At the May public lands council meeting those visiting Washington DC gave an update on their trip. Ray Petersen, public lands director said the purpose of the trip was to discuss the Emery County public land use bill and meet with the Washington delegation.
Former Senator Bennett was there and he accompanied the Emery County visitors to meet with David Hays the deputy secretary of the interior.
Randy Johnson is a public lands consultant for Emery County and he said the purpose of the trip was two fold, to let the delegation know of the land use process Emery County has been involved with and to let them know the county is in the process of due diligence in complying with what the state of Utah has required in recent legislation.
Petersen and others are currently working on the report for the state legislature and expect to have it complete in early June so the legislature can get Emery County on the agenda during the summer. The report will hopefully be heard in a interim committee meeting by late summer.
Johnson said the Ivory bill doesn't affect Emery County and the process that Emery County has been through will hold regardless of whether the lands are federally or state managed. "That bill could be years in the works," said Johnson. "Our intent is to move forward."
Johnson indicated if it comes down to it and the state legislature doesn't give the stamp of approval to the Emery County bill, the county will say OK and move forward anyway.
Sen. Mike Lee was supportive and the other delegation members understood the process Emery County is involved with in trying to move the Emery County public land use bill forward. In the meeting with Hays, the county spokespeople voiced their support of county by county land use bills that are locally driven.
The county officials were instructed to do their best to have something ready that can be introduced by later this year. If the county stands ready and a chance opens then the county can introduce their bill when the timing is right.
Johnson said they were all encouraged by the Washington trip. They also discussed the SITLA lands and possible trade out lands. There were verbal agreements made that no one wants to see those lands tied up and the BLM director Bob Abbey was in that meeting and agreed to step up and help with trade out lands.
"We sensed strong support for what Emery County is doing. We didn't meet with Rep. Jim Matheson, but we did meet with his staff. These were Emery County exclusive meetings and we felt successful. We were pleasantly surprised. Sen. Lee agreed to help make phone calls to the Utah legislators to help move the bill through the Utah legislature," said Johnson.
The Emery County officials also met with public lands staff members from each of the Washington delegation's offices.
A special session could be called for the Utah Legislature to move the Emery County bill.
The goal is for the bill to be ready for the next US Congress. Johnson didn't feel like bills are moving anywhere in the Senate at this time.
Emery County's representative in Washington will become Jason Chaffetz when the redistricting takes affect. Rep. Matheson will remain a co-sponsor on Emery County's bill from the fourth congressional district.
Johnson said everyone spoke favorably of the bill and how Emery County has contacted everyone with a stake in the lands of the county in developing the bill. The Washington people were impressed with that approach.
Lands council member Sherrel Ward wondered if anyone had mentioned National Monument back in Washington. Johnson said everyone avoided mentioning that word. They like the well-balanced approach Emery County is taking and would like to see something like this bill move forward.