Emery County joins group protesting wild horse and burro over-population
Joel Hatch approached the Emery County Commissioners to ask for their support of the newly formed Western Rangelands Conservation Association Inc. This association is preparing to take the Bureau of Land Management to court for their lack of management of the wild horse and burro population.
The overpopulation is especially problematic in Kane and Iron counties. Iron County has determined they will take upon themselves to round up the horses and take them to a holding center.
Hatch told the commissioners she runs cattle in Iron and Beaver counties. Last season the BLM asked the grazers to take a voluntary 40 percent reduction in numbers. This reduction was asked for because the rangeland cannot support the overpopulation of wild horses and burros and the cattle. One of the reasons the BLM lists as why they can't do anything with the wild horses and burros is lack of funding.
But, Hatch told the commissioners how does the BLM have enough money to round up Cliven Bundy's cattle in Nevada which is very expensive and not have enough money to take care of the wild horse and burro overpopulation.
"We need to hold the BLM accountable for the overpopulation of wild horse and burros just as we are accountable for our cows. The horses double in population every four years. This is our livelihood. We feed the world," said Hatch.
Hatch went on to ask Emery County to lead out on this problem and join the fight.
Commissioner James Nelson said he attended one of the meetings of the Rangeland group. Of the 30 in attendance seven of the people were from Emery County and Dustin Huntington from Castle Dale is on the board.
It was mentioned the Price Field Office reports the San Rafael is 300 animals over the Acceptable Management Level.
Commissioner Jeff Horrocks wondered if the group has approached the state for help. They have received $5,000 from the farm bureau and $2,000 from SITLA, but they haven't asked for any state funding at this time.
Ray Petersen from the Emery County Public Lands asked what exactly they were litigating. He said the litigation should state the BLM must manage according to the levels listed in each of their resource management plans. Each field office has their own RMP.
Commissioner Ethan Migliori suggested they get the Emery County Public Lands Council involved. Their next meeting is May 6. Petersen said the lands council has asked the Price BLM about the horse and burro problem and they don't have any answers.
The commission determined Commissioner Nelson will write a letter to the BLM expressing the concerns of the county and asking them to abide by their own rules. Also in the letter they will voice their opposition of the gathering of the cattle in Nevada and request they not be brought into Utah to be sold.
Sheriff Greg Funk said the gathering of the cows is a Nevada issue, but they shouldn't bring Utah into it, by trying to cross statelines with the cows. Sheriff Funk is concerned that the SITLA land in the Swell will be swapped out for other lands and then they will lose SITLA as a partner in fighting the BLM. In Wyoming the BLM was forced to take care of their wild horse problem because the horses were congregating on private land and they had to move them out.
Commissioner Migliori asked Senator David Hinkins what the governors office thinks of the issue. He said he hasn't discussed the issue with the governor but he has talked to the Lt. governor about it.
SITLA is willing to help get the money appropriated to remove the animals from SITLA grounds.
Sen. Hinkins said he is opposed to trading out lands on the Swell because all of the resources there haven't been explored and its unwise to tie them up.
The commissioners approved $1,000 for a membership in the Western Rangelands Conservation Association. The next meeting of that association is April 25 at 4 p.m. in Beaver.
Other commission business included Treasurer Steve Barton asking the commissioners for permission to work with a tax payer to keep his property off the May tax sale.
The commission approved the communication lease agreement with River Canyon Wireless.
All-Star property management was approved for lawn care for the libraries.
Ross Huntington the chairman of the Emery County Care and Rehab board presented a plan to the commissioners to help with some of the debt service owed the Local Building Authority. There is a new subsidy program from the state of Utah for non-state owned nursing facilities.
The county needs to contribute $181,000 to the state fund by April 15 and the care center will receive back $550,000. They will be able to pay their debt service, pay their vendors and have some left over.
The board will structure a lease to pay back the county for their $181,000 investment.
This will be an ongoing program the care center will qualify for in the future. The subsidy is for the level of care the center provides and will bring it from a medicare level to a medicaid level.
Commissioner Migliori said this will give the care center the opportunity to come into a better financial situation.
Ross Huntington said the subsidy is based on the level of care given to patients or the acuity. Some patients require more care than others. The money will arrive on June 1 and will be in the amount of $551,679.16. The county will provide the seed money, this money has to come from a sponsoring agency.