Staffing Little Sahara with emergency workers is costing Juab County hundreds of thousands

Mar 29, 2024, 10:00 AM | Updated: 11:01 am

Sand mountain riding....

Sand mountain riding is a popular past time at the Little Sahara Recreation Area. Photo taken on March 29, 2013. (Lisa Reid/Bureau of Land Management)

(Lisa Reid/Bureau of Land Management)

JUAB COUNTY— Little Sahara Recreation Area is expected to be packed with visitors again this Easter weekend.

On some years, the thousands of acres of sand dunes can have upwards of 50,000 visitors exploring them during Easter weekend.

However, local taxpayers in Juab County are having to fork over a pretty penny to make sure there’s enough emergency workers around all those visitors in case they need help.

While the popular sand dunes are managed by the Bureau of Land Management, Juab County Commissioner Clint Painter told KSL NewsRadio they have an agreement with BLM to help patrol the area throughout the year.

Painter said for Easter weekend specifically, “We stage our full EMS on site…as well as our law enforcement and our search and rescue.”

That includes every sheriff’s deputy in the county and the working sheriff.

Painter said they don’t keep track of the costs for Easter weekend itself. For all of 2023, the county spent just shy of $400,000 to help people in Little Sahara.

BLM does contribute $75,000 a year to the county, but the total costs normally push half a million dollars.

“All the additional costs…are coming on the backs of our taxpayers,” Painter said.

Despite the huge costs, Painter said they still love and want visitors to keep coming down.

“We love them to come, we want them to be here. We just want them to be safe,” Painter said.

Painter said people should do what they can to be safe in the sand dunes. He also asked anyone going down to go easy with the alcohol and to pick up after themselves as they leave the area.

Painter said landfill costs alone rack up to between $10,000 and $15,000 for them every year.


More rain and snow on the way for Easter

Provo-based band The National Parks to perform at St. George Art Festival

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Staffing Little Sahara with emergency workers is costing Juab County hundreds of thousands