Proposal to create Utah state park at historic Hole-in-the-Rock gaining traction

Waterbaby

Moderator
Staff member
#1
http://www.sltrib.com/home/4789600-155/proposal-to-create-utah-state-park

Proposal to create Utah state park at historic Hole-in-the-Rock gaining traction
By BRIAN MAFFLY | The Salt Lake Tribune

First Published Feb 20 2017 08:00AM • Last Updated Feb 20 2017 09:48 am
Utah Legislature has approved HB63, authorizing state parks officials to pursue a deal with federal land managers.


Nearly a century and a half ago, Mormon pioneers cut a trail through a natural cleft in the north wall of Glen Canyon, using shovels, picks and dynamite. Their historic passage through what became known as Hole-in-the-Rock in the winter of 1879-80 is still evident today.

Visitors can see anchor points the San Juan Expedition members used to carefully lower their wagons down the steep crevice to the Colorado River.

"It is probably the most well-preserved pioneer trail in the United States because it is so remote," said Rosemary Sucec, a cultural resources specialist with the National Park Service. "There are places where you come up on it and it was like [the pioneers] left two weeks ago."

But now a move is gaining traction to establish a Utah state park on as much as 6,000 acres near the famous Hole-in-the-Rock.

Its remoteness, a two-hour drive down a rugged road from Escalante, has helped keep this spot undeveloped, despite a growing interest among heritage organizations to connect Mormon youth with the heroic journeys of pioneer ancestors.

Little in the way of water, campgrounds, trailheads or staging areas are available at end of the Hole-in-the-Rock road in Glen Canyon Nation Recreation Area. Rules that limit group sizes to 12 people also are an obstacle, since organizations prefer taking parties exceeding 100.

Former Garfield County commissioner Dell LeFevre urged lawmakers to improve access, saying, "One more state park is not going to hurt anything in Garfield County."

The Boulder rancher's great-great grandfather built the barges that ferried pioneer families across the river, and later established a trading post there.

"You can see the footprints in the rock where the wagons went down. We need this thing bad. It is everybody who is going to enjoy this thing," LeFevre said.

The Legislature granted the County Commission's request last week when it approved HB63 with near-unanimity, authorizing the Utah Division of State Parks and Recreation to pursue a land acquisition or lease agreement with the federal government to operate a park.

In an era marked by tense friction, the state park idea marks a rare concurrence between local officials and federal land managers, who agree Hole-in-the-Rock warrants greater interpretive attention given the expedition's importance to Utah history and culture.

The perilous six-month journey was a signature achievement of Mormon settlement in southeastern Utah. No lives were lost and two babies were born on the trip from Paragonah to Bluff, which was supposed to have taken only six weeks.

The National Park Service and Bureau of Land Management lack the resources to develop and manage the site, and these agencies have already entered into discussions with Garfield officials about a partnership.

"We are always looking for economic development opportunities with our counties," said Glen Canyon Superintendent Billy Shott.

But the park proposal can only work if it can cover its costs, state officials say.

"We don't know what this is until we get further marching orders from the Legislature or complete a study. We would look more at a joint management scenario" with federal agencies, state parks chief Fred Hayes said.

"We know the population of the state is increasing," he said. "Whether we like it or not, people are coming. We need places for them to recreate because that's why they are coming."

Officials envision the park being headquartered at the Escalante Heritage Center in Escalante.

The park service is completing a study, exploring whether to designate Hole-in-the-Rock a traditional cultural property, or TCP. Such designations are based on a site's associations with the cultural practices, traditions, arts or social institutions of a living community, and are usually associated with Native Americans. The park service recently nominated Utah's Rainbow Bridge for TCP status.

Sucec called Hole-in-the-Rock a "living landscape" because of the intense feelings the area invokes in people who visit.

She described transformative experiences of young Mormons struck by the magnitude of the challenges overcome by the San Juan pioneers on the expedition. Of the 250 members, 83 were children.

"When you go there, you get a sense of your ancestors and what they endured. Wouldn't they want that kind of integrity of the place to remain even in the context of development?" she asked. "That is a dialogue that has to occur between the park service and the state and the county."

While wilderness advocates are skeptical of a proposal that expands state control over protected lands, the National Parks Conservation Association remains open to a state park.

"Building the relationship between federal land managers and state parks is a good thing; it does enable visitation and interpretation," said David Nimkin, southwest regional director. "We would be supportive of accommodating that. The details, the numbers of people, construction would have to fall under the National Environmental Policy Act. In this climate it would take a lot of negotiation."

 

Bill Sampson

Well-Known Member
#2
http://www.sltrib.com/home/4789600-155/proposal-to-create-utah-state-park

Proposal to create Utah state park at historic Hole-in-the-Rock gaining traction
By BRIAN MAFFLY | The Salt Lake Tribune

First Published Feb 20 2017 08:00AM • Last Updated Feb 20 2017 09:48 am
Utah Legislature has approved HB63, authorizing state parks officials to pursue a deal with federal land managers.


Nearly a century and a half ago, Mormon pioneers cut a trail through a natural cleft in the north wall of Glen Canyon, using shovels, picks and dynamite. Their historic passage through what became known as Hole-in-the-Rock in the winter of 1879-80 is still evident today.

Visitors can see anchor points the San Juan Expedition members used to carefully lower their wagons down the steep crevice to the Colorado River.

"It is probably the most well-preserved pioneer trail in the United States because it is so remote," said Rosemary Sucec, a cultural resources specialist with the National Park Service. "There are places where you come up on it and it was like [the pioneers] left two weeks ago."

But now a move is gaining traction to establish a Utah state park on as much as 6,000 acres near the famous Hole-in-the-Rock.

Its remoteness, a two-hour drive down a rugged road from Escalante, has helped keep this spot undeveloped, despite a growing interest among heritage organizations to connect Mormon youth with the heroic journeys of pioneer ancestors.

Little in the way of water, campgrounds, trailheads or staging areas are available at end of the Hole-in-the-Rock road in Glen Canyon Nation Recreation Area. Rules that limit group sizes to 12 people also are an obstacle, since organizations prefer taking parties exceeding 100.

Former Garfield County commissioner Dell LeFevre urged lawmakers to improve access, saying, "One more state park is not going to hurt anything in Garfield County."

The Boulder rancher's great-great grandfather built the barges that ferried pioneer families across the river, and later established a trading post there.

"You can see the footprints in the rock where the wagons went down. We need this thing bad. It is everybody who is going to enjoy this thing," LeFevre said.

The Legislature granted the County Commission's request last week when it approved HB63 with near-unanimity, authorizing the Utah Division of State Parks and Recreation to pursue a land acquisition or lease agreement with the federal government to operate a park.

In an era marked by tense friction, the state park idea marks a rare concurrence between local officials and federal land managers, who agree Hole-in-the-Rock warrants greater interpretive attention given the expedition's importance to Utah history and culture.

The perilous six-month journey was a signature achievement of Mormon settlement in southeastern Utah. No lives were lost and two babies were born on the trip from Paragonah to Bluff, which was supposed to have taken only six weeks.

The National Park Service and Bureau of Land Management lack the resources to develop and manage the site, and these agencies have already entered into discussions with Garfield officials about a partnership.

"We are always looking for economic development opportunities with our counties," said Glen Canyon Superintendent Billy Shott.

But the park proposal can only work if it can cover its costs, state officials say.

"We don't know what this is until we get further marching orders from the Legislature or complete a study. We would look more at a joint management scenario" with federal agencies, state parks chief Fred Hayes said.

"We know the population of the state is increasing," he said. "Whether we like it or not, people are coming. We need places for them to recreate because that's why they are coming."

Officials envision the park being headquartered at the Escalante Heritage Center in Escalante.

The park service is completing a study, exploring whether to designate Hole-in-the-Rock a traditional cultural property, or TCP. Such designations are based on a site's associations with the cultural practices, traditions, arts or social institutions of a living community, and are usually associated with Native Americans. The park service recently nominated Utah's Rainbow Bridge for TCP status.

Sucec called Hole-in-the-Rock a "living landscape" because of the intense feelings the area invokes in people who visit.

She described transformative experiences of young Mormons struck by the magnitude of the challenges overcome by the San Juan pioneers on the expedition. Of the 250 members, 83 were children.

"When you go there, you get a sense of your ancestors and what they endured. Wouldn't they want that kind of integrity of the place to remain even in the context of development?" she asked. "That is a dialogue that has to occur between the park service and the state and the county."

While wilderness advocates are skeptical of a proposal that expands state control over protected lands, the National Parks Conservation Association remains open to a state park.

"Building the relationship between federal land managers and state parks is a good thing; it does enable visitation and interpretation," said David Nimkin, southwest regional director. "We would be supportive of accommodating that. The details, the numbers of people, construction would have to fall under the National Environmental Policy Act. In this climate it would take a lot of negotiation."

It would be great if they could upgrade and maintain the road going in there.
 

Waterbaby

Moderator
Staff member
#7
If the Cut and area above the Cut become a State Park would we be required to pay a State Park entrance fee to step off the boat?
Good question. I know here on Havasu 99% of the campsites are BLM and a fee is required to launch as well as pull into and use a BLM site, even if you are out for the day cruising the lake and pull in to rest and have lunch. Used to be your launch fee/ticket covered this - now they charge you twice...... but if you went to the few spots under the State of AZ they charged you again since it was under a different entity...... so if Utah follows suit - and I imagine they will - then they would charge you a separate fee. We already know they are relentless up around Halls and Bullfrog looking for boats not properly registered...
 

Dale

Well-Known Member
#9
So, how bad is the road from Escalante to Hole in the Rock? Would like to see it from the top, since boating and climbing do no longer work for 2 worn out people.
 

Gem Morris

Well-Known Member
#10
I went down it to Peekaboo and Spooky in October - that's about 1/3rd if the way to Hole in the Rock. It wasn't bad. I wasn't aware that the county wasn't maintaining it anymore but that does make sense.

In years past I have been on it when it was so bad my tail gate rattled off my pickup - true story - it can get really bad.
 
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Dale

Well-Known Member
#12
The washboards on that road are the worst I've ever seen. Let some air out of your tires to smooth out the ride.
When was that? Got a Jeep Grand Cherokee with 20" wheels, so not a lot of room there for deflation. Would be a long painful ride in the Polaris Ranger with my back.
 
#13
Ranger would be a lot better than the Jeep with low profiles. It would need to be street legal as soon as you cross the cattle guard onto GCRA there are signs for no off-road vehicles past that point. Of course the Jeep is an off-road vehicle so the signs are as clear as mud right! The last few miles gets rough over red rock and a few small ledges that are mostly filled in with rocks. Your 20" rims might get beat up.
 

Dale

Well-Known Member
#15
Ranger would be a lot better than the Jeep with low profiles. It would need to be street legal as soon as you cross the cattle guard onto GCRA there are signs for no off-road vehicles past that point. Of course the Jeep is an off-road vehicle so the signs are as clear as mud right! The last few miles gets rough over red rock and a few small ledges that are mostly filled in with rocks. Your 20" rims might get beat up.
Just so I understand, I could trailer the Ranger behind the Jeep most of the way?
 
#17
Dale Sure you could do that. My FJ Crusier I would be traveling at about 10-15 MPH so the wash board doesn't beat me up. Let the air down and I might be able to hit 20 MPH. With my Polaris RZR I could probably run 40 MPH with exception to the last few miles. Go have some fun. There is a lot to see out there.
 

Dale

Well-Known Member
#18
Dale Sure you could do that. My FJ Crusier I would be traveling at about 10-15 MPH so the wash board doesn't beat me up. Let the air down and I might be able to hit 20 MPH. With my Polaris RZR I could probably run 40 MPH with exception to the last few miles. Go have some fun. There is a lot to see out there.
Thanks to all. Will have to try it!
 
#19
Upper part of road is gravel. It's gonna get washboarded. I haven't been all the way down. Knowing the state, they wouldn't have $$ to maintain the whole thing, let alone pave it. They might pave, or paintain gravel on just the State Park portion, and would paving that road the last mile or 2 before the cut be worth the money? And would it be fitting to pave the road to a monument of the Pioneer's accomplishment in hand cutting a trail down a cliff?

Given it's location, this would be the least visited state park in the state. Leave it be.
 
#20
One question... anyone know how deep the lake is where the Hole-In-The-Rock trail meets the lake? Obviously, gonna be less trail if the lake ever gets back to high water levels, but there is still a few hundred feet of cut above the water, right?