No love for Lycra in Moab

  For the third time since October, someone has fired shots into the empty fee booth at the entrance to Moab's Sand Flats Recreation Area, which includes the popular Slickrock bike trail. The Bureau of Land Management and Sand Flats are offering a $2,000 reward for information leading to the culprits. Investigators have no leads, but police and Sand Flats officials are convinced that local residents are responsible.

Last year, vandalism cost about $7,000, almost 90 percent of the recreation area's entire maintenance budget. Sand Flats program director Michael Smith said not all the vandalism is caused by area residents, but he believes that the more serious acts, like the shootings, are committed by locals. Smith said recently that he is more concerned about incidents that directly threaten visitors' safety than about the fee booth shootings.

"They've been shooting the booth when no one is in there," Smith said. "But last fall we had several reports of drivers trying to run down mountain bikers. I'm worried that someone is going to be physically injured."

Smith also cited instances of people intentionally driving through occupied campsites late at night. In one such incident, three pickup trucks roared through a camp at 3 a.m. "The people in the trucks threw beer bottles (at campers) and shouted, "Yuppie scum, go home," "''''said Smith. "No one got a license plate number, but the trucks had Utah plates. We believe they were locals."

Since a $5 per vehicle admission fee was imposed in 1995, Sand Flats staffers say they have continually encountered resistance from local residents who resent having to pay to go to the area.

*Lisa Church