Nicole Nielson and Linda Whitham

Nicole Nielson (left), DWR habitat manager, and Linda Whitham with The Nature Conservancy, met at the Scott M. Matheson Wetland Preserve on Friday, Nov. 2, to discuss the upcoming excavation of a new project to help save endangered razorback suckers. [Photo by Ashley Bunton / Moab Sun News]

Just outside of Moab, the nearly 900 acres of the Scott and Norma Matheson Wetlands Preserve protects sensitive wildlife habitat and is home to more than 200 species of birds, amphibians, mammals and fish. For many of us, this preserve provides a retreat to nature, where one can escape Moab's busy traffic.

Unfortunately, recent abuses to this preserve - such as dumping trash, littering, vandalism, overnight parking, camping, and illegal drug use - have forced us to close the main access gate for parking vehicles until further notice.

The Matheson Preserve is co-managed by The Nature Conservancy and the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources to protect threatened and native species along the Colorado River. We have posted rules at the preserve entrances to keep visitors safe and to ensure human recreation does not degrade or disturb wildlife and the important habitat they depend on. These rules prohibit dogs, biking, littering, camping, and building fires.

Unfortunately, we’ve found recent evidence of inappropriate activities, which has forced us to close the main access gate for vehicle parking until further notice. We must prioritize visitor safety and the protection of the preserve's natural resources and wildlife values. In the future, we will be coordinating with local law enforcement officials to increase their presence in and near the preserve to protect people and the habitat.

We ask the public who continue to visit the preserve through walk-in entrances to help us by following our policies to ensure a safe and enjoyable visit. When we can be confident the rules are being observed, we will open the parking area; if not, it will remain closed to vehicles.

Please help us protect the Matheson Wetlands Preserve as the sanctuary it is meant to be.

Respectfully,

Matheson Preserve Co-Managers

Nicole Nielson of the Division of Wildlife Resources and Linda Whitham of The Nature Conservancy