A picnic area is a place for apple pies, not cow pies.
That's basically the philosophy underlying the Recreation/Transportation Special Service District's decision not to allow cattle grazing on district property south of Scofield.
The district owns acreage straddling about 1.8 miles of Mud Creek. Last summer, it joined forces with the Utah Department of Environmental Quality and Division of Wildlife resources in a project to control erosion and improve the habitat in and around the creek.
Further proposals for the property include picnic tables, a pavilion and a walk bridge across the creek.
So when Leroy Mead of the DWR came before the district board Monday to explore the possibility of allowing a neighboring rancher to graze cows on the grassland, the idea did not go far. Mead explained that the DWR wanted to replicate the habitat improvement and pollution control project downstream from the district's property.
Erosion and runoff from cattle byproducts cause mud and nutrients - principally phosphorus - to enter the stream and eventually the reservoir. This leads to a situation of rapid algal growth and subsequent death, a process called eutrophication that depletes oxygen in the water and can cause fish kills.
The problem is that the stream project would involve fencing off the land around the stream banks, and that this is private property used for cattle grazing. Mead told the board that the property owner would go along with the fencing if it would be possible to make up for the lost grazing land by allowing cattle on the district's property.
Several board members noted that this proposal would conflict with the long-range plans for recreational opportunities of hiking, picnicking and fishing.
County commissioner and board member Mike Milovich suggested that it might be possible for the county to work out an alternative arrangement with the landowner to allow grazing on county-owned land in the area.
Neil Breinholt moved that the board reply to the DWR and landowner that the district is "not interested in this particular deal, but we're open to other suggestions." The motion carried.