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Front Page » April 3, 2007 » Local News » News
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SITLA land in Emery County.

During the March meeting of the Emery County Public Lands Council, Bryan Torgerson from SITLA gave an informative presentation about the school trust lands organization and how it works. In the February meeting the council requested of Torgerson a more detailed report on how SITLA and the Division of Wildlife Resources have worked out the agreement to allow hunting on SITLA lands and the compensation for SITLA to allow this use.

Torgerson explained the SITLA organization. Trust lands were granted to Utah schools by the United States Congress in 1894 (two years prior to statehood) for the financial support of Utah's public schools. The lands were granted in a trust, with public schools as the primary beneficiary of the trust. They are not public lands. This fact is backed by Utah's Constitution, state law, and 200 years of case-law. Utah law states that the trust beneficiary "...does not include other governmental institutions or agencies, the public at large, or the general welfare of the state."

In 1994, following a two year legislative task force and a one year citizen task force, the legislature reorganized the administration of trust lands and clarified its mandate to be operated similarly to a business. Because it is run as a business, no general fund dollars are used for the management of trust lands. SITLA is required by law to receive fair market value for the use of trust lands, especially where commercial opportunities present themselves. This includes commercialized hunting opportunities that are clearly out there and in strong demand.

In 1997, SITLA entered into an agreement (a memorandum of understanding) with DWR. Essentially, the agreement provides that most of the 3.4 million acres of trust lands are open for public hunting. This access for unencumbered (non-leased) trust lands was granted in return for an annual payment of $200,000. It was recognized that the $200,000 was below market value at that time and that both agencies would also pursue additional general fund appropriations from the legislature for access to trust lands by the general public (this never occurred). Moreover, this agreement precluded the use of trust lands by Cooperative Wildlife Management Units for its 10 year term. The agreement expires in 2007.

SITLA recently hired independent hunting consultants to determine the potential value of hunting access on trust lands. The appraisal identifies almost 1 million acres of trust land that could be commercialized and leased to outfitters and adjoining landowners for marketing hunter access.

SITLA has data that provides substantial reason to believe that the prime hunting areas on trust lands could be leased for much more than the $250,000 current annual payment for hunting access. SITLA would prefer to keep these lands open for public access to hunters if a way to provide fair values to the schools can be found.

For the past three years, SITLA has engaged DWR in discussions to formulate a new agreement that more accurately reflects current fair value for hunter access to trust lands.

Most importantly, SITLA prefers to keep school lands open to the public for hunting. But consistent with its mandate, it must receive a fair return in order to preserve that option on its commercially marketable lands.

In February 2007, SITLA and the DWR entered into another 10 year memorandum of understanding. The MOU terms allow public access to trust lands for hunting, trapping, fishing, and viewing of wildlife; prohibits participation in any Cooperative Wildlife Management Unit or big game landowner association on trust lands; SITLA cannot convey to another party any hunting, trapping, fishing or wildlife viewing rights on any trust lands; prohibits the establishment of a domestic elk hunting park or other facility for hunting of privately owned big game animals on trust lands; DWR shall pay the trust land account a base amount of $500,000 for a one-year term, commencing Sept. 1, 2007. Thereafter, annual payments shall be made on or before the end of the first fiscal quarter of each year, and to bring the annual payment closer to the fair market value it will be adjusted annually by compounding the yearly payment by 5 percent

The trustland's ability to generate revenues from various sources is very important for the amount of dividends that can be paid. The trust land dividend to Utah's schools must not be underrated. The amount of that dividend has increased dramatically in just a few short years. The direct distributions began in 2000. That year the distribution was $4.9 million. This school year (2006-2007) the distribution increased to more than $18 million. The amount of money distributed is nowhere near the total annual revenues generated from trust lands. It is the amount of money generated from interest and dividends on the Permanent State School Fund and is limited by current state law.

Torgerson said the goal of SITLA is to get the trustfund to $1 billion in the next few years. After this goal is reached the payout to schools will increase. Currently interest is also going back into the fund to achieve the $1 billion goal as soon as possible.

Torgerson said the agreement with the DWR will benefit all involved. The school trustlands monies are allocated to each school in Utah on a percentage basis. The school trustlands committee meets and decides where the trustlands money will be spent. Emery County schools have spent their money on a variety of programs since the year 2000, the money has increased each year. Money can be spent on books, computer programs, technology, science, math, reading, etc. There are stipulations to what can be purchased. It cannot be used to purchase equipment such as desks, curtains for the stage, and other like items. After the trustlands committee select where the money will go, they fill out and submit the plan to the school board for their approval, after their approval the plan is forwarded to the state office of education afterwhich the money will be sent to the district and then to the individual schools.

Torgerson said that SITLA is largely misunderstood. In Utah, some trustlands are put up for sale, if it is an advantage to do so. But, he said at the rate they sell their land it would take 300 years to sell all the SITLA land and that is not the plan. SITLA is more land rich than money rich. The $1 billion goal is a benchmark which has been set by the legislature. The permanent fund keeps increasing and just the interest from this is spent. The fund itself isn't touched.

The public lands council thanked Torgerson for his presentation on SITLA. The next public lands council meeting is slated for April 10 at 10 a.m.

Charley Jenkins sings for the crowd at the Emery County Fair concert 2006.

"Born country?" Exactly. Charley Jenkins has country roots that run deep. He was raised on a farm in Eastern Utah where he learned how to rope, ride and work hard. Plowing, planting and harvesting were all part of his life that makes him who he is. Life on the Jenkins farm revolved around cows, horses and of course this inevitably led to rodeos. Country music is all about a real cowboy's life like Charley's.

Charley has a busy schedule for 2007 and is currently working on a new CD. He will also spend spring and summer of 2007 opening for top entertainers, Collin Raye and Sawyer Brown. Charley will also perform at the Utah State Rodeo Finals in Heber City in June, at Junction, and in Ogden. He will roll into Emery County for his encore highly requested performance on Aug. 4 where he and his band Haywire will open for Ricochet performing live at the free fair concert.

His love for country music has been a life-long passion. "Country is who and what I am. It is only natural for me to sing the songs that I love and relate to." Charley's first album, Greatest Hours, was written and produced by Charley with the help of his friend, Jordan Allen. With the success of this album and some personal advice from George Strait, Charley decided to push his career to a new level.

In the summer of 2001 Charley loaded up his truck with everything he owned and headed off to Nashville, Tenn. It didn't take him long to get his foot in the door in the country music industry. Charley was hired to work for a Music Row publishing company where he personally represented the writers. It was here that Charley learned the "ins and outs" of the country business. He became personal friends with Tony Martin, Mark Nesler, and a number of Nashville "greats."

While in Nashville, Charley rolled up his sleeves and applied perhaps the most important skill he had gained from a childhood on the farm: the ability to work long and hard. He performed on Nashville Star and became good friends with Miranda Lambert. He also played and sang at writer's shows and bars on the famous Broadway Street in downtown Nashville. He sang at the Wild Horse Salon and with Tim McGraw's band.

Over the past two years Charley has been writing and gathering songs for the album, Round Here. He wanted this album to show who he is and what his music is all about. The title Round Here is so fitting. Charley is proud of where he is from and the people who have influenced his life. It was this love that brought Charley back home in the summer of 2004 to help with the farm and to be with his family and his father who was battling cancer. "Coming home was an easy decision for me, and I will never regret it." The Round Here album is a tribute to his father and he personally wrote the song "Hero At Home" for him.

Top Nashville writer, Tony Martin who has written 11 number one songs such as "Third Rock from the Sun", "Just To See You Smile", "Living and Living Well", and "Settle for a Slowdown" said this about Charley's album. "I love Charley's album, but it upset me that the song I love the most, As Long As I'm With You, is one I didn't write - Charley did."

In the past year, Charley's career has been gaining steady momentum as he has opened for many top 20 country headliners including LeAnn Rimes, Little Texas, Lonestar, and Josh Turner. Charley has sung country music for tens of thousands. He has an unusual ability to customize his show to fit the personality of any crowd. Dan Truman of "Diamond Rio" says this, "Charley Jenkins' album "'Round Here" truly reflects the person he is. It's great, it's real, and it's full of energy and passion." That's what Charley is all about.

Charley's band Haywire consists of Randy Barnes, Rusty Barnes, Randy Budd, Chris Carroll, Nikkie Tanner and Talia Elise Wilson.

Emery County you asked for it, so you got it, Charley will be back in town, Aug. 4 at 7:30 p.m. concert start time.

Pictured are the trespassers at Joe's Valley Dam.

A $1,000 reward will be offered for the arrest and conviction of those responsible for trespassing at the Joe's Valley Dam on the afternoon of March 18. Call the Detective Division of the Emery County Sheriff's ffice at 381-2404.

The US Forest Service update was given by Mesia Nyman, Ferron District Ranger at the March public lands council meeting. She encouraged everyone to buy an America the Beautiful pass from the Ferron Office. They are $80 or $10 if over age 62. This pass allows entrance into all the National Parks and BLM fee sites. On the forest it waives the $3 fee in some areas.

Nyman said the forest plan revision has been delayed but a draft plan should be ready by fall of 2007 and available for public review and a 90 day public comment period.

In December 2006 the forest service announced the completion of an environmental review of the new forest planning process. That process concluded that writing land management plans has no effect on the environment, qualifying plans for the categorical exclusion from individual study in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act.

This was a crucial step in revising the overall planning process. It is important to note that this action did not eliminate environmental studies.

Under the 2005 planning rule, full environmental analysis will continue at the project level where public involvement and the best available science can inform on the ground decision making.

The roadless area conservation rule has been reinstated by Judge Elizabeth D. LaPorte, US Magistrate Judge, US District court for the Northern District of California. This means the forest service cannot take any action contrary to the 2000 Roadless Rule without completing a National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) analysis.

Nyman said this ruling will not affect the Lake Project. The South Manti timber sale has been stalled in court again. With the new OHV rule, the forest can have full-sized trails. The early spring has caused the closure of a number of forest roads, they are gated and will remain so until the roads have dried out sufficiently to avoid damage.

In June or July road work will be done to repair the slump along the South Skyline.

Nyman reported there will be a lot of projects going on this summer. In the Black Dragon area 300-400 acres will have wildlife habitat improvements completed this summer with bobcats and chainsaws.

In the near future, Nyman said she will bring a powerpoint presentation for the lands council regarding the motor vehicle use map which will be due out in November this year. This new travel map for motorized travel on the Manti will roll the old travel plan into the new map with some changes.

Sherrel Ward questioned Nyman on the flow of water to be released on the Huntington Creek. She said the flow will increase to 12 cfs for a couple of weeks and then back to the 6 cfs.

Huntington Mayor Jackie Wilson instructed the city council about open and public meetings. "The state regulations say we must have this training session," stated Mayor Wilson.

She told the council the Utah State Legislature enacted the Open and Public Meeting Act for every state agency and political subdivision to follow in conducting the people's business. It is the intent of this law that their actions are taken openly and their deliberations are conducted openly.

The definition of an open and public meeting is the convening of a public body when a quorum is present and is intended to include all gatherings of the city council or other committees of a municipality. This includes anything that looks like the public's business if they are supported by public funds. It is important to remember that a quorum of the body must be present.

Meetings which constitute a closed or executive session are those that discuss an individual's private information, collective bargaining strategy sessions, litigation discussions, sessions that discuss purchase, exchange or lease of real property, or discussions regarding the deployment of security devices and investigative proceedings. Before a closed session may be called, the body must be called into an open meeting with at least two thirds of the membership present.

All open meetings must be recorded, in addition to keeping written minutes. Closed meetings must also be recorded and written minutes kept.

Public notice must be given before any open meeting that is held. Notice is considered at least a 24 hour notice with postings and publication in a newspaper in the jurisdiction of the public body. The agendas of the meetings are to be posted in advance of the meeting unless the meeting is an emergency meeting with unforeseen circumstances requiring that meeting.

In other business conducted by Huntington City Council, the line item donation to Emery County Community Theater was approved. Linda Daley of the ECCT was on hand with the request.

The council also reviewed the policy of cost to open a grave site at the cemetery. The current ordinance states that the cost for non-residents is $275 as opposed to $125 for residents. Many people who have been longtime residents of Huntington may have relocated to rest homes or to live with children and their wish is to be buried in Huntington at their passing. The council approved to reduce the cost of a grave opening for non-residents to $200. Mayor Wilson also explained that people who have lived in Huntington for most of their lives and are only out of the city due to reasons associated with age are still considered residents of Huntington.

Mayor Wilson updated the council concerning the anticipated water situation for this summer season. The area stands at 51 percent of normal and is losing 2 percent each day that there is no significant precipitation. "The water situation is very dire. The north end of the county will have secondary water sometime around April 15, and the south end will probably not be until near April 27. Everyone is very concerned about the water situation and restrictions will be put in place," said Mayor Wilson.

A mountain man rendezvous will be held for all boy scouts, varsity and venturing scouts at the Buckhorn rendezvous site. Come and join the fun on the Buckhorn.

There will be competitive shooting with Burt Oman as the range master. Shooting will be 22s, shot guns, and blackpowder guns for a combined score. There will be trophies for the top three in Boy Scouts (ages 11-13), and the top three Varsity/Venturing (ages 14-19) combined scores. Come on out and show your stuff and have some springtime fun. There will be lunch.

The Buckhorn rendezvous site is approximately 14 miles east of Castle Dale. The date is April 14 from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. All boys, ages 11-19 are welcome. Younger boys need to be accompanied by an adult. There will be no charge for this activity.

The Ferron American Legion Auxiliary #42 works year round to see that our soldiers are not forgotten. For many Emery County residents, they think that Operation Home Support only comes into action during the Christmas holidays. That idea is erroneous.

Jan Hess said, "We send the soldiers a box of supplies with a letter inside at most of the holidays throughout the year. That includes Valentines, Easter, Armed Forces Day, July 4th, Labor Day, Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas. We want them to know that we care and they are not forgotten."

The Operation Home Support program began three years ago and has been in action ever since. At the present time they are requesting that all Emery County residents who have a loved one serving in a war zone, such as Iraq and Afghanistan, contact them to get that name on the list to receive a package at the next holiday.

Contact Hess and 384-2753 or Dixie Swasey at 384-3172 to give the name and address of your loved one who is serving our country in a war zone. Don't let your soldier be forgotten. "We are continually looking for donations also," said Hess. She said they need funds for postage and to fill the boxes.

A hotline has been established for the residents of Emery County to report any suspected drug activity. Reports can be made anonymously. Call 381-2888 to report suspicious or suspected drug activity.

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