As part of Governor Gary Herbert’s mandate to the state Utah’s state parks are still open, but only to residents of the county the park is located in. That means Wasatch County residents cannot visit Summit County parks and Summit County residents cannot visit Wasatch County parks.
Even Summit County residents with boat slips at Jordanelle State Park, or season golf passes at Wasatch Mountain Golf Course are being turned away by state park employees. Wasatch Mountain State Park Manager Tracy See says they hate to do it, but they are sending people away.
“Unfortunately, this past weekend I turned away 13 people,” See explained. “They came from Salt Lake, Utah County, Summit County. We feel bad as a park ranger because we’re supposed to be here to help you get out and recreate, but that is the governor's mandate at this time. So unless you can show that you’re a county resident we’re turning you away at the gate.”
The state parks will stay open to county residents for now. Wasatch Mountain State park has 23 miles of non-motorized trail, See says they have been very busy with record numbers for the time of year.
“People are getting a little stir crazy being home and being boxed in,” See continued. “They need some relief, we’re just really asking them to keep the social distancing at the trailhead. Don’t gather, don’t come in groups. We’re supposed to be under 10, we prefer it’s even less than that. I've been having issues with people stealing my toilet paper and my hand sanitizer out of my restroom. Which is really frustrating for the other folks that come to use them. We’re no longer restocking sanitizer in them because I can’t keep it in them. So those are just some of the issues we’re dealing with.”
Although camping at Wasatch Mountain State Park usually doesn’t start until warmer months, See says they have 47 campsites open now, all sites are exclusively for Wasatch County residents. See asks that all trail users follow the parks rules and remain civil. She recently had a woman cough in her face after asking her to follow state and county law that her dogs be leashed in the park.
“We had a situation where they let five dogs out of a vehicle and the dogs were running loose,” See said. “We were trying to gather up the dogs, and she got frustrated with me. It was shocking to me that somebody would do that. Another trailhead user that was trying to help, was appalled by it. He was shaking he’s like ‘I can’t believe somebody would do that. I can’t believe somebody would act that way.’”
See says she’s working with the county's attorney office regarding the situation. Overall See encourages people to only come to state parks in their county, prepare to provide proof of residency and look-up rules ahead of coming to the park.
“We don’t feel good about having to turn you away. So, it's better if you don't put us in that position as well,” See explained. “I know people want to get out, but they just need to really protect themselves. I had people come from Salt Lake County just to picnic with their kids. I hate making them pack up and leave but that’s kind of where we’re at, at this time.”
See said second-home owners and others living temporarily in the county can access the park using proof of residence such as a bill.