Great American Outdoors Act: Enhancing Utah Public Lands
Javonne Goodman, Public Affairs Specialist
The Great American Outdoors Act (GAOA) is a historic investment in the protection and sustainment of public lands and Bureau of Indian Education-funded schools. This landmark legislation provides economic support to communities by providing jobs and investing in much-needed maintenance for critical facilities and infrastructure on public lands. Through the Great American Outdoors Act funding, more than eight projects are happening across Bureau of Land Management sites in Utah.
Anasazi Valley Trailhead and Tempi'po'op Trail
The Color Country District will complete deferred maintenance repairs to the trail and trailhead to fix drainage issues and ensure equitable access for visitors. This trail receives nearly 80,000 visitors per year with use expected to increase due to population growth in Santa Clara, Utah, and surrounding areas. The Tempi’po’op Trail’s low slope and wide path provide visitors with an accessible trail. In addition, one mile of this trail sits on a historic road with more than 30 small culverts along this trail section. The BLM tried to maintain this section of trail to the highest standards possible, but drainage issues and washouts have made the trail difficult for visitors to traverse. GAOA-funded, properly engineered grades and drainage, and an erosion-resistant permeable surface, will allow the trail to better meet accessibility standards with minimal maintenance.
Calf Creek Recreation Site Deferred Maintenance and Improvements Project
Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument issued a decision in February 2023 to authorize much-needed maintenance and site improvements at the Calf Creek Recreation site, funded, in part, through the GAOA. The maintenance and upgrades are intended to better meet public needs and accessibility issues, while protecting Monument objects and values. This phased project will likely begin in late-2023 with most work anticipated for 2024, completed in phases.
Color Country District Projects
GAOA funding will support repairs at the Fort Pearce, Fort Pearce Ridge Off-Highway Vehicle, Dinosaur Tracks, Toquerville Mine, Red Mountain, Gooseberry #1, Gooseberry #2 and Eagle Crags trailheads near St. George, Utah. Repairs will include fencing and drainage restoration and trail resurfacing. GAOA funds will also help replace 2,253 feet of fencing at the Rock Corral Recreation Area near Minersville, Utah. Fencing at the Rock Corral Recreation Area protects sensitive areas from cattle and motorized vehicles. Finally, GAOA funding will support more than 20,000 feet of fence replacement at five sites including Starr Springs, McMillian Springs and Lonesome Beaver campgrounds, Hancock Cabin and Dandelion Flat Day Use Area near Hanksville, Utah.
Poison Spider Parking Area and Trailhead Improvements
Canyon Country District crews have completed the parking area and improvements at the Poison Spider Trailhead. Improvements include regrading and resurfacing the parking area, drainage improvements and bank stabilization to minimize erosion. The parking area is now available before the busy spring recreation season.
Ponderosa Grove Campground Expansion and Maintenance Project
Visitation to the Ponderosa Grove campground managed through the Kanab Field Office has grown significantly, prompting expansion and infrastructure improvements that increased the number of campsites from nine to approximately 40, including up to 10 recreational vehicle (RV) sites, 30 car-camping sites, five walk-in campsites, and one group campsite with 10 parking stalls and a shaded structure. The campground is located adjacent to both motorized and non-motorized recreation opportunities near the Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park and the Moquith Mountain Wilderness Study Area and fills consistently to capacity during spring and fall.
Red Cliffs National Conservation Area
The 2020 fire season caused considerable damage to several sites in the Red Cliffs National Conservation Area with BLM District budgets stretched to make emergency repairs and to rebuild recreation sites. GAOA funds will address previously unfunded fire damage and the deferred maintenance backlog for seven trailheads or recreation sites. Red Cliffs National Conservation Area facilities have more than 625,000 visitors a year and are popular access points to thousands of acres of public lands. Repairing these facilities will expand recreational opportunities and improve accessibility.
South Fork Indian Canyon Pictograph Site Improvements Project
Canyon pictographs are a bit off the beaten path at this popular site. In October 2021, Kanab Field Office outdoor recreation planners and Color Country engineers led about 30 BLM staff and volunteers to improve site infrastructure replacing safety railing along the narrow and steep hiking-access trail. The project protects and preserves cultural resources, enhances public access and safety and prevents wilderness impairment within the Moquith Mountain Wilderness Study Area.
White House Road Improvement Project
White House Road provides the only vehicular access to the White House Campground and Trailhead, a popular area for recreationists to explore the Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness Area. GAOA funds will re-align the road and replace a low-water crossing with a box culvert. This work eliminates future reroutes by rebuilding the road to more stable conditions away from the Paria River’s edge and eliminates safety concerns at the low-water crossing, such as visitors becoming trapped due to flood conditions.
More project photos are available on our Flickr account.