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Front Page » March 26, 2002 » Local News » News
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Millsite State Park in Ferron is one of six state parks on the state closure list.

It was with surprise that Emery County residents learned that Millsite State Park was on the closure list for cutbacks in state parks. Huntington, Millsite and Scofield Park Manager Ron Taylor said, "There is a story behind the whole deal. Since the beginning of the last fiscal year in July 2001 early predictions were that the financial status of the state would be bad. At the request of the agency several budget reductions were taking place on-going throughout the year.

"The state parks met multiple times to meet the governor's budget requirements. We were asked statewide to come up with $400,000 in reductions. We were hit with another $1 million which was internally adjusted. These reductions had been requested and met before the legislature came into session. We had gone along with the need to tighten our belts and had done those things.

"We consolidated Scofield with Huntington and Millsite State Park. When the boating ranger at Scofield retired he was not replaced. This was a savings of $40,000 per year. Other parks such as Flaming Gorge did the same thing; employees were not replaced to meet the governor's request.

"The legislature said that state parks will reduce their ongoing budget by $500,000 by closing parks. This didn't give state parks an option. So they are following that mandate by closing parks. I don't know what the legislature was thinking. It's a hard thing to close parks. The region managers and the State Park Board all got together to decide which parks to close to save $500,000.

"Two years ago state parks asked the governor and the legislature for $10 million to bring parks up to code. We were given half of that $5 million to do that. And now they want us to close parks. After much discussion they chose six parks to be eliminated. Otter Creek-Piute, Minersville, Fort Buenaventura in Ogden, Pineview-elimination of the boating ranger, Millsite and Jordan River are on the hit list.

"It took $30,000 to run Millsite in the year 2001. Revenues from park camping fees raised $13,000 in funding. This means a saving to the state parks of between $17,000 to $20,000 per year if Millsite is closed," said Taylor.

A public hearing concerning the Millsite closure will be held on April 3 at 6 p.m. at the Ferron City Hall.

Millsite State Park has operated with a manager who visited the park on a daily basis. They have one seasonal employee and a green thumb volunteer who is paid by the federal government and two-four camphosts each season. The only savings to the state parks will be in the elimination of the seasonal worker position. The other positions were volunteer. The park manager will remain with his duties including Huntington and Scofield. The city would not be able to operate the park as cheaply as the state parks has done. If the city cannot take over the park then it will revert back to Bureau of Land Management because it is on BLM land.

Millsite State Park will need the support of the people in the area to be saved. Creative financing will need to be addressed to show the state parks that Millsite can be operated with minimal expense from them. It's not worth closing for a savings of $20,000 per year. The citizens of the county are needed to show up and support the park. They need to let the state parks know that they are willing to pay fees. Improvements have been seen at Millsite and the people can see they are getting something for their investment in the park. The beauty of a state park is that the money stays at that park to make it better.

The people of Emery County will lose a great place to play if state parks pulls out of Millsite. Emery County does not have a lot of developed, protected, maintained play areas. If they lose this one it will be tragic for everyone. The worry is if people do not have areas to recreate in they will find them, this type of recreation sometimes causes trouble and closes recreational opportunities for everyone. New developments should be planned and closing Millsite should not be an option.

A public hearing will be held on April 3 at 6 p.m. at the Ferron City Hall. State Park Board members will be in attendance as well as other decision makers. Let your voice be heard by attending this public hearing.

Kathleen Truman solicits comments during a Saturday meeting regarding the San Rafael Swell National Monument proposal.

Concerns and questions over the proposed San Rafael Swell National Monument took center stage in a series of meetings held over the weekend.

The Emery County Public Lands Council sponsored two town meetings, one in Green River on Friday night and the other on Saturday morning at Emery High School. The recently established Castle Country Rural Alliance sponsored its own town meeting on Saturday night at Canyon View Junior High in Huntington.

The proposal to have the president declare the San Rafael Swell a national monument was first suggested during a public meeting held by the public lands council in January. During the meeting members of the public lands council and Emery County commission suggested the monument proposal as an alternative to years of failed efforts to pass legislation to protect local interests in the San Rafael.

Twice before Emery County has tried unsuccessfully to pass legislation concerning the San Rafael only to have it fail due to heavy opposition by environmental groups. The first attempt was in 1998 and the second in 2000. After the last failure the lands council and county leadership stepped back and tried to regroup. During the January meeting it was suggested that with a new administration in the White House which expressed interest in local initiatives, that a monument declaration might be Emery County's last, best chance to do something to protect local interests in the San Rafael Swell.

During Governor Mike Leavitt's state of the state address he mentioned the monument proposal. Following the governor's announcement concerning the Swell a storm of questions, accusations and confusion erupted over the proposal, with a large number of people fearing that the monument was a "done deal" and there was no going back.

During the meetings on Friday and Saturday county leadership and the lands council did their best to dispel those beliefs, emphasizing that the two meetings were the beginning of the process to solicit public input on how a monument proposal should be worded, or if a monument proposal should be drafted at all.

During the meetings Dennis Worwood, chairman of the public lands council, detailed to the audience previous county initiatives to address the San Rafael Swell and what had finally led the council and commissioners to propose a national monument.

Approximately 50 people attended the meeting in Green River and another 60 attended the meeting in Castle Dale.

Guest speakers for the council sponsored meeting were Dick Manus, retired BLM area manager, who explained the recently published BLM Travel Plan for the San Rafael. Access to the San Rafael Swell is a subject of strong emotion on all sides and during the meeting Randy Johnson, county commissioner, explained that the county had asked for and been granted an extension of the public comment period for the BLM Travel Plan (see related story on Page 1A). Kathleen Truman, of the Utah Travel Council also spoke to the audience about the planning process for the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument. Truman served as one of the Utah members in the planning process for that monument.

After hearing from guest speakers the audience was broken into groups so that public comments could be heard. Public comments ranged from support, to caution to outrage over the proposal, but the most common theme seemed to be that more information was needed before a decision was made. Others spoke of their fear that a monument designation was the last step down a slippery slope to a national park designation and that no matter what the county people proposed it would be warped into unrecognizable form by the time the national process was complete.

"When you try something new be prepared for it to blow up in your face and come back and eat you alive," said Wade Jensen, who said he was the last sheepherder on the Swell and after trying to work in good faith with government agencies he was faced with having to move his herds off the desert.

While some spoke of their support of the proposal, others feared that the proposal would end up hurting the county in the long run and lead to even more restrictions.

"If you designate it they will come. If they come you will have impact. If you have impact you will have restrictions," said Kelly Austin of Ferron.

After the breakout sessions those who attended the meeting met back in the auditorium where all of the solicited comments were shared. Further meetings on the monument proposal will be held in the near future with dates and times to be announced.

The featured speakers for the newly formed Castle Country Rural Alliance were Jim Parker who worked for the BLM on and off for 30 years as Utah State Director and National Associate and National Assistant Director for the BLM. Rick Crawford from Garfield County who spoke of the struggles his county has gone through and Dave Skinner who works for Montanans for Multiple Use and specialized in helping grass roots groups work with federal land managers.

The meeting was well attended with more than 150 people. Paul Conover began the meeting with a brief overview of what the organization hopes to accomplish. He described it as a 'work in progress.' Each speaker took some time and expressed their thoughts and ideas on the proposed monument as well as other issues. Each speaker was followed by a comment period from the audience where a number of questions were brought up and addressed.

The general message the speakers presented was for the public to get involved in the process and let their voices be heard.

Ramal and Carole Jones love to hunt for dinosaurs. They moved to Castle Dale from Sandy in 2001 when Ramal retired from the University of Utah and Carole retired from American Express.

They have two children and five grandchildren who all live in the area. Ramal said, "I grew up in Castle Dale. I met Carole in New York while I was in the Navy we were married in Hawaii in 1961. We lived in the California Bay Area for 24 years where I worked for General Electric. I was in the nuclear energy division working in research and development. Carole worked as a nurse and mother. We moved to Sandy in 1987. Our dinosaur career started in 1988.

"I went on a dig to the Long Walk Quarry below Castle Dale with the University of Utah. While there I got the idea that Carole and I should search for a dinosaur. We started searching in the Cedar Mountain Formation east of Castle Dale. After three years of off and on searching Carole found some small bone fragments. She called me back and she had spotted a small vertebra partially eroded out of the soil. We got really excited not realizing at the time how this would change our lives.

"We first offered to show the site to the University of Utah, but their excavation program was on hold at that time. So therefore they weren't interested at that time. I called Don Burge of the College of Eastern Utah Prehistoric Museum and showed him the site in 1993. I took a radiation survey meter to the site out of curiosity to check the bones for radioactivity. I found the bones to be radioactive. We mapped the site using radiation survey instruments. I told Don about it and went back to the U of U where I worked and modified the instrument to overcome background radiation.

"Carole and I returned to the site in August of 1993 and surveyed the site with the instrument. We took 850 readings in a two day period. I took the readings back to my computer and put them on a computer spread sheet. When I removed the background reading, the location of the bones stood out as shown by the higher radiological readings. This site has been named the Carole/RJ dinosaur quarry.

"In September of 1993, Don Burge came over with an excavation crew from CEU. Using the radiological survey instrument. We located major bones from the dinosaur skull. Carole's dinosaur was a Hadrosaur commonly called the duckbill. We have been called Mr. and Mrs. Dinosaur. In 1995 with the use of the instrument we found another dinosaur not far from where Carole had made her find. This dinosaur was a small armored dinosaur known as a Nodosaur. These two dinosaurs were named in honor of each of their finders. Carole's dinosaur is known as Eolambia Caroljonesa, pronounced ee-yo-Lamb-ee-uh kare-ul-Jones-uh. My dinosaur is known as Animantarx Ramaljonesi, pronounced an-ee-Man-tarx ram-al-Jones-eye.

"This was the first dinosaur found using a radiation survey instrument. My dinosaur was covered with two-three feet of soil. This was a crude instrument, but I developed a more advanced instrument that was used on future sites. We helped with the discovery of an allosaurus skull near Jensen at the Dinosaur National Monument. They had located a skeleton there that was remarkably complete. This indicated that the skull must be somewhere near but they could never find its location. We took a radiological measurement of the bones from the skeleton back at the lab. They indicated a measurement of 6.5 uR/hr, 4.5 uR/hr higher than the background radiation of 1 to 2 uR/hr at the theropod quarry. The above background reading indicated that uranium had been present during the fossilization process of the skeleton and that the bone had concentrated enough uranium to make a radiological survey feasible.

"We took a reading of the area and established the site background readings. When these readings were deleted it indicated elevated readings which indicated the possibility of buried bone at that location. This area was excavated the following year. Excavations were started and quickly exposed bone. As the bone was uncovered, it became evident that the crew was looking at the back surface of the missing theropod skull. The skull was miraculously well preserved.

"We were also asked to go to Hagerman Horse Quarry in Hagerman, Idaho to do surveys at their site. I do the survey and Carole records the data. We found many horse fossils in the area.

"I have a patent on the instrument through the U of U. I have published papers in the New Mexico Natural History and Science journal. In order for a dinosaur to be given a name something has to be published in a scientific journal. One time I spoke to 40 scientists at the Fossil Resource Conference in Rapid City, S.D. I have people with PhDs as coauthors on my papers. This is very unusual for a lay person and a unique situation. My instrument has been met with skepticism to start with. There were people who thought it wouldn't work. But, when we found the allosaurus skull the find was published nationally and internationally. This was a rare find. Carole and I have found three skulls.

"I have always had a scientific interest in all sciences. Growing up in Castle Dale I was interested in geology. I love discovery but I never thought this would happen. That I would be able to be on the same level as scientists. I went back to school and took palenetology classes for six years. I have a thirst for knowledge and think the earth has a huge story to tell and rocks reveal that story.

"There was a 60-70 million year gap in the history of the dinosaur. We knew about the Cleveland-Lloyd dinosaurs from the late Jurassic Period and we knew the history of the dinosaurs found in coal mines, but we didn't know much about the dinosaurs who walked the earth during the Cedar Mountain Formation. The last 15 years there have been a lot of discoveries that help tell the story of this gap.

"We love it here in Castle Dale. It has everything we enjoy doing. The desert, mountains, hunting, fishing and the geology of the area. We enjoy the solitude of the desert. We have loved it and the opportunities we've been given," said Ramal.

Carole said, "We were always rock hounds for many years while the kids were little. I would show Ramal the pretty rocks I would find and he would just throw them away. I told him one day I would find something that he wouldn't throw away and I did. It's been really fun and we have met a lot of people. I used to tell the people at my work that I was finding bones older than I was because I was the oldest one at my job. I listen to everything that goes on but I don't understand half of it. I enjoy supporting Ramal and we've done a lot of traveling with this."

Mr. and Mrs. Dinosaur have had a lot of publicity over the years. From CNN, Parade magazine, numerous interviews with Ed Yates from KSL Television, Paleoworld and the BBC dino detectives. Ramal said, "The dinosaurs are interesting to a large segment of society. We also developed a website for a research tool for school kids on the dinosaur quarry. We've been involved in the whole phase, the find, excavation, preparation and writing the stories. It's been a lot of work but we've enjoyed it. It's been a good thing to do together. We've shared the excitement and adventure together. Having dinosaurs named in our honor is very unique for a married couple. We plan on working on more dinosaur sites and do consulting work for the Bureau of Land Management and the forest service. We will also work with CEU and the San Rafael Museums.

"We have an exhibit at the U of U museum, they have my original machine in the exhibit. I hope someday to have that exhibit in our museum here in Castle Dale," said Ramal.

The Jones' will speak about their dinosaur adventures in a program sponsored by the Emery County Historical Society called "Dinosaur Odyssey" on March 28 at 6:30 p.m. at the Museum of the San Rafael.

The Emery County Commissioners met in their regularly scheduled meeting on March 19 at 9 a.m. Those present were Commissioners Randy Johnson, Ira Hatch and Drew Sitterud. Also present was Dave Blackwell, county attorney.

Maughn Guymon said a word of prayer at the beginning of the meeting and Carol Cox led those present in the pledge of allegiance. The first item of business was to add an executive session to discuss personnel matters as the last item on the agenda. Darrel Leamaster from the Castle Valley Special Service District was first on the agenda. He was representing the Emery County project review committee. He presented the project list which has been prepared to submit to the Community Impact Board. The local communities all submit a wish list for projects. Short term projects number 19 at a cost of 17 million. These projects are assigned a priority with an A, B, or C.

"This is the way the CIB has asked for these lists to be submitted to them. Emery Town has requested 11.5 million to install a pipeline, but most of the requests are substantially less than that. The medium term list is not prioritized and the entities are looking for funding in the next six years for those. There are $27.6 million worth of projects on the medium term list. I need the commission to look at and approve the list so it can be submitted to the CIB before the first of April," said Leamaster.

Commissioner Johnson commented that in the submissions the communities were relying heavily on grants and he hoped they had other alternate plans for funding and would be prepared if low or no interest loans were offered. The grant money from the CIB has decreased over recent years.

Commissioner Hatch wondered how close the total figure costs for the projects might be. Leamaster said there might be some difference but the figures were pretty close. A motion was made to approve the list for short and medium term capital improvements to be submitted to the CIB. Leamaster said he would take care of submitting the list.

The check edit, requisitions and dispositions were next on the agenda. Clerk Bruce Funk presented the list to the commissioners. A question on the cost of the gas bills at the Ferron Library was discussed. Commissioner Sitterud pointed out it was twice as much as the other libraries. The librarian present from Ferron said they would have the gas company come and check out the facility. Other questions in costs raised were the $900 gas bill at the museum and the $200 phone bill. Rex Funk from the road department explained the cost of $1,150 for the rebuilding of pumps and also the need for two windows in the office area where there is dead air space and no circulation or ventilation for the employee involved. The lists were approved.

The next item on the agenda was Pat Snowball with a request for a time and wage increase for an employee at the Ferron Library. After discussion the increase was approved. It was pointed out that personnel is the biggest expense for the libraries. Snowball's next request was for family leave time for an employee of the road department. The practice of employees donating time to an employee who doesn't have the time banked was discussed. This is done on a totally voluntary basis and the employee in need remains anonymous. The request was approved.

The next item on the agenda was a presentation by representatives from Consol. Bart Hyita presented an update. He said, "Consol operated until 1990 and the technology used was a continuous miner. We supplied coal to IPP in Delta and operated in two miner sections. We sold a blend product and the market for the product dryed up. The mine is now in poorer condition than we anticipated. We have contacted big customers in the east and midwest but we haven't had success. With the mild winter the demand has dropped off. We have contacted PacifiCorp and Los Angeles water and power for some test burns. We will look at selling smaller quantities in larger lot sizes.

"The coal is good quality and we will look to selling smaller volumes. We are a small player in the coal scene in Emery County. We are the little guy. We are a large coal company but just have a small operation in this area. This will be a disadvantage starting out but we hope to get bigger and be a long term player in Emery County and provide tax revenue for the county. We will start with local customers and do some test burns for the four major power plants in the area. We hope to get started in the next couple of quarters," said Hyita.

Seth McCourt, also from Consol spoke next he hung up a map of the mine and explained the former workings and where they hope to go in at this time. He said, "In mid-January we opened the doors to go into the mine and it was worse than anticipated. In the old workings there were stability problems. We are looking at a productive way to access reserves. The newer entries are in good shape. We will seal off the old workings and start new. We estimate there are 15-16 million tons of recoverable reserves which will be mined with a continuous miner.

"We are in favor of the proposed county loop road through Consol property and would like to discuss funding on that with you," said McCourt.

Rex Funk said the loop road would be a benefit in the area for farmers to access their lower properties and also to keep the trucks from Live Earth out of the residential areas of the town of Emery. It would also help with snow removal in the area and be more convenient for the road department.

McCourt said, "We have started the permitting on the other section of the mine." Commissioner Hatch wondered whose property the section was on. McCourt responded that some are federal lease and also Consol owned property. Val Payne wondered if the 4th East portal had been approved. McCourt said they have the approval to access coal, but are putting together the information to submit for the coal handling facility. Payne wondered what time frame they were looking at for reopening. McCourt said their goal was to be producing coal by Oct. 1. He mentioned the coal market would dictate production. But they hoped to mine 350,000 ton the first year. But, that production was subject to change.

Commissioner Johnson said, "We appreciate your coming today to give us an update and we anticipate the long awaited reopening of the mine."

Rosann Fillmore, economic development director for Emery County was next on the agenda. She said the Industrial Park board has agreed to sell what's left of that property to Talon Resources. She pointed out the Industrial Park would keep the wet portion. Talon would purchase the remaining 12.3 acres. The commission approved the agreement.

The next item on the agenda was the citizen's concerns. Eugene Johansen said he had a few remarks. He was interested in Consol and mentioned that Energy West mines seven million ton per year, Suffco-five million ton, Skyline four million ton, Genwal-three million ton and Co-op Mine just under a million ton per year. He said he had a question about the new public safety complex. He said he had looked through the books on statutes but could not find anything pertaining to what governs an open canal. He was concerned about the safety issue of annexing it and putting it in the middle of Castle Dale City. He said a fence would be needed on both sides of the canal leaving 50 feet on each side. This would cost approximately a half a million dollars. This needs to be addressed and plans made as to how to handle this. Would the water users pay? Would they get a grant? Would the county build it? These are questions that need to be addressed stressed Johansen.

Commissioner Johnson explained that the only reason Castle Dale City is annexing the public safety complex is because the State court has successfully secured funding to join the project and they have to be within the boundaries of the county seat in order to meet state statutes. Castle Dale City will be annexing a line of property to run to the jail. Commissioner Johnson described the situation as a dilemma and said, "We have to obviously be creative in dealing with the canal."

Commissioner Hatch wondered who normally would be responsible for maintaining the canal. No one could answer that question. Commissioner Johnson said that they would have to look at the annexation in a new light.

The next item on the agenda was the approval of the issuance of a business license for Genwal. The next item on the agenda was the approval of the reappointment of Mack Huntington and Ken Stilson to the Planning and Zoning Commission. The next item on the agenda was the approval of the appointment of Jackie Ungerman to the Emery County Travel Bureau.

The next item on the agenda was the presentation by Bruce Funk on the school district boundaries. They are reviewed every 10 years based on the information gathered from the census. It was determined that the boundaries were within limits and that the numbers were closer than they were previously. Commissioner Hatch made a motion to reaffirm the boundaries as they are currently mapped.

The next item on the agenda was the transfer of watershares to Castle Dale City to cover the needs at the public safety complex. The May Tax Sale was set for May 23 at 10 a.m. at the courthouse. The next item was the approval of the minutes with a few minor changes. In the commission reports the commissioners reminded citizens of the upcoming meetings on the Monument proposal. The meeting was adjourned into executive session.

The next commission meeting will be held on April 2 at 4 p.m.

The Price Field Office of the Bureau of Land Management initially released the Environmental Assessment for the San Rafael Route Designation Plan February 7, 2002. The objective of the San Rafael Route Designation Plan is to establish a vehicle network which would provide recreational and other access to public lands while at the same time protecting sensitive natural and cultural resources. The Plan implements a decision reached by the BLM in 1991 when it completed the San Rafael Resource Management Plan. This land use plan directed BLM to identify and designate specific vehicle routes within "Limited Use Areas" where vehicle use is restricted to designated roads and trails. The plan affects over 1.1 million acres of public lands.

Four alternatives with specific objectives designed to resolve conflicts and concerns with the resources and manageability and analyzed. Alternatives range from designating all 1,074 miles of inventoried routes to designating 580 miles of routes.

BLM has received a request to extend the public comment period beyond the current March 22 date. BLM has reviewed the request and is granting an extension of the public comment period on the San Rafael Route Designation Plan until April 22.

Written comments should be submitted to : BLM, Attn: Route Designation Plan, 125 S. 600 W., Price UT 84501.

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