Reopening of Bunker Creek Trail a sign of recovery from Brian Head Fire

The Brian Head Fire consumed more than 70,000 acres in Southern Utah, June 23, 2017 | Photo courtesy of Color Country Interagency Fire Center, St. George News / Cedar City News

ST. GEORGE — An official ribbon-cutting ceremony and public ride on the newly reopened Bunker Creek mountain bike trail in Dixie National Forest is scheduled for July 13, at 2 p.m., at the Sydney Peak Trailhead on Brian Head Peak Road off of Highway 143 one mile south of Brian Head.

The public is encouraged to attend the ribbon-cutting and ride the trail along with members of the community as a celebration of this significant step in the recovery from the 2017 Brian Head Fire, according to a press release from the town of Brian Head.

While most of the town was not directly impacted by the fire, the impact to several popular mountain bike trails located in the Dixie National Forest was severe.

Since the conclusion of the fire last summer, Forest Service employees have worked along with members of the Brian Head community as well as the Dixie Mountain Bike Trails Association to restore the damaged trails. The Forest Service saw an opportunity to not only repair but improve the trails which had eroded severely over the years rendering the trails useful to expert riders only. The aim was to improve drainage and tread, clear downed and dangerous trees, and re-route the trails where possible turning them into more sustainable family-friendly flow trails.

The Forest Service brought in American Conservation Experience to begin work in the fall of 2017 and the right fork of Bunker Creek was completed July 3.

“We wanted to get something open as soon as we could,” said Del Orme, recreational staff officer for the Dixie National Forest. “Right Fork showed the best potential to be open this summer, and it was important to show what we could do with these trails.”

The town, Dixie National Forest and the Iron County Restaurant Tax Board, along with several other partners including mountain bike association, were recently awarded matching grant funding from the Utah Office of Outdoor Recreation to complete an additional $200,000 worth of mountain bike trail improvements, including the left fork of Bunker Creek, Dark Hollow and the Scout Camp Loop.

“Brian Head relies on mountain biking as a keystone for its summer economy,” Mayor Clayton Calloway said. “Brian Head Resort has put a bunch of money into their lift-served trails this year, and they have future phases of improvements scheduled. With the trails we’re going to improve on the Dixie, it’s hard not be excited that Brian Head is returning to its glory days of mountain biking.

“The fire was a terrible thing, but it’s been great to see the community come together to take the lemons the fire handed us and make some lemonade.”

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