The Emery County Public Lands Council welcomed new members Clyde Magnuson, Bruce Wilson and Sherrel Ward. Vernell Rowley was reappointed by the commissioners and Tory Killian has moved from non-voting status to a voting board member. These appointees filled slots vacated by resignation and expired terms.
Ray Petersen, public lands director, made the assignments for the new board members. Commissioner Ira Hatch encouraged the board members to gain a view of the bigger picture in spite of their individual assignments and to work for the common good which at times might mean giving in a little bit. Ward has been assigned to water, Wilson to mining and minerals which includes coal bed methane, Magnuson, SITLA interests which includes any future land exchanges, Rowley, history, and Killian, recreation.
Rowley was also elected as the vice-chairman to take charge of meetings when chairman, Dennis Worwood can't be there. Jim Gilson reported that the Sportsmen Banquet will be held on Feb. 21 at the BDAC. This is the annual fundraising event for the group and they expect to raise $1 million statewide this year. The doors open at 4:30 p.m. and dinner begins at 5:30 p.m. A number of raffles will be held for sporting good items.
Killian reported that she has been working on the dispersed camping draft. She doesn't have a subcommittee put together yet, but she has received help from the BLM and from Bill Broadbear from the forest service. Commissioner Gary Kofford said the RAC subcommittee wanted comments by Feb. 18.
Dickson Huntington reported that the Utah Range coalition has put together a range school for March 4 at the Museum of the San Rafael from 9 a.m.- 4 p.m. The presenters from Colorado who put on the range school in Moab in January will be in Emery County. Huntington encouraged all farmers and ranchers to attend. He also requested the Emery County Commission to make a donation to help with the costs of the school. Commissioner Kofford recommended Huntington get it on the agenda at the next commission meeting.
Rowley said they are currently working on four projects including the restoration of the old school house in Ferron, the Swasey dugout, repainting the San Rafael bridge and the installation of a flag pole at the Woodside cemetery.
Ward said the Huntington/Cleveland irrigation company is preparing an application to the Bureau of Reclamation for a pressurized irrigation system for all Huntington/Cleveland irrigators. It is a $55 million package and they should know by August whether or not their bid has been accepted. He said the Johnny Jensen Hollow reservoir is also being discussed. PacifiCorp has plans to lease 5,000 acre feet of water to be used as needed and will pay an incentive.
Ward said if the pressurized system goes there will be a 30-40 percent savings in water use.
Mesia Nyman gave the forest service update. She began by saying the forest service does not have a map of proposed road closures on the Muddy. Nyman said they are going through an analysis to develop a value and a risk to each road which hasn't been done yet. The forest service has also asked users and groups to let them know what they want to see as access. They will accept information from everyone. The information will be used to assign values to the roads. Environmental considerations and wildlife concerns are all taken into consideration. These values will aid in determining if a road will be closed or left open. Sometimes it also means recognizing a road which was not part of the forest system and incorporating it into the system. She described the process as being very open and NEPA analysis must also be completed. She said they received a letter from the Emery city council saying they wanted all existing roads left open. The map that Emery had at their council meeting was probably a copy of the map from the Utah Environmental College who has made their wishes known that they wish all forest roads to be closed.
Worwood said, "Well, there's your balance. Emery wants everything left open and the Utah Environmental College wants everything closed." Nyman said they must find some neutral ground, because it is unrealistic that every road remain open. Nyman said a public meeting will be held dealing with the Muddy roads analysis when the values have been determined. "We will say here are all the roads and their values, give us your thoughts on them. From the Muddy we will move north until we have evaluated the whole Wasatch Plateau, we have spent over a year on the Muddy with GPS crews out. The travel plan needs updating. We usually don't have conflict on the major arterial roads, but on the level two roads which are often a single lane or two tracks that a lot of people love to use is where we have the most conflict. We want to keep the rumors in check as we continue to manage this wonderful public land," said Nyman.
Nyman said they have plans to restore and repair the Seely guard station and would like to have it as a rental. People could rent it for the night and then snowmobile in during the winter and also use it during the summer. Nyman said they are lacking funds to complete the project and hope to get materials and manpower donated to fix it up.