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Front Page » September 14, 2010 » Emery County News » Public lands discuss mining and water loss
Published 2,357 days ago

Public lands discuss mining and water loss

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In the August public lands council meeting several topics were discussed. A SUFCO mine environmental engineer, Leland Roberts came before the council. He was concerned about opinions voiced in the July public lands meeting which mentioned that mining activity had dried up a spring. Currently SUFCO is mining in the five left panel. In the future they will move more to the south and west toward the main mine portal. He stated he wasn't sure where the comments came from on the mine drying up a spring, but he would like to find out more and answer any questions.

Gary Petty, lands council member said he has made comments. In the Fish Lake area they have had a spring dry up. In the past SUFCO has hauled water for livestock, but this year the mine didn't haul water. "The springs dried up on the side where mining occurred, they are dry now and they weren't dry before," said Petty. He commented mining a mile away can still dry up a spring.

The comment was made that the springs are different from one side of the mountain to the other.

Petty stated the mining company has been very supportive in the past, but this year they refused to haul water. Roberts said they weren't contacted to haul water this year. Petty commented they were contacted.

The North Water was dried up and work there didn't succeed in bringing back the spring. A pipeline project is still being considered to bring water into there from a different area. Water has been hauled in there in the past.

Petty said, "We appreciate what you've done, but our cows have gone without water."

Roberts said, "Well, it's not due to mining."

Petty said, "That's debatable. The good neighbor policy is to haul water."

Lands council member, Mistie Christiansen said water replacement is in the Emery County general plan. The plan is in place to prevent these things from happening. "We don't want to wait until it becomes a critical issue, when it affects the town's (Emery) water supply," said Christiansen.

Petty said he has participated in field trips with DOGM to look at the springs which have dried up. It's hard to find proof for what has happened. DOGM cannot do anything without proof.

The problems with North Springs have been ongoing the past few years. Sherrel Ward, lands council member wondered how to make sure the water gets replaced.

Roberts reported they have hauled water and placed troughs there.

Marc Stilson from the Division of Water Resources reported their part in the pipeline to replace water is done. Darren Olsen said the project is in the process of being permitted by the US Forest Service. This pipeline will help replace water to that area.

The Division of Wildlife Resources has begun work on a project to reintroduce Colorado cutthroat trout to the Ferron drainage. Kash Winn, rancher expressed his appreciation to the DWR for meeting with the water users and addressing their concerns with the project. The Ferron Canal Company has been concerned about the effect of the reintroduction on future downstream water projects. Winn requested they be kept informed and involved as the process moves along. They don't like the project but will tolerate it. They are concerned about endangered fish, but they are also concerned about rural agriculture. Winn said they have a lot of confidence in working with the state, but not a lot of faith in federal agencies.

Ward asked Winn if it was correct in saying the local cattlemen and water users will support the project to prevent listing of the Colorado cutthroat on the endangered species list. Winn said that was accurate as long as the interests of the cattlemen and water users are considered.

Paul Birdsey is the aquatics manager involved with the cutthroat project. He said an advisory council has been formed and they have held one meeting. He asked for a representative from the cattlemen, irrigation and sportsmen to sit on the advisory council. He said one question being addressed is the location of the barrier check dam. Winn requested it be placed at the narrows or above so it would not affect future sediment projects. Birdsey said it is not the intent of the project to change fishing at Millsite in any way only to make it better. A barrier is needed to prevent fish movement from Millsite upstream.

The bluehead sucker spawns upstream out of Millsite, but it isn't known how far up they go. The DWR will be tagging fish and a reader has been installed to detect their movement. When the flooding came down Ferron Creek, it blew out the reader and it has collected almost no data. After accurate data is collected a site for the barrier will be recommended. The DWR is trying to get data to see how much stream the bluehead sucker needs to reproduce.

Winn said people are worried about the family fishing on the Ferron and what the reintroduction of the Colorado cutthroat will do in that regard. Birdsey said Ferron Reservoir and Wrigley will be stocked with sterile fish. Those reservoirs won't need to be treated and closed. Bait fishing will still be allowed. Maybe sections of the stream will be artificial lure only. Some areas of the stream are inaccessible anyway and these areas will provide refuge for the Colorado cutthroat as they establish. Birdsey wanted it known if the Colorado cutthroat are listed the DWR will not be in charge anymore. He did say however there is a provision under the endangered specie act where real property owners can enter into an agreement with the Fish and Wildlife Service that says enough has been done to preserve the fish and we don't want anything to change here. This is an agreement water users can enter into. It does not include grazers because grazing rights aren't considered real property.

In the Bureau of Land Management update, Karl Ivory said the new Utah BLM director is Juan Palma. He graduated from BYU and has sons at BYU and Utah State. He likes Utah. He is a former field manager in Las Vegas. He coming to Utah from serving as the Eastern States Field Director. Palma plans to visit the Emery County area on Sept. 20 for a visit. Ivory said there may be some changes in store under Palma's direction. He likes documentation. On the West Tavaputs, EIS the 30 day comment period will end on Aug. 31. Ivory reported the leaf beetle has been busy eating tamarisk. With the defoliation of the tamarisk and their demise it will make room for native vegetation.

Mark H Williams, lands council member asked about the restrooms for Justensen Flat. Ivory said they are still in the works and he doesn't know when the project will be done. The money is available for the restrooms.

The final comments on the Information Center at Buckhorn Flat are coming in. It is expected to be complete in April 2011. Winn asked Ivory if they will do burning to remove the tamarisk after it dies. Ivory said they are using some burning. They are reseeding areas to re-establish species, but it is expensive and labor extensive.

Birdsey said the project they are involved with the tamarisk, clears 1,000 acres and reseeds and will be a $500,000 project by the time it's done.

Stilson from water rights reported they have been on field trips above Lila Canyon mine and SUFCO.

The man from dam safety gave an update on Millers Flat. He said the berm stability work was done last year and they are looking for funding to complete the project. In dealing with high hazard dams that need updated and upgraded, Millers Flat is on that list. The State has been providing the money through water resources grants. If there is an immediate threat it can be dealt with immediately and not through grant money. Millers Flat is greatly improved, but not finished.

Christiansen asked what the process would be to get the old Henningston dam back. He recommended they hire a consultant. The problem with that dam was sink holes near the dam. Sink holes away from the dam aren't a problem. Have someone re-evaluate what needs to be done. It could be a very expensive process. You could also tear it out and redo he suggested.

April Abate from the coal program for DOGM said the discharge from the water in Crandall Creek has an elevated iron concentration. The mine has taken steps to lower those levels and has been in compliance since March. The abandoned uranium mines reclamation project is also ongoing.

Bryan Torgerson from SITLA said the Elmo dump site is being cleaned up and the sheriff's office has offered the help of the trustees to complete the clean-up. The sheriff's office will also monitor the site once it is clean to prevent further dumping. Torgerson said they are selling very little SITLA property now and the fall public auction probably won't be held.

Darren Olsen, ranger for the Ferron District said there have been a few lightning strikes and hotspots on the forest around Scofield and Lake Fork. Resurfacing work is being done on the Potters road and the Bacon Rind road. Olsen reported that work will take a month. The Lakes fuel timber sales will be advertised and up for bid on Sept. 1. The Reeder subdivision Road document was signed on July 28 and placed on the federal register for the 45 day appeal which will end mid-September after which that road can be paved.

Williams said the forest service needs to install restrooms for the boulder climbers that come to the Joe's Valley area. The area is advertised heavily, but there are no accommodations there for the boulderers.

Winn thanked Olsen for the forest service grant for the Dry Wash work in Ferron.

Williams said the state is trying to resolve the RS-2477 road issues and beginning with Iron County and it will affect Emery County at a later date.

Priscilla Burton, lands council member encouraged everyone to comment on the website of the Great Outdoors Initiative. Ray Petersen, public lands director attended the meeting in Salt Lake for the Great Outdoors Initiative hosted by Ken Salazar.

Val Payne, public lands consultant also urged everyone to comment on the website so the rural perspective can be heard.

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September 14, 2010
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