Committee continues discussion over future of Huntington North
The Huntington North Reservoir Management Planning Committee held their sixth planning meeting on July 16 at the Huntington North Reservoir. It was noted at the top of the meeting that Ron Taylor's position of park manager for Millsite, Huntington North and Scofield has been filled by Dan Richards who currently is at Escalante-Kodachrome. They will be moving into Castle Dale and renting Taylor's home. He is excited to be coming to Emery County and has a son who wants to play football here. Richards will assume the position on Aug, 6.
Chris Sands conducted the meeting. He said the draft document has not been reviewed yet by reclamation but as soon as that happens all committee members will be sent a copy. The second phase of the project will be the development of alternatives and an environmental assessment of the range of alternatives. In the phase one document the issues, goals and objectives will be compiled under one document. This document will also be supplemented with data from the ongoing survey at the state park. This survey of the park visitors asks their opinions on the park and any possible improvements they would like to see implemented.
Sands displayed the maps of the park with the different areas outlined. He described the recreation suitability mapping analysis which will be used to help develop an alternative. Other factors which will all be worked into the alternative will deal with which recreational opportunities to develop. Ideas to be considered are increasing day use facilities and a group use day area. Sands discussed the big need for a group overnight area which could be reserved for a large group and would also include a picnic pavilion.
Tim Smith from state parks said a group site is needed to give campers the chance to be away from other campers in an area more secluded. The possibility of developing such an area in the large area which is sometimes used for parking near Highway 10 was discussed.
Sands explained because the bureau of reclamation has a lot of different parks, the resource management plans all have standard land use categories to maintain consistency in land use.
Peter Crookston from the bureau of reclamation said the document should include a range of alternatives for consideration. These alternatives will be tweaked to combine to form a preferred alternative that will cover a range of options.
Sands commented that the alternatives will address issues and will not necessarily make everyone happy, but the objective is to provide a range of reasonable alternatives.
Jay Mark Humphrey from the water conservancy district expressed his disagreement with any dispersed overnight areas in the management area. He said there was not enough area to handle that situation.
Public access on the established trail was also discussed with the water district having the authority to shut down any points as needed for their purposes. The management area has been broken down into categories which include the primary jurisdiction area, southwest cove area, inlet area, state parks area with developed day and overnight use. The current land use management plan reflects the way the project is being managed today.
Two alternatives will reflect a different emphasis with Alternative A having a focus on protecting fish and wildlife and Alternative B including a focus on recreational development in addition to fish and wildlife.
The possibility of developing parking areas to allow more access to the trails was discussed as well as where they should be located. These areas would improve access for anglers and those using the no fee area. Richard Snowball from the Huntington/Cleveland irrigation company said they don't want anyone in an area where the measuring and monitoring equipment as well as some pumps belonging to Utah Power are located.
The possibility of a dike to allow access when the reservoir is full was discussed. This area of the reservoir is now passable because of the low water but when the reservoir is full the water goes right up to the fence. The question of the people using the trail system which would loop around through the state park was discussed. Larry Johansen who works at the park said they do not have a problem with the people walking through the park on the trail system and they could do so without a fee being assessed.
The question of whether or not a dike being constructed would result in water capacity loss was discussed. They thought the amount of water lost would be minimal, but Dennis Ward from the Huntington/Cleveland irrigation company suggested a foot bridge instead of a dike to avoid any water storage loss. It was pointed out that any water going over the spillway is lost water in the spring. Another possible advantage of having a dike would help prevent high water from eroding the road.
Alternative C looks to expand recreational opportunities, new boating, camping, picnic facilities and also improvements to improve or protect the environmental quality of the park. Possible developed day use enhancement in the southwest cove area which could include a restroom and other improvements. Humphrey pointed out the need for an official management presence in the cove area for any development to take place there.
Other options would include an upgrade of the park's watering system. As the reservoir drains down the state park is left high and dry. An upgrade would improve intake and make the irrigation system more effective.
The issue of boat capacity was discussed briefly, it was pointed out that different reservoirs have different requirements according to the size of their facility. At Huntington North a 25 boat limit is currently observed. One boat per 10 surface acres of water.
Snowball discussed the bass enhancement project which was proposed for the southwest cove area. He expressed concern over the possible creation of bass habitat which could entangle an unsuspecting swimmer in the cove. Sands said that specific details of specific issues will be dealt with after the resource management process. He described the process as setting goals and objectives.
Sands described what would take place next in the planning process. He said they would take the preliminary alternatives to the public. A public open house will be scheduled for sometime in September to seek opinions from the public. Sands said this is done to see if they've missed something. He also said there will be no preferred alternative before it is taken to the public. After the public workshop a preferred alternative will be developed and the final mixing and matching will be done by reclamation.
The system of categorical approval was discussed, if projects within the management area meet this criteria then the projects could go ahead without an environmental assessment. At this point it is too early to say if possible projects would qualify or not. Reclamation has gone through the NEPA process for minor construction projects which have a check list for this categorical exclusion. If reclamation didn't have that list they would be slowed way down in the work they could do, plus expenses would increase. Jamie Dalton from parks and recreation said they do approximately 70 projects per year that don't have to have an environmental assessment.
It was pointed out that mixing and exchanging ideas from each of the alternatives is possible to come up with the preferred alternative. The committee will announce the time and place of the public workshop in the near future.