BLM Deputy Director Tours the Swell Area
|The tour visited the Wedge where they had lunch overlooking the edge.|
It was a return to his old stomping grounds for former Carbon County resident, Fran Sherry who now resides about 20 miles out of Washington D.C. He said that the Bureau of Land Management Director, Kathleen Clarke was probably the only one that could get him to live somewhere like Washington. Especially after his last job as the BLM field office manager in Alaska. Sherry is now the deputy director with the National BLM.
Sherry was on tour with Sally Wisely, Utah State BLM director, BLM Price Office officials and Emery County Commissioners for two days. Their tour of the Swell included the regions south of I-70 one day with a visit to Little Horse Canyon, Goblin Valley and the Hidden Splendor with a rest overnight in Green River. Green River Mayor Glen Johnson arranged for a local treat that evening with a meal at Ray's Tavern and then a tour of the John Wesley Powell museum with a discussion afterwards. Mayor Johnson mentioned the need to update the slide show for the museum and Sherry thought the BLM might be able to help out with this effort considering how Emery County is primarily BLM land. The tour resumed the following morning with a tour of Black Dragon Canyon which Sherry described as beautiful and containing a different culture of people than those farther north. They also visited the Swinging Bridge and the Buckhorn Panel and ended up at the Wedge for lunch. A tour of the Cleveland/Lloyd dinosaur quarry in the afternoon and an introduction to the coal bed methane gas wells in the Drunkard's Wash area was also part of the itinerary.
Sherry said, "I am so impressed with the cooperation with the county officials. It is a model for the bureau and other counties to follow. The condition of the roads on the Swell are excellent which is a credit to those involved. The cooperation between the BLM and the sheriff's office in providing an officer to patrol the Swell is an excellent example of what can happen if we work together. We need to realize that the old industries like gas and mining are not expanding and they are doing the work with fewer workers. What do we have to do to keep our young people here?
"We are committed to work with the county and I endorse what Patrick Gubbins the Price Field Office manager is doing. The route plan is now in place and the job is to manage it. I spent years in this area, Easterin' and enjoying the Swell. We need to take another look at the closed areas and the little short roads that lead to camping spots. After Easter the Price Office and the commissioners will get out and look at these dispersed areas. We visited a campsite where there were one set of tracks leading in and a fire ring. I don't see any reason why campsites of this type should be closed. I talked to a guy down at the Buckhorn Panel who said that he and his family from Payson have been coming down here for 36 years. We need to recognize traditions and keep them going.
"The county will be involved as we go through and complete the suitability studies for wild and scenic rivers. We need to take into account the water needs of the local communities.
"I hope the Swell area is a model for how we do things in the rest of the bureau. We need to manage and recognize the Swell for its unique recreational values. The resource management plan will be a guiding document for this management. I don't anticipate any special designation for this area, but we plan to address areas of critical concern. Emery County recognizes the uniqueness of the area and wants to take care of it. The Swell is a hands-on landscape and we need to enjoy and use it. We need to work hard to choose the best routes especially if there are other means of accessing the same area. Ninety-five percent of the public enjoys the values and wants to protect it, but there is a small percentage that abuses the land and forces us into unpopular positions. We've been very happy with the help of the OHV clubs and their work on the Swell. I have proposed that we have patrols on the Swell like that similar to the ski patrol where good will ambassadors and folks who know the area can advise others on open roads and regulations.
"The message I would like to leave is that the management of the Swell should not be dictated by Washington, but by local people making the decisions to get this done. When the alternatives are developed for the resource management plan they will be opened up for public comment and we hope people will take advantage of this opportunity to be involved," said Sherry.