ANTELOPE ISLAND (ABC4 Utah News) – This island in the Great Salt Lake has over 28,000 acres and a lot of wildlife but just a few roads.
“It’s like stepping back into the Old West,” Jeff Rasmussen, the Deputy Director of Utah State Parks said.
But it could soon hum with the engine noise of all terrain vehicles and off-highway vehicles.
“I wouldn’t want to just turn people loose out there to run all over the place,” birdwatcher Neldon Kunz said.
Rasmussen says that’s not what it would be like.
“It’s not really big enough for recreational riding where you just take your ATV up there and go trail riding,” Rasmussen told ABC4 Utah News. “This would be more of a guided experience so we would have people who would talk about the geology, the wildlife.”
Rasmussen compares the proposed 10-12 rider tours to the island’s current horseback tours or the snowmobile tours offered at Yellowstone National Park that increases accessibility to remote areas.
“It could get people to the west side of the island that’s right now only accessible if you hike or ride a bike or ride a horse back there,” Rasmussen said. “If you’ve never been there, it’s one of the prettiest sides of the island.”
Some people say it’s not a good idea to have ATVs buzzing around where the deer and the antelope play. The island is home to a herd of 500-700 bison, plus numerous Mule Deer, Bighorn Sheep, coyotes and foxes.
“They need to have their space,” wildlife photographer Denise Hyatt said. “You don’t know what they’re going to do. At any time they could turn. They’re wild. They’re not tame, backdoor, backyard animals. They can attack.”
The results of the feasibility study are expected in the Spring of 2018 when the Parks Division Board will vote on the proposal.