ATV Adventures: New maps track the saga of the Prospector trails

Thursday , July 06, 2017 - 5:00 AM

LYNN R. BLAMIRES, ATV Adventures columnist

The saga continues as the Prospector OHV Backway Complex evolves. New maps are now available showing the 847 miles of trail promised 15 years ago when the process started. A connection with the town of Eureka is a significant addition to the new map.

I talked with David Brown, the Tooele County Trails Coordinator, who explained some of the issues he worked through to get this trail on the map.

“Working with the two federal agencies who manage land the complex covers has been a challenge,” Brown said. “The Forest Service and the BLM manage lands differently.”

“In addition to that, I have had to work with NEPA and archaeological studies that seem to have no time limits,” Brown added.

Although those challenges are behind him, he now faces problems the Division of Wildlife Resources (DWR) is presenting as they’re trying to introduce sage grouse into the area.

“They have released the third covey of 40 birds into the area the complex covers to try and increase sage grouse numbers along with addressing habitat and water resources,” he said. “I think it will be necessary to address the predator problem before they will be successful.”

Brown is watching to see if any other problems develop from this project.

A study of the new map will reveal the addition of trails in the area of Eureka. I talked to Mayor Nick Castleton who is excited about welcoming ATVs.

“The town council has just passed an ordinance that opens all city streets to ATV travel with a speed limit of 20 mph,” he said. “I have watched trucks pulling ATVs passing through Eureka on the way to the sand dunes for years. I have always wanted to give riders a reason to stop here and enjoy some of our trails.”

Commenting further, he said, “We are working on a Eureka Trails map that will invite riders to see historic sites like the Humbug Mine, the foundation of the old school Jesse Knight built in Knightsville and some of the old cemeteries in the area.”

The mayor asked me to share his email address as he welcomes questions and comments. He can be reached at mayorcastleton@yahoo.com. As a personal note, there’s a good place to get lunch in Eureka that will enhance your riding experience.

Vernon is situated in the middle of the system. With a population of just over 250, the only retail business in town is the Silver Sage convenience store and filling station. You can get anything you need there from diapers to donuts.

This little bright spot in Utah’s high western desert has noticed a significant increase in business from ATV traffic. I have eaten at the cafe, and it’s worth going back to again.

As I have stated before, the Prospector Complex is a work in progress. This map completes the outline of the system, which includes 847 miles of ridable trails. When you ride this system, you will notice many trails that are not on the map. That is the next step in the development of the complex.

The map shows County B roads — those that are usually 68 feet wide and maintained by the county. The County D trails are owned by the county but not maintained. Twenty-one counties in Utah are involved in litigation over rights to these trails.

When that’s settled, new maps will show an intricate lattice of trails adding hundreds of miles to the Prospector Complex. It will be one of the most significant trail systems in the country.

At this time, those trails are there for exploration, but they can’t be marked until the case in the courts is settled. Although these trails are best ridden in the spring and fall, the winters are mild and this system is open to ride year round.

New maps are available. If you have difficulty finding one, let me know. I will get them to an ATV dealer near you. When you go, take plenty of water, keep the rubber side down and watch this complex as it develops.

Contact ATV Adventures columnist Lynn Blamires at quadmanone@gmail.com.

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