Michael Davis, acting forest ranger, gave the quarterly update to the Emery County Commissioners at the May 4 meeting. Davis will be the acting ranger for one month while Mesia Nyman is in South Dakota.
Davis said the Lake ATV project is moving forward. The South Manti timber sale project is in the final stages before implementation. The timber available is mostly dead, but harvestable. Also, the mineral projects environmental impact statements are available now. These projects will allow SITLA to access their timber holdings.
The forest service continues to be concerned about the effects of the drought on the forests. The drought is having a great impact on the condition of the range. As an effect of the drought, the trees and grasses are extremely dry which results in an increased fire hazard. The forest service is implementing fuels projects. Six acres around Joe's Valley reservoir, pinion and juniper thinning on Nelson Mountain, and another 300 acres at the mouth of Little's Creek are several of the fuels projects scheduled for this coming summer.
During the 2005 summer, 1,400 acres of fuels are scheduled for a prescribed burn at Joe's Valley. At Willow Creek Campground, the forest service is offering free fuel use permits.
Davis also explained that new outfitter and guide permits, some of which are day use, and renewals for a years time, are now available. The project to dismantle the Muddy Creek Lodge is moving forward as the involved parties have not reached an adequate plan for restoration. Utah Power will be using riverside treatment along their right of ways. Also, there may be construction at three summer home locations.
The road from Joe's Valley reservoir to Ephraim will be the site of some realignment work this summer. Sanpete road department will be doing the alignment work. Indian Creek Campground in upper Joe's Valley will also be the site of summer construction work. The campground will remain open during the work.
Davis announced that conservation days will be May 18-19 at Old Folks Flat Campground in Huntington Canyon. The forest service is also in the process of hiring seasonal fire crews.
Commissioner Gary Kofford said the pine beetles are quite active in Huntington Canyon. He suggested the forest service become proactive in the situation, especially around the developed campgrounds.
Derris Jones of the Utah State Division of Wildlife Resources officer gave his report concerning wildlife issues. He said the bucks and bulls draw results are out now. The division is also finishing up the wildlife spring classifications. Fawn loss this year has not been as bad as in past years and the summer ranges are looking better. If the drought ends, that would make conditions even more desirable.
The DWR has hired a new damage specialist for this area. His name is Robert "Griz" Oleen from the Uintah Basin area. Jay Topham is the new officer to report to the public lands council.
Sage grouse have been located on Horn Mountain. The grouse have not been on that range for many years. The population of the grouse is holding its own in the Muddy Creek area.
Jones also announced that a new committee has been formed of 16 different agencies concerned with rangeland. Utah Partners for Conservation and Development will work to find common ground to solve the rangeland problems.
Range Creek Management meeting will be May 18 with trips into the area for the council to be on June 8.
Work at Duck Fork reservoir will continue as soon as conditions permit. The reservoir will be open for fishing this summer and anglers cannot keep cutthroat trout, only the tiger trout. Joe's Valley and Millsite reservoir are scheduled for gill net projects this month and 12,000 trout will be planted in Millsite.
Conditions at Desert Lake are not very good, with only three of the five units with any water in them. If a tour of the area is desired, arrangements can be made with Brent Stettler.