Public lands council looks at land use bill
The Emery County Public Lands council met for their August meeting. Chairman Ed Geary greeted the audience. He said for the July meeting the group went on a field trip and looked at the ongoing recovery work from the Seeley fire in June 2012. Some of the council members met with Alan Matheson from the governors office to talk about the Public Lands Bill. The governor is supportive of Cong. Bishop's public lands initiative and wants to become more informed on the issue. So he has assigned Matheson to work with Cong. Bishop and the counties involved on this lands bill.
The lands council is pleased to have the governor on board.
Public lands is still in the news with a letter by 14 Eastern Senators being sent to Pres. Obama to ask him to designate the Greater Canyonlands National Monument.
Ray Petersen, Emery County public lands director, Ethan Migliori, commissioner and Randy Johnson, public lands consultant recently visited Washington DC. While there they visited with the Utah delegation and also the BLM director. They reported those in Washington DC at the higher levels do not know what's going on at the local levels.
Commissioner James Nelson reported on a field trip that Cong. Jason Chaffetz arranged for Maryland Cong. Elijah Cummings to visit his congressional district. He was taken on tours of the area to see what's out here to gain greater understanding of what those in rural areas are dealing with.
Chris Wood from the Division of Wildlife Resources said they have removed deer and bear in the Green River area which have been detrimental to farmers in the area. The DWR is going to look at policy changes to allow these nuisance animals to be taken care of by the landowner.
The DWR has been conducting elk surveys and recently had a bat night where they viewed bats and educated the public on bats. The DWR has also been removing the blue headed sucker from out of Ferron Creek and relocating them to the lower San Rafael River.
Darren Olsen from the US Forest Service said they have been dealing with a few lightning strikes, weed spraying and trail work. The Groben burn won't take place this year. There is a power line that needs to be protected there. They will see what needs to be done so that line can be protected when burning does take place there in the future.
Olsen said lightning strikes are typical this time of year.
Mistie Christiansen, public lands council asked Olsen if there have been any conflicts with sheep and ATV users. She said ATV users need to know they can't chase sheep on their ATVs. Olsen said there are conflicts sometimes with campers chasing the sheep out of their campsites, but the sheep have a permit to be there and they must be left alone. Sometimes dogs that the campers bring chase the sheep and this too is a problem.
Mark H. Williams, public lands council, said they are working with the forest service on the old cattle trail above the former Desbee Dove mine. This trail will be widened to accommodate hand carts, hikers, ATV and cattle users. Olsen said they have been looking at that trail and will need to take comments on it.
The Pole Canyon trail in Huntington Canyon is still closed due to damage from flooding.
Commissioner Nelson said At your Leisure filmed a segment at the Millsite night Golf event and he also took them scorpion hunting.
The lower debris basin is close to receiving approval by the Army Corp. of Engineers. The upper debris basin also needs some modifications in making it more accessible for cleaning of debris during and after an event.
Ed Cox from Sen. Hatch's office said the Senator is working to educate those senators that signed the letter to Pres. Obama urging the designation of a national monument in Utah. He wants them to know Cong. Bishop has an ongoing process to manage the public lands without removing their use from the people. The designation of a monument would destroy the local process.
Cox said they are working hard to make sure everyone in Washington knows that Utah has a process its working through and Cong. Bishop is preparing a land use bill for Utah. Cox said, "The White House has a history of not giving a crap about what the Utah delegation wants."
Sherrel Ward, public lands council said he heard a little bit about the endangered species act that input would be needed not only from the Fish and Wildlife Service but local input would be needed before listings could take place.
Johnson said he's heard a little on that too, and will check into it. Cox said there are many things that could be done to make the Endangered Species Act better. Most of the people don't understand the Act and how harmful it can be. One example is the work that's been done to keep the sage grouse from being listed. A decision will be made on the sage grouse in 2015. A listing of the sage grouse could be devastating to several counties in Utah and surrounding states.
Miss Lockhart reported Sen. Lee is hosting an event on Aug. 21 at the Little America to discuss regulations at both the federal and local levels. Sen. Lee is back in the state for a month and visiting many places in the state. The quagga mussels are still a big topic in the state and how to keep them from spreading outward from Lake Powell.
Ward said he heard there are 13 states that aren't going to enforce the new EPA regulations for clean air and he wonders what will happen to them. Lawsuits could be filed, but Cox said he'd heard there wasn't anything clear about enforcement for the new EPA regulations at this time.
Johnson said Sen. Lee was very supportive of plans to expand Goblin Valley State Park.
Casey Snyder will replace Fred Ferguson in Cong. Bishop's office. Snyder said Cong. Bishop wants to take Emery County's public land use bill and run with it. Cong. Bishop is dedicated and public lands is a priority with him.
It's still not clear when Cong. Bishop's bill will be ready, but it looks like early 2015 would be the soonest it would be introduced. Some counties that aren't ready to move forward may fall behind according to Johnson, but Emery County has been very patient waiting for the bill to move.
Everyone seemed to agree that education is the key to getting this bill passed. The many diverse stakeholders must work together.
The BLM reported a helium well has been approved near Woodside. The comment period for the 29 oil and gas leases for the November oil and gas lease sales is open now. The BLM is looking at comments from the Range Creek fuels project which is proposing treatment for 50,000 acres in Range Creek. That comment period closed on July 26.
It was mentioned the BLM hasn't had a law enforcement contract with Emery County for the past two years.
Commissioner Nelson said it isn't a local problem because the BLM and Emery County have worked well together. The law enforcement contracts are being addressed at the state and national level.
Ward reported moisture is good. Mammoth Cottonwood is at 81 percent; Joe's Valley is at 86 percent. Cleveland Reservoir is 62 percent full; Millers Flat-67 percent; Huntington North-88 percent; Joe's Valley-80 percent and Millsite 88 percent; Electric Lake is at 72 percent. There are still snow drifts on top of Skyline Drive.