Land north of Moab near Arches National Park is rich in paleontology and history, but is unlikely to become a state park despite discussions at a recent public meeting with land-owners.

Ideas were floated at a Nov. 26 public meeting on turning more than 2,000 acres at the Dalton Wells site into a state park, monument or recreation area as a solution to protecting and managing the land. One idea was to name the area “Utahraptor State Park” for its abundance of dinosaur fossils.

Jason Curry, public information officer at the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands (FFSL), said on Jan. 14 that it’s unlikely the land will be developed into a state park and said Grand County will oversee the day-to-day access and management. FFSL is requesting $100,000 in appropriations from the upcoming Utah Legislative session that could fund the costs for building restrooms, providing security and trail maintenance and installing signs.

“It’s an area we want to protect,” Curry said. “Dalton Wells has kind of been over-loved recently.”

Laura Ault, Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands (FFSL) sovereign lands program coordinator, said during the Nov. 26 meeting that “toilet paper is rolling across the desert” with the absence of restrooms in the camping areas. Vandalism has also been a problem at Dalton Wells, officials said.

The land is owned in part by School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration (SITLA). Curry said the first step of the land exchange with FFSL is still in process and “that will ultimately bring the two owners of land at the site into one parcel.” Once the land exchange is complete, FFSL will work with Grand County on management plans for the Dalton Wells area, he said.

The Grand County Council approved a proposed letter on Jan. 15 to Sen. Hinkins, Rep. Albrecht and Rep. Watkins in support of the appropriations request by FFSL.

Planning continues with emphasis on Grand County management