Thursday , June 08, 2017 - 5:00 AM2 comments
Now where can Northern Utahns go if they like to have a drink while relaxing on a beach?
“We may see folks end up going to Willard or East Canyon,” Weber County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Brandon Toll said Tuesday.
The Weber County Commission voted May 30 to ban alcohol on beaches, trails and parking lots at Pineview and Causey reservoirs. The new rule takes effect June 14. Officials cited trash and alcohol-fueled incidents, including fights and assaults, that made the beaches unpleasant for families and created an enforcement burden for police.
Opponents said the ban unfairly punishes people who drink responsibly and need inexpensive places for recreation.
Most state and national parks in Utah allow alcohol, with some site-specific restrictions. Willard Bay, East Canyon and Bear Lake state parks have public beach or camping areas that Pineview and Causey refugees might consider.
Alcohol is prohibited at most city parks in Northern Utah, except for specifically permitted events. However, Toll said other Weber County-managed parks that have campgrounds still permit alcohol in most cases. They include Weber Memorial, North Fork and Fort Buenaventura parks.
“There we’re dealing with people staying overnight,” Toll said. “We have a few fights, loud music ... we prefer they sleep it off. That’s why we did not include them in the (Pineview and Causey) ordinance.”
For decades, Pineview has been a magnet for day crowds because of its proximity to the region’s population center. But otherwise, probably the best beach still a quick drive from the Ogden area is at Willard Bay State Park.
Visitation is up over the past several weeks, but most of it is probably due to this year’s excellent water levels, said Chase Pili, one of the Willard park’s rangers and the assistant park manager.
Alcohol is permitted on the beach, except for anything in glass containers, Pili said.
As the population increases and park visitation climbs, the Willard rangers emphasize keeping problems under control by patrolling the beaches and campgrounds and educating people about the rules, Pili said.
“I think as places are popular or get popular, it’s just the nature of trash and everything else to increase,” Pili said.
Willard Bay’s four full-time rangers team with the Willard Police Department on enforcement at the park, he said.
“We are a small agency and we help them out,” Willard Police Chief Jean Loveland said of the rangers. “We’re short-staffed, and they’re short-staffed.”
Loveland said Willard beach-goers generally “have been pretty responsible.” Like Pili, she said while visitation is up, it’s largely due to the water conditions.
After several years of drought, Willard visitation boomed in 2016 to 297,837, according to state Parks and Recreation Division data. At the depth of the recent drought period, 144,007 visitors were counted in 2013 and it was risky to launch boats from the marinas because of exposed rocks in the shallows.
Since the alcohol ban was voted in, sheriff’s deputies patrolling the reservoirs have been trying to educate people about the new rules, Weber County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Nate Hutchinson said.
“We are not looking to ambush anyone,” he said. Citations won’t be issued until the ban’s start on June 14.
Toll said deputies on ATVs will be a new feature of the enforcement. Overtime shifts will be paid for by the U.S. Forest Service, which contracts with the county to police the reservoirs.
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