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Front Page » January 24, 2006 » Local News » Public lands council hears water update
Published 4,048 days ago

Public lands council hears water update

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This sign marks the path the old Spanish Trail took through Emery County. The Spanish Trail was used as early as 1598 through the 1800s as a major commerce route between Santa Fe, N.M. and Los Angeles, Calif.

Snowpack is near normal was the news the Emery County Public Lands council heard in their January meeting. Sherrel Ward is the head of the water subcommittee, he read numbers from a Utah water outlook supplement which combines Carbon, Emery, Wayne and Grand counties. The Price River is 115 percent of average with the San Rafael at 114 percent and the Muddy River 107 percent.

Snow pack is near normal at 91 percent. The Southern region which flooded last year is much dryer this year.

The soil is not nearly as saturated as it was last year, from the fall rain storms.

Ward also reported the Huntington/Cleveland Irrigation salinity project has experienced increases in pipe prices which will extend the completion of the project. The project might also be eligible for some grants which would help with expenses. Bids on two of the laterals will be posted in February beginning on the very end in North Elmo and on the upper Huntington. Ward also informed the council that Huntington North Reservoir has been eliminated from the Warren Act and there will be no fee to use that reservoir.

If enough pressure exists then the water can come out of Huntington North but if enough pressure isn't available a storage pond by Huntington Airport will be used.

Ray Petersen, public lands director reported that he and Commissioner Drew Sitterud had met with the Bureau of Land Management for final input into the new route designation plan which updates the old map. Petersen also mentioned the Cedar Mountain Wilderness area recently approved by Congress and signed by the President which designates 100,000 acres of wilderness in the West Desert. The BLM had recommended 50,000 acres and SUWA wanted the higher acreage and the legislation flew right through. County commissioners felt it was all a political ploy to keep the Goshute Indian Reservation from using any of their land as a nuclear waste repository as the wilderness bill would cut off the access to the land where a railroad spur was needed to ship the nuclear waste into the reservation.

Petersen and the commissioners advised everyone to stay on top of these types of developments where wilderness is designated to stop development.

Mark H. Williams approached the council concerning signage. The OHV club is ready to sign trails on the Swell. Petersen said all county roads have a number and this number should be kept the same on the signs. Commissioner Sitterud also said the BLM and forest service, counties and state are all working on a project to coordinate road names and numbers so they all have a common name for emergency services response.

The map coming out will show the trail system and the OHV club is interested in getting the signing done to avoid confusion as to which trails are open and which are closed. It was also reported that the RS-2477 roads all have numbers in place also.

The forest currently has numbers for all of their roads and they are considering a hyphen with their road number followed by the common name or number of the road.

The ATV group has also requested an ATV trail be allowed up Wagon Road Ridge. The ATV group has met with the forest service on the request. An information document has been prepared and Mesia Nyman from the forest service will make the final decision on this matter, but she indicated the document said a trail there would create high risk to the wildlife in the area and if that were the case she would recommend not creating a trail there.

Dickson Huntington, council member said the cattlemen would support not putting a trail there also. He said the cattlemen had received a letter from Wayne Luddington from the BLM concerning spring use on the BLM allotments. This will be determined on an allotment by allotment basis. Huntington said the BLM has been very reasonable in the past.

Vernell Rowley from the Heritage subcommittee said the planks recently installed at the Swinging Bridge are holding up well and not splitting. They also toured the work completed at the Wedge and reported the road was in excellent shape and the day use areas were spotless.

The Spanish Trail convention is still scheduled for June 3 in Green River. The Spanish Trail was marked in 1994 and now the markers are almost all gone.

Huntington reported he had driven through the Buckhorn country and Fullers bottom and the country is healing nicely from ATV damage and he commended those responsible.

"It has been a cooperative effort between agencies, ATV groups, individuals and SUWA. The OHV groups have been very supportive and Deputy Jeffs has really contributed. It has been a community effort," said Floyd Johnson from the BLM.

Huntington said, "It's working."

Council chairman Bruce Wilson reported the BLM is having two scoping meetings to gather comments on oilshale and tar sands development. These resources are scattered throughout the Swell with some in Kane Wash, Coal Wash and beneath Temple Mountain. Johnson said the BLM has a map prepared identifying mineral potential. There is a larger band of potential in the Tavaputs Plateau region.

Clyde Magnuson, council member, was concerned about the forest service obtaining a portion of a water right to satisfy demands from the state water engineer concerning the wildlife guzzlers installed last spring near SUFCO mine.

Magnuson said the irrigation company could give the water, but still own it. He feels it is a bad precedent to set to sell water shares to the forest service.

Commissioner Hatch said he doesn't think they should be requiring the forest service to secure a water share anyway as the forest service has prior rights for watering of wildlife and stock. They have previously requested this use of water.

Nyman said the forest service is being, "required" to obtain this water right.

Ward reported the Huntington/Cleveland irrigation had settled with the DWR concerning beaver control. The DWR will provide some funds to go toward beaver control.

The forest service roads and trails analysis will be ready for review next month and Nyman will present it to the council at that time. The Muddy Roads and Trails analysis was completed last year and the forest service has a proposal to make some changes to the forest service travel plan, but the NEPA process for the Muddy Roads and Trails analysis was not funded so Nyman will be working on that with specialists reviewing her work.

The analysis of the Gentry allotment will also begin this year with work expected to take longer than a year.

Some 2006 forest service projects include: thinning of pinyon and juniper at Black Dragon, reducing fuels on the south end of Joe's Valley through the Kitchen down to the south end of Cat. "It's easier to remove the trees when they are younger and they are mostly hand cut," said Nyman.

The Jungle burn will take place mid-year which will reduce conifer/aspen. A fuels reduction will take place around Ferron Reservoir as well as pile burning.

The South Manti timber sale is still in court, but the forest service is ready to move on that as soon as it's settled.

Energy West is planning 11 helicopter drills searching for coal. These types of drills only take a few days and have minimal effects on the forest. The Rilda project is a go for the new facility for Deer Creek Mine.

NEPA will be done on the paving to Reeder Subdivision.

The forest service has received funding for boat access at Huntington Reservoir. The forest service will be meeting with partners to see what type of access is best and to determine a location for the boat access. Toilets will also be installed at the Seely guard station and at the new horse camping sites at Potter's Pond.

Nyman explained the forest plan is nearing 15 years old and the forest plan revision will give guidance on the forest. The old plan set outputs and the new plan will center more on general guidance. It may not have management indicator species.

Commissioner Hatch reported he had heard by word of mouth that DOGM had signed off on the Rilda project. The county will be moving ahead on the road and they have a cooperative agreement with the coal company on road upgrades.

Bryan Torgerson from SITLA reported there are two pending applications for wells in Drunkards Wash by XTO which they expect will be approved. On March 24 will be the spring SITLA land sale in St. George, there is a piece of land by Ruby Ranch and a couple of pieces in Grand County, St. George and Circleville which will be up for sale.

Tory Killian, council member, said she was concerned about the contentious nature of some of the lands council meetings and suggested Roberts Rules of order be implemented. Commissioner Hatch said all members need to be courteous to one another, but they do not want to suppress opinions which is what the council is all about. Commissioner Gary Kofford said it is up to the chairman of the council if someone is out of order, the chairman should shut them down. He suggested the chairman review the rules of order to be aware of what you can and cannot do.

Council chairman Wilson said he thinks the council does a good job of discussing issues. People should allow others to finish their comments and not interupt so everyone can be heard and to keep things in order.

Ward said he thought disagreement was good and hearing from others with differing view points was an opportunity to learn.

Commissioner Hatch said his concern was with personal attacks and said there was not a place for that on the council. Wilson said the council is the place to get issues out and discuss them.

Magnuson said if you want cooperation among council members it is a good idea to alert them to an issue which will be presented during the meeting and let them know about something ahead of time.

Torgerson said he works with several counties and has found the public lands council to be the most structured and well behaved of any meetings he attends.

Derris Jones from the DWR also expressed his appreciation to the council and the ease with which they work with the DWR.

The next council meeting will be Feb. 14 at 10 a.m.

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