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Public Lands Day: Building a good fence to have happier neighbors

October 2nd, 2012 Posted in Arts and Life, Outdoors
Story by Danielle Manley, photos by Tavin Stucki

WELLSVILLE — Shovels hit the rocky terrain and filled the quiet mountain air with echos. A handful of community volunteers had come together for breakfast and live music before they started the hard labor of building a fence Saturday.

Volunteers teamed up to sink posts for a fence between the Murray’s property and the public land. Photo by Tavin Stucki.

Dean and Alli Murray sold 604 acres of  property seven years ago to the Logan Ranger District of the National Forest Service, which converted it from private to public land. “It borders the Wellsville Mountain Wilderness,” ranger Ron Vance said. “Eventually this can tie you in to the Wellsvilles in the Rattlesnake Trail that will take you to the top of the Wellsvilles.”The problem? The public has to access the land by first crossing the Murray’s property. The Forest Service recognized they needed to address a problem concerning the use of this access.

“All of the parking has been provided by Mrs. Murray,” Vance said. “We’re having a little bit of trouble with the attitudes with some of the users being quite rude to Mrs. Murray and leaving a mess in the trailhead.”

In addition, the Murrays have had issues making the property line known to the public.

“Now we have everyone in my mom’s driveway,” said Curtis Murray, son of Dean and Alli Murray. “One percent makes it miserable for the other 99 percent. They clean their trailer out and leave it. They need the fence to control people.”

In a combined effort to solve this problem and celebrate National Public Lands Day, local organizations and volunteers gathered to build a fence. The aim was to better define where the Murray’s private property ends and public property starts. The fence line is approximately 600 feet long.

Public Lands Day is a national holiday celebrated in a variety of different ways. In the past the Logan Ranger District has done maintenance work on trails and campgrounds.

“It’s really fitting that we are here on the Murray property on Public Lands Day,” District Ranger Jennifer Parker said. “I think this is a critical piece of property. It’s great that the Murrays decided they wanted to keep it available for public use to be able to maintain this access.”

Taylor Wilson’s band Little Bear Foot played live music before the event and during the first couple hours. Photo by Tavin Stucki.

The other reason for building the fence is to maintain the character of the non-motorized land, Bear River Watershed Chairman Dan Miller said. After completing a similar project in Providence Canyon, Miller realized people had been destroying the fence his volunteers built.“People were really upset when the Forest Service closed down the road for safety,” Miller said. “People were yanking our fence out, driving around it and going around the barriers. They built roads through the forest around the barriers. It’s a nightmare mess.”

Several volunteer groups showed up to lend their hands. The Utah Conservation Corps, the Bear River Watershed Council and the Logan Ranger District were the among the organizations committed to the project. Volunteers from the community and Utah State University also helped.

“With decreasing funds and more work than we can actually do, volunteer work such as this is really vital,” USU forestry major Jason Brown said.

NW

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