Trash And Debauchery On Popular Stretch Of The Weber: Activist Group Sees Improvements
The Weber River has a six-mile stretch that gets anywhere from 3000 to 5000 visitors a week during the summer months.
Local efforts are being made to manage the heavy use on the Hennefer to Taggert (known as the Hen-Tag) section and help change the mindset of the many thousands who want to enjoy the recreation there.
Dylan Taggart and a rafting guide named Michael Thuggs started the Friends of the Hen-Tag to address the problems of garbage, rowdiness and drinking that is prevalent on this stretch of the Weber River. He says jurisdiction is confusing because it involves private property owners, the DWR, commercial interests and two counties.
“The biggest stakeholder is Morgan County just because of where the county line is and where the run ends. Summit County, of course, is also involved and the DWR so the state of Utah where the popular put in for the boaters is, is at exit 112 on I-84. I would say the biggest stakeholder is the public and I think the public gets left out of a lot of the conversation because the other property holding stakeholders get more of the attention.”
Taggart says independent tube riders don’t really understand how serious a river it is with class two and three whitewater and he says if somebody gets flipped, they’ll lose everything that’s not tied down. Some people come with cheap tubes that don’t hold up and they get left behind to litter the waterway.
“The rafting outfitters are trying to provide an experience that people will remember and sometime in the future, come back. So, the trash and the lewdness and the drunkenness, it needs to be brought under control.”
The Morgan County Council has dedicated funds to road improvements and Dylan Taggart says for the first time there are dumpsters and port-o-potties in the Taggart area. He says some outfitters want to see the area become permitted access but Taggart thinks there should be personal responsibility taken by the public rather than government regulations put in place.
“I think it’s something that awareness can help with. If we can teach those people that a tube that costs five dollars more might last five years longer. If we can teach them things like that the idea that if they clip things to their tubes. It might make a bigger difference than going heavy handed.”
Just off exit 112 on I-84, the DWR has parking, fencing, port-o-potties and trash cans.
“What’s going on at the DWR put in has been pretty smooth for a while. There’s still a little bit of trash. I would say people start drinking way too early, but I don’t know how that’s going to be controlled. But for the most part, the DWR put in is kind of the model of the way things should be.”
Taggart says the DWR enforces the life-jacket regulation and some drinking and drug enforcement as well.
Taggart thinks peer pressure, self-policing and personal motivation will make for lasting positive changes. He says now he sees people gathering trash and tidying up as they recreate because there are facilities available. The Friends of the Hen-Tag have a face book page and Taggert invites people to come on board to be part of the effort to make the recreation area a better place.