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Front Page » July 16, 2013 » Opinion » Editor's notes: Government process moving slowly as usual
Published 279 days ago

Editor's notes: Government process moving slowly as usual


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By PATSY STODDARD
Editor

Government process moving slowly as usual

It may not be good to express concern, consternation and downright annoyance at the bureaucracy of the federal government, the BLM in particular this day.

I just came from a public hearing concerning the construction of a debris basin in Huntington Canyon.

Last year it became very apparent that something needed to be done to in some way control the debris flows from the burn area into Huntington Creek.

Approximately July 30 of 2012, a rain storm and not that big or long in duration of a rain storm caused a debris flow that was tremendous. I've seen the footage first hand of how Huntington Creek became a roaring monster carrying anything and everything in its path downstream.

One of my crazy children stood on the bridge that passes over Mill Fork and filmed video of the flow and then proceeded to follow the flow downstream by vehicle. It was unbelievable.

Will these flooding events happen again this summer? Well, right now it isn't known if the thunderstorms common in late July to early August will come or not. The question is will the county be prepared if it happens again. Right now the answer is no, the county isn't much better off than it was last year.

There's been talk of a debris basin for months now and construction still hasn't begun. The process is in the environmental analysis phase.

In the public hearing today, it was said the US Forest Service is doing projects on the forest, like creating sediment basins, road work and other preventative measures for flood control. They are able to do these projects without all the usual red tape because at the end of the fire last year they completed a BAER plan. Burn Area Recovery Plan so they can proceed with measures to mitigate damages on the forest land. This is great.

I wonder why the BLM at that time didn't prepare a similar document so they could be ahead of the game when it came to doing what needs to be done to stop debris and sediment from damaging the new Huntington-Cleveland Irrigation system which is in its final phases of installation. The sediment into this system is very damaging to sprinklers and pipelines and causes major problems in just getting the water to the irrigators.

Huntington City worked earlier this spring to clean the debris from under the bridges and from the river near the city. Now it seems their work may be undone if and when the sediments come down the river again.

The river ran black again this past weekend when small storms came to the area.

While I'm on the subject, I feel like the forest service should take a little more responsibility for their trees doing damage below the forest service boundaries. They should be a little more helpful and considerate of those irrigators and landowners who have suffered damages from the forest service's lack of control of their resources. If you as a private individual damage someone else's property, chances are you would be responsible for restitution to the damaged property owner. You would also be responsible to ensure it didn't happen again, and maybe there would even be court proceedings against you to punish you for the damage you caused.

I do understand that the BLM says they need to adhere to their protocol and procedures, but in emergency situations, which this is, then I think exceptions should be allowed. They should have written a plan so repairs and sediment control structures could be constructed in a timely manner.

Those debris flows are terribly dangerous. I feel the county has been extremely lucky and blessed that no injuries were sustained in the fire and subsequent flooding. Things should be handled in a timely manner and this debris basin construction is not moving fast enough that it will do any good this year should flooding occur which according to past weather patterns happens the end of July and early-mid-August.

I hope the BLM can be held accountable for damages to private land owners and irrigators for any damages that come this summer to these people as the BLM, I feel, again places protocol over people and their lives and property.

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