Project designed to help with outdoor recreation plans

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FARMINGTON — San Juan County residents who enjoy outdoor recreation are being asked to help create an inventory of local trails.

The inventory is part of an effort to increase opportunities for an outdoor recreation-based economy in the county.

Representatives of the Outdoor Recreation Industry Initiative — a local collaborative effort of government leaders, community members, the Bureau of Land Management, businesses and nonprofit organizations — met with trail users Thursday to discuss the trail inventory project.

Farmington Mayor Nate Duckett said trail users in Moab, Utah, helped build the outdoor recreation industry that now supports the city. He highlighted a Grand County, Utah, committee called Trail Mix that develops and maintains trails in Moab and the surrounding areas.

“Just a few hours north of here, you have a city and a county that’s doing something amazing,” Duckett said.

The outdoor recreation industry has a lot of potential for San Juan County, according to Farmington Parks Recreation and Cultural Affairs director Cory Styron. He said 60 percent of the people who live in the United States take part in some type of outdoor activity. Styron said the top 10 most popular outdoor recreation activities can be accessed within 90 minutes of Farmington. Those including hiking, mountain biking, off-highway vehicles, hunting and fishing.

Local entities are working to inventory the trails in San Juan County to create maps, pamphlets and other products that will allow visitors to find outdoor recreation opportunities.

“We’re not talking about where you want brand-new trails,” Styron said.

Sherice Snell, the San Juan County Global Information Systems manager, said volunteers can contact her at 505-34-4264 or ssnell@sjcounty.net to get an account and training for the free collector app that is being used to inventory the trails.

“We need what’s existing on the ground right now,” she said.

The verified trails will be placed on a map on a county website.

“We need data,” Snell said. “You can’t do anything like this without data.”

Some of the people who attended the meeting expressed concerns about a lack of awareness among some trail users about the need to stay on trails, as well as illegal dumping and shooting. They also expressed concerns about lack of signage on trails.

Styron said the first step in the process is creating the inventory of trails.

“The only way to eat an elephant, and by God this is a big elephant, is one bite at a time,” he said.

Stan Allison, the outdoor recreation planner for the Bureau of Land Management's Farmington field office, said the inventory will also help the BLM with resource management plans for trails.

"This will be great to know what's actually out there," he said.

Hannah Grover covers government for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 or via email at hgrover@daily-times.com.

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