OGDEN, Utah (ABC4) – Middle Fork Wildlife Management Area, once a clean, safe, and flourishing campsite is no longer.
On March 29, the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources announced its decision to close overnight camping in part of the Middle Fork Wildlife Management Area.
Officials say this is effective immediately.
Their reasoning? Trash, vandalism, drug use, domestic violence, and habitat degradation have littered the campsite, creating a hostile and unsafe environment for not only campers but the wildlife within the area.
Though the Huntsville campsite will be closed, there still are other available campsites in the WMA area. Here are some dates to keep in mind when wanting to camp in the Ogden Valley, according to DWR officials.
- To protect wintering wildlife, the WMA is closed to all activities from Jan. 1 to the second Saturday in April.
- From the second Saturday in April through Sept. 9, you can still camp on parts of the WMA. Overnight camping is no longer allowed, however, in the parking lot or within a third of a mile of the parking lot is.
- Overnight camping is allowed across the entire WMA — including the parking lot and its surrounding area — from Sept. 10 to Dec. 31.
Officials say WMA was first implemented in Utah during the 1940s to protect critical habitat for deer and other wildlife.
WMA also gives back to those who invest in them: through the purchase of hunting and fishing licenses, many can hunt and fish in the state.
“The areas were not purchased to give people a place to camp, but we’ve still allowed camping on many of them through the years,” Scott Walker, regional habitat manager for the DWR, shares. “However, overnight camping issues in the parking area at the Middle Fork WMA have gotten so bad that overnight camping is no longer allowed in that area from the second Saturday in April through Sept. 9.”
According to DWR conservation officers and Weber County Sheriff’s deputies, they are very familiar with the Middle Fork WMA. In 2020 alone, “the two agencies responded to 75 calls from the parking area, which is where most of the camping occurs.”
“The sheer number of people who visit the area to camp has also damaged habitat in the area surrounding the parking lot and a small creek not far from it,” Walker adds.
Again, though camping in the Middle Fork WMA is now prohibited, there are still other camping sites available in the Ogden Valley.
According to DWR, one of the best spots is the North Fork campground just outside Liberty.
“Even though it sees lots of use, North Fork is a big campground,” Walker states. “Officials with Weber County have told us that camping spots are almost always available.”
Other camping areas in the Ogden Valley include campgrounds at Pineview Reservoir and campgrounds run by the U.S. Forest Service off State Route 39.