Road to Bear River Bird Refuge to be Repaired

Road to Bear River Bird Refuge to be Repaired

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BRIGHAM CITY, Utah (AP) -- The road to the Bear River Bird Refuge that was breached by a rancher hoping to drain his flooded fields will be repaired, city officials said.

City Administrator Don Tingey said Monday that the city will repair the road although no one is sure whose responsibility it is.

The breach has cut off access to the bird refuge, a major tourist draw for the Brigham City area, and that has got to be fixed, he said. "We'll worry about who pays for it later."

The gap, 12 feet wide and 4 feet deep, was dug through the road to the refuge May 1 by rancher Todd Yates, who claimed flooding from the Bear River was killing his cattle.

Water released by Utah Power and Light from Cutler Dam had flooded his fields and he said he needed to cut the road, which is along the top of a dike that makes up part of the refuge.

In front of TV news cameras, Yates got Box Elder County Commissioner Scott Hansen on the phone, said he faced a disaster if the road wasn't cut,and got permission to do so.

Al Trout, manager of the bird refuge, said cutting the road had virtually no effect on the water levels.

Tingey said the repair will be temporary because there are plans by the federal government to upgrade the road. The city will drop a 36-inch pipe into the gap, then fill the rest with gravel and dirt and put an asphalt cap on top.

Trout said the repair is especially now needed because this weekend is the Great Salt Lake Bird Festival, when hundreds of bird-watchers go to the refuge.

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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