Group hopes trail signs, bus ban will help preserve landscape in Mill Creek Canyon

The power dam area of Mill Creek Canyon is getting some upgrades that a Bureau of Land Management representative and others believe will help preserve and maintain the landscape.

Members of the Mill Creek Partnership joined with several local agencies and other groups Tuesday, Oct. 30, to begin placing signage and doing other enhancement projects in the area.

Target areas for improvements include the unpaved section of Powerhouse Lane, the canyon parking area, the trails to the Left-Hand Canyon waterfall and multiple rehabilitation sites, said Sara Melnicoff of the partnership.

“No Parking signs were placed on the creek side of the road, and a ban on vehicles over 22 feet and vehicles with trailers will take effect when signs are installed [in November],” she said.

The partnership wants to clear the trail to the popular Left-Hand waterfall and add signage. Having trail signs will prevent multiple trails from being created in the area because people aren’t sure where to go, Melnicoff said.

“We hope the community will appreciate the need for minimal signing,” she said in a news release.

Miles Gurtler, a Bureau of Land Management park ranger, said the area worked this week was between the power dam and the first waterfall. Four trail signs were installed.

“All of this is to protect the canyon,” he said. “It’s not the locals [doing damage]. The word is out on the waterfalls. It’s definitely out in the bigger world.”

Work has been concentrated on BLM land, which accounts for most of the area. There also is some land in Mill Creek that is owned by Grand County, Gurtler said.

The area has grown increasingly popular, he noted, with information about Mill Creek and the waterfalls available on the Internet. Gurtler said signs in the area have been vandalized in the past.

Buses and large vehicles, especially those with trailers, are being banned from the parking lot because they have been entering the overcrowded parking area and could not turn around. As a result, the vehicles had to be backed down the road and often met other vehicles coming up the road, creating a hazardous situation, he said.

In addition to help from the BLM, the partnership is joining forces with the Grand County Sheriff’s Office, city of Moab, Moab Solutions, the Grand Water and Sewer Service Agency and Grand County Search and Rescue to improve conditions.

Monthly work parties are held for a variety of projects, including removing invasive plants, broken glass and other debris.

“It’s a great place to spend time,” Melnicoff said, adding that volunteers logged 275 hours between Oct. 1, 2011 and Sept. 30.

“We caged cottonwood trees, pulled weeds, removed thousands of bits of broken glass, cleaned up litter, and worked to keep trails clear,” she said.

The partnership formed in the late 1990s to address several issues endangering the health of the canyon, according to the news release. More information about the effort is available online at www.millcreekpartnership.net.

ByBy Steve Kadel

staff writer