Dear Editor:

Carol Mayer’s defense of her daughter Kiley Miller’s impassioned plea for changes she wants in the Powerdam area of Mill Creek Canyon (“Mill Creek Deserves Better,” Moab Sun News, June 14-20) is a testament to family loyalty, but paints an incomplete portrait of the situation.

Suggesting that people enter the canyon on the Potato Salad Hill (PSH) side, at this point in time, is highly irresponsible. There is no infrastructure there, huge potential for user conflicts, (PSH is a motorized hill-climb area) and there is no clear way to get onto the trail from PSH. Add to that a rocky one-lane road down to the lower section, and a long, dusty, bumpy road from Sand Flats to the parking area, and the potential for concern for public safety is real.

If it were to be determined that this is to be the one and only vehicle entrance to the canyon, a lot of planning, huge financial resources and much work would have to go into ensuring protection of the natural areas.

Almost a quarter of a million dollars has been spent by a variety of entities over the last three years on watershed improvements, much in that area. To have that work undone by sending people to an unimproved and very tricky entrance is a mistake and an affront to those who have done the hard work.

Incorporating Mill Creek into Sand Flats is not a viable option at this time.

Multiple complex issues arise from that suggestion, something that is well known to people involved in looking for solutions to overcrowding at the Powerdam area.

Speaking of that, I decided to hire someone to check the parking lot for me every day, from between 3:30 and 5 p.m. This person counts cars in the lot, and illegally parked cars, and then submits photos to me. We are on day six now, and in that time, there was only one day when the lot was full. On that day, two cars were parked illegally along the road near the parking lot. Most of the other days, the lot was not even full.

In my experience, there are a few major weekends that bring crazy numbers of people to the canyon, just as they do to many places in town. By addressing these weekends and taking measures ahead of those times, we can make a bad situation livable while investigating good, healthy long-term solutions.

The Grand County Sheriff’s Office is going to install more “No Parking” signs, and add a “Vehicles will be towed at owner’s expense” notation to those signs. This will greatly reduce the number of people parking illegally, but only addresses part of the problem.

How can we, as a community, maintain the beauty of our natural lands when they are being “loved to death”? I suggest that people get involved in doing preventative maintenance and restoration of damaged areas. That can make all the difference between seeing our precious lands turn into “dead” zones, and their staying healthy. To that end, I run a little rag-tag group known as “Fix Mix,” in which small groups go out and do protective and restoration work on public lands in the region. It can make quite a difference. Join us!

My heart goes out to the residents affected by the traffic going down the road past their homes. I truly get it. But they did choose to build on a road leading to a popular destination, and many are longtime locals who were aware of this issue.

I think there are ways to make several small changes that can add up to creating a more positive experience for everybody. And that is a win-win.

Sara Melnicoff