Saturday, November 14, 2009

The BLM has proposed 63 sites in Nine Mile Canyon for the National Register of Historic Places

The Bureau of Land Management has proposed 63 sites in Utah's Nine Mile Canyon for the National Register of Historic Places. Nine Mile Canyon, located on the Tavaputs Plateau in Northeastern Utah is home to as many as 10,000 different rock art drawings. Nicknamed "the longest art gallery in the world," Nine Mile Canyon contains one of the densest concentrations of Fremont culture rock art anywhere in Utah.

Since 2002, deposits of natural gas are being developed on the Tavaputs Plateau. Truck traffic going to and from these natural gas wells is disturbing enough dust in Nine Mile Canyon that preservationists and rock art lovers are concerned the irreplaceable archaeological sites could be damaged. With more development pending, the BLM and conservation groups like the Nine Mile Coalition, and the National Trust for Historic Preservation are trying to call attention to the situation.

The rock art, or petroglyphs (drawings pecked or carved into the stone) found in Nine Mile Canyon have been chiseled out of sandstone covered in dark "desert varnish." The figures, formed in the freshly exposed rock, stand out in contrast to the darker, older background rock of the panels. The perpetual dust kicked up by large truck traffic in the canyon threatens to dull the contrast, and visual power of these rock art panels.

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While the National Register of Historic Places wouldn't provide protection for the archaeological sites in Nine Mile Canyon, it would recognize their importance.

For more information about the Fremont Culture and their rock art.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Thanksgiving Feast - Dutch Oven Style

Did you know the Dutch Oven is the official cooking pot of the state of Utah? That's right, the Dutch Oven

was designated Utah's official cooking pot in 1997 for its historic use by early Utah settlers.

The Dutch Oven, a popular outdoor cooking tool for both Utah pioneers and modern-day outdoor enthusiasts, can be used to prepare a wide variety of delicious cuisine in settings usually reserved for roasting hot dogs and S'mores.

Dutch Ovens are cast-iron pots with snug fitting lids that are specifically designed for cooking directly in the coals of an open fire. The oven’s lid is equipped with a tall iron lip, allowing coals to be added to the top of the pot, baking the contents of the oven evenly, much like an modern household oven. Dutch Ovens work so well in fact, that many people who've used them in the outdoors have incorporated them into their regular cooking repertoire.

If you’re looking for a fun new dish to add to your Thanksgiving feast this year, why not consider baking one of your courses in a Dutch Oven? You might just end up with a new classic. And you’ll know exactly what to prepare on your next camping trip.

Here’s a couple recipe ideas to stoke your creative cooking fire!

Thanksgiving Roasted Herb Turkey

Cooking a full turkey is always a labor intensive process. Why not make it fun by doing it in a Dutch Oven?
Here's how:

  • 1 turkey
  • 1 onion
  • 2-3 cloves garlic chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic pressed
  • 1 cup water

Basting Sauce

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 tsp dried mint leaves
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp dried sage
  • 1/2 tsp dried marjoram
  • 1/2 tsp sweet basil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper

Thaw turkey if frozen. Before preparing the turkey, light a pile of at least 50 charcoal briquettes for the Dutch Oven.

Place thawed turkey in a 15 inch Dutch Oven. Slice onion into large pieces and place them in the turkey cavity with the chopped garlic cloves. Rub the remaining pressed garlic over the outside of the turkey. Pour water in the bottom of the Dutch Oven. Put the lid on the pot and add 15-20 briquettes to the bottom of the pot and 20-25 on top.

Melt butter in a separate pan and add the herbs to create a basting sauce. Frequently baste the turkey with the herb sauce as it cooks.

Add fresh coals about once an hour. Cook the turkey until the center of the turkey's temperature reaches 170 degrees.

Marshmallow Sweet Potato Casserole

What could be a better marriage between outdoor cooking and Thanksgiving than borrowing marshmallows from the campfire classic Smores, and adding them to the traditional Thanksgiving sweet potato dish?

  • About 8 sweet potatoes or yams
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 pound marshmallows

Boil the sweet potatoes in water until they are tender. This can be done in the Dutch Oven first or in a regular stove-top pot, whichever is easier given your cooking conditions. Remove the skins and mash the sweet potatoes. Add butter, milk, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and paprika. Butter the sides and bottom of the Dutch Oven and fill it with the mashed sweet potatoes. Place the marshmallows on top of the sweet potatoes. Bake the casserole by placing 10-15 coals below the Dutch oven and 5-10 coals on top. Let the dish bake until the marshmallows become golden-brown.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Bighorn Sheep Festival in Moab - November 20-21, 2009

Head-butting bighorn rams fighting it out for the rights to mate with the top female sheep in the herd. How often do you get a chance to see exciting wildlife behavior like this in a wilderness setting?

Only once a year at best. Most of the year rams (male) and ewes (females) hardly interact at all, living their lives in separate family groups. But at the Bighorn Sheep Festival in Moab in late November, you'll have an opportunity to see some of the most exciting activity of the year. The breeding season, or "rut," is in full swing and male bighorns are clashing horns in their annual competition to attract the attention of the lovely ladies.

The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources is hosting its annual Bighorn Sheep Festival in Moab this November 20th and November 21st. DWR biologists will keep a watchful eye on the whereabouts of Moab's bighorn sheep leading up to the event, and guide those attending to the most likely spots for a sighting. Biologists will lead the group to likely spots near paved roads in Moab Canyon and along the Colorado River Corridor. Event attendees should bring spotting scopes or binoculars if they can, and the biologists will provide them for those who can't. You're welcome to follow along in your own vehicle or join the group in vehicles provided by the DWR guides.

The guides will meet the public on Saturday morning (Nov 21) at 8am at the Moab information center. Sheep watchers should expect the event to last until early afternoon. While DWR Outreach Manager Brent Stettler can't guarantee a close-up encounter, but he adds, "We almost always see sheep."

For more info about the event visit the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources website. Or contact Brent Stettler personally at by phone at 435/613-3707, or by email at

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Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Cut your own Christmas Tree this year in Utah's National Forest

"The perfect Christmas tree? All Christmas trees are perfect!" - Charles N. Barnard

Maybe so, but that doesn't mean that any old tree will do. For many families going out and picking the perfect Christmas tree is a long standing tradition. And for some, that tradition isn't complete without hiking into the woods, selecting the perfect tree, and cutting it themselves.

In Utah, permits to cut Christmas trees on national forest land are starting to go on sale. District offices in Fishlake and Dixie National Forests are now selling permits, costing about $10. Between now and the end November, permits will go on sale in forests across the state.

All species of trees except Ponderosa pine trees can be cut with a permit. Trees up to eight feet tall may be selected and they should be cut near the ground - about eight inches above the ground. Rules vary in each Ranger District. Here's a link to the specific rules and regulations for cutting trees on the official US Forest Service website. Try to select your tree from a densely forest area, where thining the stand will be a benefit the forest.