Public Lands Council Update
The Emery County Public Lands Council discussed the upcoming Division of Oil, Gas and Mining meeting which will take place Sept. 24 at the Carbon County Courthouse at 9 a.m. On the day prior Sept. 23, the DOGM board will tour various locations in Emery and Carbon counties relating to gas and mining operations such as the Wattis Mine reclamation site, Consol Mine, Live Earth and the Millers Canyon gypsum mines.
Craig Johansen, water subcommittee chairman for the council, reported that with shallow water at Joes Valley Reservoir and the extremely warm summer that just passed, the algae growth on the reservoir has increased a tremendous amount. This increase in algae has led to water supplies with odors and an odd taste. The water is still safe to drink and this condition will be around until temperatures cool.
At Electric Lake in August the water problems continued: 21 cfs of water was being pumped out of the James Canyon one and three wells. One well is into the mine and the other is into the rock formation and this water is returned to Electric Lake. The inflow into Electric Lake from natural resources was 3 cfs and the discharge down Huntington Creek was 7 cfs and the lake never raised an inch. This is 17 cfs of recirculation is what Utah Power officials call lost water. Total inflow is 24 cfs and with the outflow of 7 cfs this leaves the 17 cfs of missing water.
Council member, Tory Killian reported that the BLM RAC committee had met and adopted a recommendation on dispersed camping and she wondered if the council had a copy of what had been adopted or had been consulted about the recommendation. It was determined that no one had seen what had been approved and seemed to be in the dark on the issue. The Price BLM is planning a site tour of various dispersed camping spots on the Swell with county officials in early October. The lands council seemed to be under the impression that these tours and site discussions would take place before any recommendations were made.
Public Lands Director Ray Petersen reminded those present that the county is recognized as a cooperating agency in the resource management plan process which the BLM is undergoing at the present time. The BLM is still in the stage of developing alternatives for the RMP and when these alternatives are developed they will be presented in draft form for public comment and public meetings will be held to collect comments.
It was mentioned that with the route designation plan currently in place a lot of the dispersed camping spots were eliminated because you are not allowed to leave the main road.
Public Lands Council Chairman, Dennis Worwood reported that they had talked to Wilson Martin from the state history department. He has written Heritage Bills in the past and suggested Emery County consider a broader base than just Emery County for a Heritage Area. He stressed that a four-five county area combined would have a greater chance of passing a bill. Martin said to define what your heritage is and focus on two or three themes. He considered mining to be a good choice as well as dinosaurs, cowboy history and developing your local heritage industries.
It was determined that they invite Martin to the next public lands council meeting for a presentation on his ideas and possible directions the county could take in pursuing a Heritage Area.
Petersen reported that the subcommittee for access had met. They decided that rather than wait for each of the cities to develop an ATV access plan. The county would move forward on which roads they would allow ATV access on and those that are not suitable to be opened. The next access meeting is on Oct. 2 at 7 p.m.
Dickson Huntington, grazing subcommittee chairman, reported that on the forest service allotments they expected to stay full term with the cattle. He mentioned a program from the Farm Service Agency which helps with livestock assistance. The deadline is Oct. 24 to sign up and the stockman would be required to choose which year was the worst and be able to certify the figures for the assistance.
Worwood reported that he had gone with the forest service and other agencies to Gentry Mountain to look at conditions there. They have been having water trouble and had installed new troughs, but when they went back later on in the summer the troughs were dry and the springs feeding the troughs had dried up. The cattle were scattered but things looked pretty good.
The Division of Wildlife Resources is concerned about the low production of fawns in the deer population and that they estimated the crop of fawns to be only 16 percent. A 40 percent crop is needed to hold the deer population and remain level.
It was mentioned that a quota is being placed on the number of mountain lions on the Manti which should help the deer population. Johansen mentioned that they had seen bears in the Joes Valley Area and on Middle Mountain and it used to be unusual to spot bears but they seem to be seeing more of them all of the time.
Duck Fork Reservoir has been retreated with rotenone and they hope to stock fingerlings this fall. They did not find anymore fish in the reservoir. Wrigley's Reservoir is low and dropping. Work is being planned to stabilize the spring and waterway so available water reaches the reservoir.
The repair work on Ferron Dam is 50 percent complete. Work is being done to lower the dam and repair leaks to increase dam safety.
The BLM representative reported back to the council on some numbers they had requested. The council wondered where the money for special use permits on the BLM land went. She reported that $170,000 went into staffing and $6,000 went back into the program for maintenance, ATVs and boats. The permit money stays in the field office in which it is collected.
The next public lands council meeting will be held on Oct. 14 at 10 a.m. in the county building on Main Street in Castle Dale.