Search and rescue teams, public lands get assist from 4X4 Jamboree

A trail leader guides a driver through an obstacle during the 2020 Winter 4x4 Jamboree, Sand Mountain, Utah, January 2020 | Photo courtesy of Desert Roads and Trails Society, St. George News

HURRICANE — The 6th annual Winter 4×4 Jamboree drew more than 850 vehicles and generated $50,000 in donations to land-use organizations and Washington County Search and Rescue.

Winter 4×4 Jamboree participants get ready to take off on a trail ride, Jan 19, 2020, at the Washington County Fairgrounds | Photo courtesy of Desert Roads and Trails Society, St. George News

The event, held each third weekend in January and based at the county fairgrounds, is hosted by the local nonprofit Desert Roads and Trails Society, or Desert RATS.

This year, $30,000 was donated to the Utah Public Lands Alliance, $12,000 to Washington County Search and Rescue, $7,000 to the Utah 4 Wheel Drive Association and $1,000 to the Blue Ribbon Coalition.

“We appreciate all of the help that we’ve gotten from the Desert Roads and Trails Society,” Gil Meacham, Utah Public Lands Alliance president, said at a check presentation ceremony on Feb. 3. “They’ve been our main contributor for the last six years.”

Utah Public Lands Alliance is a Southern Utah nonprofit dedicated to protecting Sand Mountain. Meacham also thanked Utah State Parks and the Bureau of Land Management for their contributions.

“We really appreciate all the support … it makes it easier for us to go out and maintain trails and also we have an emergency fund in case we have to do any litigation.”

Washington County Chief Deputy Nate Brooksby, who accepted a check on behalf of Search and Rescue, said they have been working with the Winter 4×4 Jamboree for a couple of years.

“It’s been a great partnership,” Brooksby said. “The participants, when they see our guys up there – we have EMS, we have medical supplies, so if there is a need for medical attention then we can have guys on the ground to start providing that. Anything major, we can have Life Flight out there in a matter of minutes,” he said. “So, it’s been really beneficial for us and for the Jamboree.”

Search and Rescue had personnel staged at the front and end of trails, and at critical places in between. In addition, trail leaders were supplied with handheld radios in case they need to contact emergency personnel.

“It’s a pretty big mountain out there, he said, referring to the Sand Mountain Special Recreation Management Area adjacent to Sand Hollow State Park, where many of the Jamboree’s more difficult trails runs are held.

“It’s a really good feeling, having search and rescue so close by and available,” Desert RATS trustee Julie Lindquist said. “We love having them involved with our event and we really appreciate their willingness to help out.”

The sixth annual Winter 4×4 Jamboree was held Jan. 16-18, and was sponsored and organized by Desert Roads and Trails Society, a St. George-based nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting the responsible use of public lands.

Winter 4×4 Jamboree participants get ready to take off on a trail ride, Jan 19, 2020, at the Washington County Fairgrounds | Photo courtesy of Desert Roads and Trails Society, St. George News

In addition to rock crawling runs on Sand Mountain, several milder trails showed participants some of the most scenic areas in Washington County.

After trail runs during the day, hundreds of Jamboree participants returned to enjoy the three-day off-road vendor show at the Washington County Fairgrounds, where many of the participants won prizes donated by vendors and sponsors.

“The event was a huge success,” Desert Roads and Trails Society President and event coordinator Jeff Bieber said. “We’re really happy with the turnout. It was the biggest Jamboree so far.”

Almost 160 volunteers from both the Desert Roads and Trails Society and the

Utah Public Lands Alliance helped with the event. Many of the volunteers worked for months to make the event a success, Bieber said.

The event also generates nearly $1 million in economic impact, said Doug Boyer of the Greater Zion Convention and Tourism Office.

“What I really love about this event and the people that participate is that they really care about the land that they use. They take good care and make sure that they are using the area responsibly and they put in a lot of volunteer hours taking care of the area that they use,” Boyer said.

“The group does an amazing job with the organization of the event and they have people from all over the country and world come to participate.”

More than 90% of participants travel from outside of Washington County, Lindquist said. About half are from northern Utah, about a fifth from Nevada. In addition, several dozen each come from Arizona, California and Colorado. The rest are from all over the United States.

“And we had one from Alberta, Canada,” Lindquist said.

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2020, all rights reserved.

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