Public lands council hears agency updates
At the recent public lands council meeting, Emery County Public Lands Administrator Ray Petersen, who covers access for the public lands council, informed the council that a meeting had taken place concerning the trail between Huntington Canyon and the Des-Bee-Dove road. This trail has been used in the past for an OHV poker ride during Huntington's Heritage Days. A request was made to the county commissioners to apply for the rights-of-way from SITLA to this area.
One issue raised in the meeting concerning this trail is the RS-2477 rights on this trail. Many other issues concerning the county's acquisition of the easement to this trail were also brought forward. Petersen stated the next meeting of this committee will be Dec. 1 at 7 p.m. in the public lands office in the county building.
Petersen also stated the Emery County Commissioners are attending the Utah Association of Governments conference where the ongoing RS-2477 issues will be discussed. Their reports will be presented at next month's meeting.
Gary Petty, who presides over the forest service issues for the public lands council reported he has attended several meetings with the forest service. These meetings have been centered around the issues of the beetle killed trees and wildlife protection surrounding those killed trees. "Should there be a forest fire, the stands of dead pines trees will virtually explode, and the wildlife habitat would be destroyed. Not only that, but that is our watershed and I see a real potential for disaster for Emery County. It appears to me that the forest service is doing all they can do at this time to deal with the issue of the dead trees," said Petty. "The prescribed burns that were planned have not been done due to the wet weather in October, but the forest service will keep doing what they can."
Petersen mentioned the five year plan the forest service has in place. He stated the plan has a fuels reduction component and several projects have been completed. "As far as the beetle killed trees, the damage has been done here, it is too late. The forest service is doing some spraying, but it is mostly too late," said Petersen.
Vernell Rowley, who covers heritage of public lands, reported a meeting was held recently concerning the Old Spanish Trail. This meeting concerned the agencies involved in the national trails committee, and the Old Spanish Trail has definitely been named to the national register. The trail has three unique items pertaining to Emery County.
Two of those items are points where the trail crosses water, one being the Huntington Creek and the other being the Green River crossing. The third item of uniqueness is that 85 miles of the Old Spanish Trail is in Emery County.
Petersen mentioned the resource management plan that will be issued by the BLM now has a section that specifically addresses the Old Spanish Trail.
Bruce Wilson, council chairman, reported on the mining, minerals, and coal bed methane. He said SUFCO mine is having problems with their drilling rigs. The small rigs that have been brought in have tested the coal in the upper seam, and it has been found unsatisfactory. Bigger rigs will need to be brought in to drill into the lower seam. If the findings on the quality of that coal are the same as the upper seam, the project will be abandoned.
Wilson also stated that XTO has donated $600 to the Emery County Fire District. He also mentioned that XTO is attempting to amend their permit concerning their pumps and pumping stations. The change will enable them to pump more product.
A new mine is being proposed near the town of Scofield. The owners are applying for the necessary permits. Also, the recent court decision has set the Rilda Canyon project back. Petersen stated at a recent meeting concerning the Lila Canyon Mine, John Baza from the Division of Oil, Gas and Mining, declared a close to the informal hearing concerning the project. A decision will come within 60 days of the final date of the end of the hearing process.
Petersen reported the project at the Wedge is mostly completed. The road has been graveled, and the parking area near the restroom has been finished. The final decision is not to address camping in this area at this time. Camping should remain the same as in past years. New picnic tables have been placed in the area. Petersen also noted no dust suppression for the road was allowed in the permit.
Wayne Luddington of the BLM noted there is still some clean up to do at the site, along with delineation of campsites. Informational kiosks and more signs will be placed in the area as soon as they are available.
Petersen informed Sherrel Ward, who is over the water for the public lands council, the recommendations recently made by the NRCS to lower participation rates to 50 percent has alarmed many people. The Huntington irrigation project which involves the installation of sprinkler systems has been guaranteed to be completed at the old rate of 75 percent. Any other projects concerning the Colorado River Salinity Project will be taken on a case by case basis.
Ward informed the council that negotiations with CW Mining have been completed concerning the perentages of water. The Mohrland portal is proposed to open in 2007 and the Hiawatha portal is proposed to open in 2008. These are located on private property.
Luddington told the council of the hiring of Bill Allinson. The BLM has secured money from OHV funds to hire Allinson as the OHV volunteer coordinator. So far, Allinson has logged more than 200 volunteer hours in several trail maintenance projects throughout the area. A new map for the San Rafael Swell OHV trails has been proposed. A committee has been formed to undertake this project.
Another project being undertaken by the BLM is the remodeling of the Cleveland Lloyd Dinosaur Quarry. The visitor center at the quarry will be expanded, and the observation platforms will be redone. Along with the other upgrades, new sidewalks will be installed. Luddington stated the BLM hopes to have this project completed by April.
Sgt. Carl Gramlich of the Division of Wildlife Resources reported concerning the hunting seasons. He said the weather this year was quite different from last year. As a result, the animals are more dispersed and harder to find. The final numbers of the success of hunters will be known at a later date. He also stated that if someone is having problems with beavers in the waterways, call Casey Olsen or Jay Topham with the DWR, and they will help.
Bryan Torgersen from SITLA informed the council of a new project coming in the near future. The project will be drilling for oil and gas in the Drunkard's Wash area on SITLA managed property. He mentioned negotiations are ongoing with the DWR concerning SITLA managing some lands in the Range Creek area for the University of Utah.
As a final act of the public lands council for November, it was approved to begin the advertising process for the four seats on the council that will become vacant at the end of the year. Petersen explained the seats now held by Bruce Wilson, Vernell Rowley, Clyde Magnuson, and Sherrel Ward will be available. Those members who now hold those seats are eligible to reapply.
The next public lands council meeting will be Dec. 13 at 10 a.m. in the county building.