DWR Closes Utah’s East Fork Little Bear WMA to Camping

Inconsiderate recreators ruined overnight camping in this ideal fishing spot for the rest of us.

by posted on May 2, 2022
East Fork Little Bear WMA
Photos courtesy of Utah's Department of Wildlife Resources.

Well folks, this is why we can’t have nice things. We at NRA Women have published a few articles explaining how to execute Leave No Trace (LNT) outdoor ethics and why they’re important. Utah’s Department of Wildlife Resources (DWR) closing camping in a once-pristine Wildlife Management Area (WMA) is an example of why everyone has to follow the Leave No Trace Seven Principles for LNT to work.

The East Fork Little Bear used to run through the now Wildlife Management Area in a straight line. However, after DWR purchased the one-mile stretch in the late 1980s using dollars provided by hunters and anglers, DWR biologists altered the flow of the river. The project included placing bends and meanders that changed the flow of the water, creating additional pools and riffles for fish. This part of the river is now an especially good place to fish for brown trout in the fall. Anglers also sometimes catch Cutthroats.

The DWR purchased the East Fork Little Bear land to ensure the river would be open to public fishing forever. While it was never designed as a campsite, the DWR allowed camping on the property, believing that visitors would respect the area and take care of it. Most campers aren’t to blame. However, enough irresponsible recreators have marred the landscape so significantly that the DWR was forced to take action.

“The misuse of the area by campers has included leaving trash and human excrement scattered across the WMA,” DWR Northern Region Habitat Manager Daniel Olson said. “Wooden fences on the WMA have been broken apart, chopped up and used as firewood. Campers have also left campfires unattended and have built them even when campfire closures were in effect on the WMA. Roads and habitat have also been damaged.”

Thanks to this long list of crimes, effective immediately, overnight camping is no longer allowed on the East Fork Little Bear River Wildlife Management Area. However, the WMA is still open for day use and offers great fishing access. “We’re going to reclaim and improve the area and make it a great place to fish again,” said Olson. “We encourage anglers to come to the East Fork Little Bear WMA and enjoy a day of fishing. We’ve worked hard to improve the river and make it a great place for fish and anglers.”

When recreating outdoors, remember that you are a guest and should treat the wilderness with respect. If you don’t, it might not be there when you want to go back. Mother Nature is not your garbage can or prerogative.

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