PARADISE, Utah (ABC4) – The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (DWR) has closed East Fork Little Bear Wildlife Management Area (WMA) to camping, according to a press release from Friday.

The DWR originally acquired the one-mile stretch of the East Fork Little Bear River from a private landowner in the 1980s.

The purpose was to open the stretch of the river to the public, and to ensure it would stay open to fishing forever.

The East Fork Little Bear WMA is located just west of Porcupine Reservoir along East Canyon Rd. in Paradise. The land in Cache County was not originally acquired as a public camping spot, however, the DWR decided to allow camping on the property, “hoping campers would respect the area and take good care of it.”

The DWR states that most have, but over the years, “enough campers have marred the wildlife management area,” causing the DWR to make the decision to close it to camping.

Overnight camping is no longer allowed on the East Fork Little Bear WMA, “effective immediately.”

However, the WMA is still open for day use and fishing access.

“The misuse of the area by campers has included leaving trash and human excrement scattered across the WMA,” DWR Northern Region Habitat Manager Daniel Olson said. “Wooden fences on the WMA have been broken apart, chopped up and used as firewood. Campers have also left campfires unattended and have built them even when campfire closures were in effect on the WMA. Roads and habitat have also been damaged. We’re going to reclaim and improve the area and make it a great place to fish again.”

After acquiring the area, DWR biologists actually altered the flow of the river, placing bends and meanders that changed the flow of the water, “creating additional pools and riffles for fish.”

The DWR states that it is an especially good place to fish for brown trout in the fall, and that cutthroats are another species anglers sometimes catch.

“We encourage anglers to come to the East Fork Little Bear WMA and enjoy a day of fishing,” Olson said. “We’ve worked hard to improve the river and make it a great place for fish and anglers.”

The East Fork Little Bear WMA is one of 193 wildlife management areas in Utah.

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