Dan Richards and Eugene Swalberg review the Emery County Public Land use bill with public land director Ray Petersen.
The Emery County Public Lands Council hosted four public information meetings to allow interested citizens to comment on the Emery County Land Use Bill.
Meetings were conducted in Huntington, Castle Dale, Ferron and Green River. Public lands director Ray Petersen along with public lands council members attended the meetings to answer any questions and concerns from the public.
The meetings weren't heavily attended, but according to Petersen those attending mainly voiced their support of the bill. At the Huntington meeting Rainer Huck, ATV enthusiast expressed his sentiment that the county shouldn't offer up any wilderness without receiving something in return. He said he is opposed to wilderness.
Petersen said the lands council will accept comments on the public land use bill until Aug. 1. He asked the public to ask themselves the question, "If the land use bill was implemented tomorrow, how would it affect you. Positively, negatively or not at all and to build your comments around that question."
The lands council had numerous maps spread out for the public to look at and the boundaries were outlined. The bill includes wilderness designation for the wilderness study areas now in place with boundary perfections. The map included National Conservation areas which are areas afforded more protection and these will be governed by an advisory council made up of county citizens and agency personnel as well as county government.
The area surrounding Goblin Valley state park is included in the NCA. Park officials believe this will have a positive impact and will help enhance the recreational qualities around Goblin Valley and in particular the Wild Horse Mesa area.
It was also mentioned that areas in the San Rafael which include loops for OHV travel makes sense. One area of concern mentioned by grazers is the question of what will happen with the School and Institutional Trustlands within the wilderness and NCA areas. Some of the grazers hold SITLA permits which are good for 10 year increments. SITLA has been working on identifying areas where these blocks of SITLA lands could be traded for. SITLA looks for exchange lands which are of comparable value to the land being traded out. The issue of the trade out lands is very important to the grazers because this is their livelihood in being able to graze on public lands.
Sen. Mike Lee has requested that Emery County take the land use bill before the state legislature for their approval before it is submitted to Washington. The county started this process with the state in June when they met with the Natural Resources Committee. A quorum wasn't present at that meeting so no decisions were made by the committee regarding the land use bill. There were both positive and negative statements about the process Emery County has embarked on by the committee members. Rep. Christine Watkins spoke in favor of the land use bill Emery County would like to present to Congress at the soonest possible time. Emery County officials will again meet with the Natural Resources Committee in the near future to present information about the land use bill and move forward with the state approval process.