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Front Page » September 24, 2002 » Local News » Horse Canyon Mine study underway
Published 5,267 days ago

Horse Canyon Mine study underway

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Jack Hamilton, Gene Carr and David Patton from the University of Utah survey Horse Canyon along with Marlin Eldred from the Emery County Economic Development Council and Deb Dull from Utah Power.

The University of Utah approved a proposal for a Center for Mine Land Redevelopment in the year 2000. Since this time the directors for the center have been exploring areas in the state where mining and other extractive industries have slowed or discontinued production to the detriment of the local economy.

The center was made aware of the Horse Canyon Mine buildings which are located in Emery County. Co-directors Gene Carr and Jack Hamilton have made many site visits to the mine and have big plans for the redevelopment of Horse Canyon. Carr said, "This coal mine was operated for years by Geneva Steel, and most recently by UtahAmerican Energy, Inc. The mine is now permanently closed and UtahAmerican is in the process of permitting a new mine which is southeast of Horse Canyon called the Lila Canyon Mine.

"There are four principal buildings remaining on the mine property. There is a large warehouse, metal shop, bathhouse and an office building. The brick buildings were constructed in 1941 as the mine was being prepared to supply coal to the new Geneva Steel Plant in Provo. The buildings have been abandoned since the early 1980s. No utilities are currently available on the site. In the development of the Lila Canyon Mine, UtahAmerican will provide utilities to the new mine site near here and we hope to bring utilities back to the site for little or no cost. We will approach Utah Power and see if they would like to donate to the project.

"A water tank is located about a mile up the canyon from the buildings. UtahAmerican must remove or otherwise deal with the abandoned buildings in order to complete its obligations for reclamation on the property and obtain release of its reclamation bond.

"Horse Canyon is a beautiful canyon in the spectacular Book Cliffs. We feel that any redevelopment should take advantage of the fantastic natural setting of this site and its access to the upper Book Cliffs area and Bureau of Land Management lands beyond. The principal idea being explored is the possibility of establishing a field research camp for Utah universities at the site. The concept envisions a camp that would be a place where students and researchers could locate while studying a variety of subjects, such as geology, ecology, botany, biology, paleontology, art, psychology and the list of possibilities is endless," said Carr.

Hamilton said that the professors of the sciences from the College of Eastern Utah have visited the site and are very interested. "Don Burge from the CEU Prehistoric museum said the shop building was a perfect place for bones and dinosaur reconstruction. Bones could be cast there and shipped to museums all over the world. The building is big enough it could house brontosaurus bones. The archaeology in this area is fabulous, we could have a paleontological and rock lab. The Wilcox ranch is also in the area and will eventually go into state ownership the resources there could also benefit our center.

"We envision retreats and a facility where meetings could be held concerning these areas of study. Writers and artists could also use the facilities and create their work here. People from other countries could visit and research here. We want to attract not only local interest with the universities and colleges within our state, but national and international facilities as well. People visit our regions all of the time to do research and we would like to direct them here. A professor of geology from the University of Missouri has expressed interest in the use of a facility like this for their summer geology camp. They currently base their camp in Cedar City and make excursions to this area to study structure and stratigraphy and visit several of the local coal mines. This is a typical excursion for many of the universities in the East and the Midwest sections of our country.

The warehouse and shop facility at Horse Canyon.

"We see a facility of this type as being a boost for the local economy. We see rustic facilities on site that blend in harmony with the setting. Fifty people at a time on site would probably be the capacity. We also see an outdoor amphitheater where education could take place and perhaps cultural events. The center could also be used by local mine and gas companies as a training center. I could see myself in my retirement here teaching geology workshops. It's such a beautiful place. It is within an easy drive of Moab, Canyonlands, Arches, Capitol Reef, the San Rafael Swell, dinosaur quarries and other world class archeological, geological and paleontological resources. The wealth and diversity of natural objects to study is endless.

"A possible custodian of the facility would be CEU because of its proximity to the site and its outstanding and well developed science programs. This facility would be an asset for CEU and a draw for students interested in science programs. Dr. Michael King, Dean of Sciences at CEU indicated the concept is an excellent one and CEU is interested in participating.

"In order for these dreams to become reality a number of steps have to be taken. The current buildings will have to be renovated or rebuilt. Needed utilities would have to be installed. UtahAmerican has offered to donate 900 acres including the buildings to the universities in the state of Utah. This donation and subsequent tax credit would help UtahAmerican, they will also be able to reclaim their reclamation bond on the property.

"The next step in the process is the feasibility study which is underway at this time. The federal economic development agency has granted $65,000 for the study. This is 80 percent and the 20 percent local share has come from Carbon and Emery counties as well as local mining companies, universities and Kennecott. CEU is also donating in kind service. Students from the U of U will be helping with this study. Seven graduate students along with an advisor and faculty member toured the facility and gathered information. An architectural student also surveyed the buildings and will make recommendations concerning their condition. The business team will take a look at all of the possibilities and explore the concepts for creating a self-sustaining center. A cost estimate for the completed project will also be developed. The study will be completed by Aug. 1, 2003.

"We hope this project will serve as a model for future mine land redevelopment. There are also sites in Park City and Ophir which we are looking at. As our center grows we hope to be able to take these sites and show people what can be done to restore and renovate them to be an economic boost to local communities," said Hamilton.

David Patton, also from the U of U and the director of the center of public policy and administration said, "We haven't explored all the possibilities for funding for the project, but the EDA has expressed interest and the National Science Foundation; we will also look to the legislature for funding. We have a lot of support from local legislator Brad King and State Senator Mike Dmitrich. U of U will continue to support the project and Utah State University is also interested. We feel this is a win/win situation for everyone, UtahAmerican will satisfy its obligations, the local economies will see a boost and the state of Utah will acquire a valuable and ongoing asset in a field camp facility that could eventually grow to become the finest facility of its kind in the country," said Patton.

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