‘Winter 4×4 Jamboree’ organizers roll out $41,000 in donations

L to R: Kent McKee, Jeff Bieber; Sgt. Darrell Cashin and Joe McArthur during check presentation at Dixie 4 Wheel Drive in St. George, Utah, Feb. 6, 2018 | Photo courtesy of Desert Roads and Trails Society, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — In spite of it being cold with some scattered snow, the “Winter 4×4 Jamboree” was a remarkable success this year, with $33,500 raised and donated to land-use organizations and $7,500 donated to Washington County Search and Rescue, with a check presentation made Tuesday.

The event benefits the local economy as well – infusing some $1.6 million last year alone – because a majority of its participants come from outside the region.

More than 600 vehicles entered the Winter 4×4 Jamboree, a 3-day event held at the Sand Hollow State Park, Washington County, Utah, Jan 19, 2018 | Photo courtesy of Desert Rats, St. George News

The fourth annual Winter 4×4 Jamboree was held Jan. 18-20, sponsored and organized by Desert Roads and Trails Society, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to promoting responsible use of public lands.

During the event, more than 1,000 people in 600 vehicles were guided on 29 different trails, mostly in the Sand Mountain Special Recreation Management Area adjacent to Sand Hollow State Park. More than 130 volunteers assisted in trail guding and running the event.

The jamboree has grown over the course of four years, increasing in entries, participants and in revenue, Desert Rats president Jeff Bieber said.

It offers numerous trails designed for everyone and, as Desert Rats member Julie Applegate said in January, the trails go “from mild to wild,” adding that they run the gamut from a two rating, graded dirt road, to a 10 rating, those restricted to buggies only with rollovers likely.

Off-road vehicles climbing rocks during the Winter 4×4 Jamboree, a 3-day event held at the Sand Hollow State Park, Washington County, Utah, Jan 19, 2018 | Photo courtesy of Desert RATS, St. George News

The primary focus of the affair is to protect and preserve existing trails and routes “for everyone to enjoy, and to make sure these lands are available for our children and grandchildren,” Bieber said.

Fueling that purpose is fundraising. With more than 600 entries this year the event raised enough money to allow Desert Rats to donate $22,500 to the Utah Public Lands Alliance, a Southern Utah group fighting to protect Sand Mountain; $10,000 to Utah 4 Wheel Drive Association; $500 to Tread Lightly, part of a national initiative to protect and enhance recreation access and promotes outdoor ethics; $500 to the Blue Ribbon Coalition and $7,500 from the Washington County Search and Rescue program.

Desert Rats presented its $7,500 donation to search and rescue coordinator and liaison, sheriff’s Sgt. Darrell Cashin, Tuesday evening at Dixie 4-Wheel Drive, 73 N. 900 East, St. George.

The funds will facilitate the continued growth of the search and rescue program, Cashin said, adding that the donation couldn’t have come at a better time.

Washington County’s search and rescue program includes multiple teams. One in particular, the medical team, is a “relatively new team,” Cashin said, so a portion of the donation has been earmarked for medical supplies and much needed equipment that will replace outdated medical equipment currently in use.

Snow hits the area during the Winter 4×4 Jamboree, a 3-day event held at the Sand Hollow State Park, Washington County, Utah, Jan 19, 2018 | Photo courtesy of Desert RATS, St. George News

Search and rescues in the county are seeing a shift in demographics, Cashin said, with most of them over the last year involving local residents rather than people visiting from other areas.

“It used to be that 65 percent of the people we rescued were not from the area, but now that number is down in the 50 to 60 percent range,” he said.

Further, overall rescue numbers continue to rise, prompting the push to expand.

Washington County Search and Rescue team members were also on hand during the jamboree to provide rescue services or medical support for participants. It’s something they look forward to participating in every year, Cashin said.

Referring to the donation, Cashin called Desert Rats “a great group to work with.”

“We were very surprised at the donation amount,” he said, “as it was more than I was even thinking and am a little shocked.”

The $41,000 donated to various entities was raised through entry fees, apparel sales and sponsors, Bieber said, surpassing last year’s amount of a little more than $27,000.

Although estimates on this year’s yield to the region were not immediately available, in 2017 the event brought an estimated $1.6 million into the Southern Utah economy, according to the St. George Area Sports Commission. That year, Bieber said, 80 percent of the participants were from outside the region.


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Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.


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