Rich County "Code of the West"

Famous western writer Zane Grey first chronicled the Code of the West. The men and women who came to this country during the United States westward expansion were bound by an unwritten code of conduct. The values of integrity and self‐reliance guided their decisions, actions and interactions.

In keeping with that same spirit, we offer this information to help citizens and future citizens of Rich County to make informed decisions as they contemplate living or moving to rural areas like Rich County. Rural counties all over the country have adopted the “Code of the West” usually by resolution for information purposes only.


  • This document is intended to inform you that life in remote rural areas is very different from life in the city.
  • County governments are not able to provide the same level of service in undeveloped, rural and remote areas as cities do inside urban or developed areas.
  • To that end, we are providing you with the following information to help you make an educated decision when choosing to purchase or develop rural land outside the boundaries of incorporated cities or towns.


  • Emergency response time (for Sheriff, Fire, medical care, etc), cannot be guaranteed. Under some extreme conditions you may find emergency response is extremely slow and costly.
  • It is wise to obtain legal advice and understand the easements that may be necessary, to serve your property or that you must maintain to serve others.
  • Extreme weather conditions and natural disasters can destroy roads. Spring runoff or hard rain can also wash out roads. If this condition occurs, you may report it to the county road department but repairs may be delayed until funds are available.
  • If your road is unpaved, it is highly unlikely that Rich County will pave it in the foreseeable future. Unpaved roads can require costly vehicle maintenance when you regularly travel on them. If your road is private, you will be required to clear snow and maintain it yourself.
  • Mail and newspaper delivery is not available to all areas of the county. Check with your postmaster and the newspaper of your choice to find out the delivery system you will need to use.
  • School buses travel only on maintained county roads that have been designated as school bus routes by the school district.

Utility Services

  • Water, sewer, electrical, telephone and other services may have limited availability in certain areas of the County or may not operate at urban standards.
  • Cellular phones may not receive reception in many areas of the County.
  • In many areas, sewer is not available. It will be necessary for you to qualify your property for use of a septic system. Check with the Bear River Health Department in Logan, Utah to determine if the property you are interested in buying is suitable for a septic system, prior to purchase.
  • The State of Utah controls permits for drilling new or replacement wells. You may need to purchase an existing water right prior to getting a permit to drill or even use water from an existing well or you may be able to establish a new water right. Establishing, changing and maintaining a water right is a complex, regulated task and you may need professional assistance. Contact the Utah State Division of Water Rights for more information. Make sure your needs can be met by the water rights you have secured.
  • Electrical service may not be available in all areas of the County.
  • Power outages can occur in rural areas with more frequency than urban areas. A loss of electric power can interrupt your supply of water from a well and can cause problems for your freezers, refrigerators, or other electron devices.
  • It may be necessary to cross property owned by others in order to extend services to your site in the most cost efficient manner. It is important to make sure that you have the proper easements in place to allow access through other properties.
  • Trash removal may not be available in the more remote areas of the County. Be sure and check with the County Sanitation Department to determine if you have trash pickup.
  • Rich County has laws which prohibit and/or restrict the open burning of trash and yard debris. You will need to contact the applicable local fire protection District and the County Fire Marshall to determine your ability to burn these types of materials on your property.

The Property

  • “Build the subdivision first, build the homes second” This motto is followed by Rich County. Subdivision recording and full development infrastructure are to be in place before a building permit will be issued.
  • Construction of most buildings in Rich County requires County issued building permits and inspections. Depending on the building location and use, other permits and approvals may also be required, such as conditional use, zone change, or subdivision approval.
  • Easements may require you to allow public access or construction of roads and other infrastructure through your property. Be sure to check this carefully. Easements may be recorded or enforced by prescription.
  • You may be provided with a plat of your property, but unless the land has been surveyed and pins placed by a licensed surveyor, you cannot assume that the plat is accurate.
  • Do not assume that fences accurately delineate property boundaries. Fences are not necessarily in the same location as the property lines.
  • The County does not get involved in enforcing private CC&R’s or homeowner’s association rules.
  • The beautiful view or open spaces adjacent to your home are not guaranteed in perpetuity. Check with the Bear Lake Regional Commission & Rich County Building Inspector to find out how the properties are zoned, find out what kind of buildings and uses are allowed, and to see what future developments may be in the planning stages.
  • The development of lots or portions of lots may be affected by geological hazards such as; frequent flooding, wetlands, streams, groundwater, poor soils, etc.

Mother Nature

  • Due to the vegetation and mountainous terrain in many areas of Rich County the risk of wild land fire is a threat that property owners need to be aware of. Some parcels in the County are remote and located in areas not accessible by fire apparatus.
  • The topography of the land can tell you where the water will go in the case of precipitation. When property owners fill in ravines, the water will flow where it needs to and sometimes that might even be through your home.


  • Rich County is historically an agricultural area. Farmers often work around the clock, especially during planting and harvest time. Hay is often swathed or baled at night. It is very possible that you will be disturbed by the smells or sounds of an agricultural business.
  • Animals and their manure can cause objectionable odors. The County is not going to intervene in these processes unless a health hazard has been determined by the County Health Department.
  • Land preparation can cause dust especially during windy periods. If you choose to live near a farming area, be prepared for the good and bad that is associated with that area.


This list is by no means a complete description of what there is in Rich County. There are other issues that you may encounter that we have overlooked. We encourage you to do as much research as possible before committing to a rural lifestyle.

Code of the West (MS Word)

Code of the West (PDF)

Code of the West (RTF)