WMA Imposes Boondocking Ban in Utah
We’ve seen a few boondocking bans this year, and the latest in free camping closures comes from Utah at the Middle Fork WMA.
Just like most boondocking bans that we’ve seen, the reasons for these bans follow a similar trend of outright disrespect for the land and management agencies.
Let’s dive in to what prompted this recent boondocking ban.
What and Where Is the Middle Fork WMA?
Middle Fork WMA is a wildlife management area located in Weber County in northern Utah.
This free campground is located just east of Ogden near the Pineview reservoir.
The Middle Fork WMA campground has decent reviews online, but they all follow a common theme… and that’s exactly why boondocking in this area has now been banned.
Overnight Camping Banned at Middle Fork WMA… And Then Some
Officials from the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources are banning overnight camping at the Middle Fork Campground and wildlife management area through September, 2021.
The area is currently closed to camping for the winter season. However, it was supposed to open back up to camping on April 10th.
But, citing an “unruly 2020”, officials have decided against allowing campers to stay overnight in the area.
Not only is the Middle Fork dispersed camping area closed, the parking area and anywhere within a third of a mile of the parking area is closed for overnight camping.
Reasons For Boondocking Ban at the Middle Fork WMA
According to officials from the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, Weber County sheriff’s deputies were called out to the WMA 75 times in 2020.
Reasons included drugs, domestic violence, vandalism, and more.
Campground reviews on websites like Campendium state that while the campground was nice, it was full of permanent residents, squatters, and abandoned campers.
Along with the squatters and abandoned vehicles were tons of trash, degrading the natural environment.
One camper said:
“There are a lot of homeless in this area. overall, this doesn’t bother us, but the USFS came by to warn us of squatters… So law enforcement was there, etc.”
Later, in the same review, they say:
“Very creepy experience with someone desperately screaming “Help” loudly nearby. We called the cops and we scouted on foot; no one found anything. It was eerie… There was a statewide fire ban and people were still having fires. This is just irresponsible and somewhat angering, as bold signs at the entrance made this very clear.”
This review is one of many made about the state of the campground.
The campground seems to be a great place for free camping. But, unruly characters and trash damaging the environment are ultimately what caused the ban.
According to a conservation officer with the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, people were burning illegally, cutting down fences and using them as firewood, and cutting down live trees that are vegetation for the animals the area is designated for.
Alternative Camping Areas Near Middle Fork WMA
If you’re camping in the Ogden Valley area, you still have other options for free camping.
The Middle Fork Campground and anywhere within 1/3 mile of it’s parking lot are closed. But you can still boondock in other places within the WMA.
Anderson Cove Campground is a paid campground located just nearby on the Pineview Reservoir. This campground has many loops, water views, and vault toilets.
Other options for camping near Middle Fork WMA include RV parks and campgrounds in the Ogden area and along the banks of the Great Salt Lake.
Boondocking Bans Are On The Rise
Boondocking bans in popular areas are becoming more and more common. We see bans on boondocking sites every year. But the frequency seems to be increasing with the increase of people on the roads.
And, in places like the Middle Fork WMA or the recent closures in Nevada, rising local housing prices in nearby cities drive people out of their homes.
Some of the homeless individuals seek shelter however they can on public lands. Since they’re homeless, they may not have the resources necessary to properly manage their campsites.
It’s not always the fault of irresponsible RVers and travelers. But we should all do our part to leave places we visit better than we found them.
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