLM St. George Field Office Recreation Manager Dave Kiel said.

Members of the Desert Roads and Trails Society pick up trash and mark trails in the Sand Mountain OHV Area on National Public Lands Day, Hurricane, Utah, Sept. 26, 2015 | Photo courtesy Desert RATS, exclusive to St. George News
Bud Sanders, board member of Desert RATS, picks up trash in the Sand Mountain OHV Area on National Public Lands Day, Hurricane, Utah, Sept. 26, 2015 | Photo courtesy Desert RATS, St. George News

The partnership helps the BLM meet their public land management goals, he said.

“With the agreement in place, we work together to develop projects,” Kiel said. 

“The funding comes from recreation fees from events like the Winter 4×4 Jamboree, the Tri-state ATV Jamboree and from fees collected from guides and outfitters who operate on public lands.”

Past UPLA-BLM projects have included construction of the new Ridgeline Trail and the current sign project. Installation of a composting toilet on Sand Mountain is in the works, Kiel said.

Fees collected by the St. George Field Office are kept in a special fund that can only be used for recreation and must stay in the office where the money was collected.

“It’s probably one of the smartest and best things that Congress ever did,” Kiel said in an earlier interview, noting the funds collected have to be spent on recreation. “All that money stays right here and goes right back into recreation.”

Desert RATS Sand Mountain cleanup event in Sand Hollow State Park, Hurricane, Utah, Sept. 27, 2014 | Photo courtesy of Eric Beard, St. George News
Torrential rains during the Desert RATS cleanup event in 2014 made for an interesting day at Sand Mountain OHV area, Hurricane, Utah, Sept. 27, 2014 | Photo courtesy of Eric Beard, St. George News

The Sand Mountain Special Recreation Area is one of the few “open travel” areas designated for off-road use.

On most land managed by BLM and U.S. Forest Service, vehicles are required to stay on the trail and new trails cannot be built or made.

The Desert RATS is a local, family-friendly 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving and promoting responsible use of public lands in Southern Utah; the group sponsors the Winter 4×4 Jamboree as a fundraiser each January.

The group holds frequent cleanup events; National Public Lands Day events were held in 2014 and 2015.


Read more: Desert RATS Sand Mountain cleanup took desert by storm


Event details

Map courtesy of Google Maps, St. George News
Water tanks near Sand Hollow Reservoir | Map courtesy of Google Maps, St. George News
  • What: Cleanup and sign placement in Sand Mountain OHV Area.
  • When: Saturday, Sept. 24, at 8 a.m.
  • Where: Sand Mountain OHV Area. Meet at the water tanks near Sand Hollow State Park.
  • Directions: Take the Southern Parkway east to the intersection with Sand Hollow Road. Turn left onto a dirt road and proceed up the hill to the water tanks. See map.
  • Who: Anyone with a four-wheel drive vehicle is invited to help. Stock vehicles are suitable for some cleanup and sign placement; trail runs vary in difficulty.

Email: japplegate@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

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