Emery County Commissioners met in commission meeting on Feb. 3. Derris Jones from the Division of Wildlife Resources expressed his appreciation to Emery County Sheriff Lamar Guymon for the support and assistance of the sheriff's office during the recent death of Officer Kip Draper from their division. Jones introduced Wade Paskett who is the new damage specialist for the division. He said the division has plans for the coal bed methane mitigation funds with projects in the Mohrland area for a pinion/juniper push to make more winter range for deer and elk. Plans are also being made to mow down a 500 acre previously chained region around Poison Springs Bench.
A wildfire last summer on the Wilcox acquisition will be reseeded. Part of the area is within a wilderness study area and will be seeded by flight, but part of the area will undergo mechanical treatment to bury the seed. The big horn sheep have been surveyed and the north San Rafael showed about the same numbers as two years ago, but the south dropped considerably and could be due to the drought or a new counter. The Manti has been over objective in elk numbers and is now closer to objective than two years ago. Total elk counted in the Manti herd was 6,990, which is down 1,259 animals from 2001. This area includes north Fish Lake, south Muddy, north Muddy/Ferron, South Horn, North Horn, Trail Mountain, East Mountain, Candland Mountain, Gentry Mountain, Gordon
Creek/Castle Valley, Spring Canyon, Price Canyon/Scofield, Starvation, Spanish Fork Canyon, and West Side.
Cattlemen and ranchers were also given a spot on the helicopter this year to observe the elk herd counting and Commissioner Ira Hatch expressed appreciation to Jones for working with the ranchers to make this happen.
Turkeys will be released in the San Juan and Henry Mountains reported Jones and the deer seem to be doing well through the winter and he hopes a good winter will help turn around the decline in the deer population. The DWR is going to take bids on a permanent trap at Duck Fork Reservoir for the Colorado Cutthroat trout and they hope that project will be complete by fall. Five thousand tiger trout will be placed in Duck Fork each year for anglers to catch, but the Colorado cutthroat are being raised there as a brood lake operation. The lake will be opened this year for the catch of the tiger trout which Jones pointed out will only be six-eight inch fish this year. Plans are also underway to make the lake handicap accessible.
The new low water boat ramp at Joes Valley has been approved and the total package is $190,000 which will come from partnerships and the excise tax on motor boat fuels.
The aquatics department will also be working with the boreal toad on North Horn Mountain. In the middle of May shocking will occur at Millsite to monitor fish. Habitat projects will also take place at Wrigley Springs and Mary's Lake. At Wrigleys, they will fence the spring and at Mary's Lake they will pipe the spring to help ensure that more water gets into these bodies of water.