In the Emery County Economic Development meeting for February, the committee was updated on the diversion dam for the water users along the Green River. Money has been secured to conduct a feasibility study on the diversion dam. The study will determine if the dam should be updated or replaced and what the cost will be. This study is estimated to take up to a year. There is an active committee that meets regularly to keep plans moving along on this project. It is hoped the requests for proposal for the engineering study will be advertised soon.
Economic Development Director Mike McCandless reported an extreme mountain bike competition is looking for a place to locate their event. They like soft dirt and big jumps. They prefer to locate their event on SITLA or private land if possible as they don't like dealing with all the Bureau of Land Management regulations for permitting. They typically need 20-30 acres for their events. McCandless said one spot they are looking at is along the route from Huntington to Desbee Dove Road along the hillside. They are looking for spots with at least 500 feet of drop and McCandless said he has identified some potential areas with nearly 800 feet of fall. Although the event is looking at many locations in the Western states, Emery County is interested because the event could draw as many as 1,000 to 1,500 people here. They will continue to look at sites and the event organizer has plans to visit the county next month to take a look at what Emery County has to offer.
McCandless said he is helping with the development of a new OHV trail map along with the State parks and the Emery County Travel Bureau. This map will be complete in the next couple of months. On June 28, the sheriff's posse also has plans for a triathlon. The third week of September will be a marathon on the Buckhorn.
Millsite State Park will be sponsoring a fishing tourney like they did last year, with bigger and better prizes. "The state parks in Emery and Carbon counties have had some of their best years. Visitors continued to go to Huntington, even though it didn't have water last year. Green River State Park also did well. Goblin Valley has a beautiful new Visitor Center which is now complete and the county is participating in developing the information panels at the center. McCandless also reported the Transient Room Tax for the county has gone up from previous years, this increase is also attributed to an increase in visitors to the area as well as an increase in the tax rate. It's estimated TRT revenues increased $50,000 over previous years. Economic Development projects around the Green River area continue to move, but aren't finalized yet. Two of the projects are mineral processing facilities. In addition, uranium mining activity is still active and the White Mesa mill near Blanding is running again. A number of companies have drilled test wells in the San Rafael for uranium. Utah uranium isn't as high in concentration as that found in Canada. But, in Utah the uranium can be mined year round and is much easier to mine. Tests from drilling activity in December indicated uranium to be spotty in those areas. A uranium company recently bought the town of Ticaboo and a number of workers are working there at the uranium processing plant.
The copper mine in San Juan County is reported to be closing down, there is good copper there, but so much dirt has to be moved to get to it, it just isn't profitable," said McCandless.
McCandless said they are watching HB51, a very controversial water bill at the legislature. This bill is pitting agricultural interests against the cities and towns. The bill will answer the question if cities and towns have the right to stockpile water for future growth. HB37 deals with a business resource centers act which could pool resources of an economic center which could strengthen rural economies. But, the current legislation for the centers only has enough funding to place the centers along the Wasatch Front. The governor didn't include this bill with his preferred bills, so it might not go anywhere. There is also a bill for infrastructure funds which could help fund rural infrastructure but there isn't a lot of support for this bill.
The Economic Development Education committee is planning the summer camps again this year and camps could include the theatre, forensics camp, paleontology, archaeology, dino day camp and others. Interested students should call the economic development office at 381-5576 to sign up.