I got in just under (I actually think it was over) the wire last night putting up an issue of the newsletter. I’m going ahead and posting a version of this issue now and will follow up later with more as I continue writing.

April Action Car Show 2021 postponed to 2022

Dave Bierschied, who oversees the Moab Rotary Club’s April Action Car Show, said today that the 2021 show was postponed to April 23, 2022. Bierschied said that concerns over the spread of COVID-19 and public health restrictions in place to prevent its spread locally led the club to suspend the event for the year.

Easter Jeep Safari is not canceled, but it might not happen anyway.

A rumor started on Facebook and Instagram Tuesday, Feb. 2 that Grand County canceled Easter Jeep Safari. The event is not canceled, according to its organizers, who are trying to work with Grand County to see about making the event amid public health orders that could limit gathering sizes depending on prevalence of COVID-19 come late March.

Red Rock 4-Wheelers, the group that organizes Jeep Safari, voted Monday evening to cancel all Jeep Safari events, including the annual vendor expo, according to event organizers. However, organizers said on Tuesday that the cancelation was not a done deal.

According to organizers and a county official, the group was in a “holding pattern” Tuesday with respect to the event, as discussions with the county are ongoing. That county official, Angie Book, is the director of the Old Spanish Trail Arena, which RR4W was scheduled to use as a primary venue for events during Jeep Safari.

RRW4 used the same “holding pattern” term on their Facebook page on Tuesday, as did Rex Holman, the business manager for RR4W, in a conversation with The T-I.

Holman said the club took a vote deciding to cancel the event, an action he said came largely out of frustration with the county’s new permitting process, which he said is invasive and onerous for organizers.

The county did indeed implement new event permitting rules on Jan. 5, including a revamp of the special event application1, made in the interest of bringing the county’s rules on permitting into alignment with how it actually carries out the process, according to Grand County Attorney Christina Sloan.

Prior to the change of ordinance, RR4W had filed an application for a special event permit with the county in December, according to Elaine Gizler, the director of the Moab Area Travel Council. Once the county updated the special event rules, Gizler said that officials requested a new application from RR4W and that, as of Tuesday, Feb. 2, the group had not yet provided one.

Separately, RR4W said in a Facebook comment on its previous statement that the Grand County Health Department “denied the permit” to allow the event to happen. However, according to Brady Bradford, the director of the Southeast Utah Health Department (there is no Grand County Health Department), the health department did not deny any permit related to the event. He postulated that the comment might have been in reference to the county’s current health order.

That order limits the size of gatherings in Grand County through March 2, though it could be extended before it expires. In the high risk transmission category (where Grand currently sits), the order means no indoor events, and outdoor events are limited to 250 people. At the moderate risk level, indoor events can have 500 people and outdoor events can have 1,000.

RR4W representatives are meeting Wednesday morning with Grand County Commission Administrator Chris Baird and other county officials to discuss the state of affairs with Easter Jeep Safari. Doug McElhaney, president of Red Rock 4-Wheelers, said the group is “working with the county” on the matter, and he said he expected to know more “in a few days.”

Rally on the Rocks will happen… across the county.

After weeks of back and forth between Grand County and the organizers of Rally on the Rocks, a large annual event for enthusiasts of off-highway vehicles, registration for the event opened as scheduled on Monday, Feb. 1, with the caveat that there would be no organized trail runs in Grand County.

Instead, Rally organizers said on the event website that the event will take place exclusively over the county line, in San Juan County. The decision came at the recommendation of attorneys representing the group, which said last week in a filing with the county that it was considering bringing a lawsuit against the county over a recent decision to suspend OHV event permits and new business licenses for OHV-related businesses.

Grand County officials lamented that the event would be held — Grand County Commission Chair Mary McGann said the development was “a downer” — but were glad to know that Rally would not be running trails in Grand County.

During a conversation last week between Rally’s legal counsel, Krystaly Koch with the Sandy-based lawfirm Freeman Lowell, and Grand County’s legal counsel, Grand County Attorney Christina Sloan, the two came to an understanding that Rally would not run or guide any trails in the county.

“While I am disappointed that Rally is still planning to stage their vendor show just over the county line, I am confident that Ms. Koch understood how serious the consequences will be for Rally’s future in Grand County if Rally organizers or participants break local laws or generally cause a ruckus this year,” Sloan said.

Rally had originally sought to lease the old airport in northern San Juan County for the vendor event, but after lobbying from McGann, San Juan County Commissioners Kenneth Maryboy and Willie Grayeyes, who govern the county via a two-person Democratic coalition, voted to deny the lease request from Rally.

However, Rally will hold the vendor show in San Juan County anyway, as the county does not have the same special event permitting system that allowed Grand County to keep the event out. Grayeyes and Maryboy did not respond to a request for comment. Republican San Juan County Commissioner Bruce Adams said only in reply to a request for comment, “Sounds good to me.”

Rally is scheduled to run from May 12 to May 15. Organizers said on the event’s website: “To reiterate, Rally is not organizing any trail rides in Grand County as part of the event this year.”

Organizers went on to say in the statement on the website: “Keep in mind that all trails in and around the Moab area are open for public use.”

Utahraptor State Park bill filed

After a bill failed last year to establish Utahraptor State Park in the existing areas of Dalton Wells, north of Moab, the sponsor has returned with a new bill that would establish the state park but not allow it to open until funding is allocated for it.

Utah Rep. Steve Eliason, who sponsored last year’s failed legislation, saw his bill show up on the State Legislature’s tracking system on Wednesday, Jan. 27. It had not yet received a vote in the Utah House of Representatives as of Tuesday evening, Feb. 2.

Utah’s Department of Natural Resources said in a note submitted about the bill that establishing a state park in the Dalton Wells area would “contribute to the local economy by bringing and hosting more visitors in the area.” The note also said that establishing the park would also create local jobs and address land use issues and health and safety concerns.

Eliason’s House Bill 257 would require that the state park not open to the public “until the division has received sufficient funding from the State Building Board or from the General Fund to provide for capital improvements and any necessary land acquisitions.”

In other words, the park wouldn’t open until the park infrastructure is funded.

Estimates from the 2020 effort to establish the park indicated that $10 million in funding would be required to establish and protect the area. The note from the Department of Natural Resources on the 2021 bill shows that $11 million may be required over the first two years, if the bill passes. The 2020 bill failed over concerns about funding the park.

The Grand County Commission voted unanimously at a meeting Jan. 19 to send a letter in support of establishing the state park, which would conserve an area that county officials said has been difficult to protect with existing resources and is frequently subject to vandalism and other impacts.