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AVON, Cache County — Cinnamon Creek, with its rolling hills and stands of aspen trees, has drawn hunters and anglers for years.
And with the cutting of an orange ribbon at its opening gate, Utah wildlife officials say that tradition will last for years to come. The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources celebrated its new ownership of the land with a ribbon-cutting ceremony to open the new Cinnamon Creek Wildlife Management Area on Friday.
The event, in many ways, signals the beginning of transformations in the area after the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources acquired the 8,107-acre plot of land just north of the Weber and Cache county border in a public auction that ended in November 2021.
"Obtaining the property is a major win for wildlife and wildlife enthusiasts," said Daniel Olson, a regional habitat manager for the division, in a statement Monday.
Hunters and anglers used the land in the past because state wildlife managers had an agreement in place with the land's previous owner, the Utah School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration. However, the use was placed in jeopardy when the administration announced it intended on selling the land.
Cinnamon Creek is also considered a "vital" summer range for wildlife, including big game species, according to the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources. The creek is home to some of the best Bonneville cutthroat trout in the state, too.
With the possibility of losing the wildlife space, Utah wildlife officials began gathering millions of dollars from multiple organizations and government entities, including the Utah Legislature and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, to place the winning bid of a little more than $20 million to keep it open for recreational uses.
The official deed transfer was completed in July, which is when it officially became the 193rd wildlife management area in the state.
Days after that transfer, the division sent crews out to the area to begin improvements to the entrance of the new wildlife management area, expand its parking lot and place a new culvert in the area to reduce the risk of flooding. The team also rebuilt the road leading into the management area, which had fallen into disrepair.
Similar work is expected ahead, especially as the division looks to clean up the damage done to the land.
"Most of the roads on the (wildlife management area) are in bad shape. Recreational users have also created roads where roads shouldn't be," Olson said. "Providing nice roads for people to travel on and closing the spur roads that have developed through the years are among our first priorities."
Olson adds that the area's fences are also in need of extensive repair. That said, state wildlife officials say the land itself is in "decent shape" overall, meaning that they believe that any future habitat reclamation efforts will be successful.
The division expects to form a planning committee to develop a Cinnamon Creek management plan at the start of 2023. The committee will determine the types of activities permitted within the management area in the future.
While it will likely remain open to hunting and fishing, the management area is one of the 23 where target shooting is currently banned because of wildfire risks.