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Lands Council Prepares for the First in a Series of Meetings on Monument

Two public information meetings on the San Rafael Swell National Monument will be held this week, according to Emery County Public Lands

Council Chairman Dennis Worwood. The first meeting will be held from 6 to 9 p.m. on March 22 at Green River High School. The second meeting will be held from 9 a.m. until noon on March 23 at Emery High School.

The meetings are co-sponsored by the Emery County Public Lands Council, Emery County Economic Development Board and Emery County Farm Bureau. All interested persons are encouraged to attend. The meetings will focus on Monument-related access and roads issues, although a broader range of topics will be touched on in Green River. Presenters will include retired BLM Field Manager Dick Manus, who will speak on the BLM San Rafael Route Designation Plan, and Utah Association of Counties Assistant Director Mark Walsh, who will speak on RS 2477 Rights of Way. The meeting format will allow participants to ask questions of presenters, and to make written comments.

Worwood indicated that four or five information meetings will be held, with later meetings covering tourism, grazing, water rights, air quality, historic sites and other issues. At the conclusion of the meetings, the public lands council will use the information presented and public comments to develop a final recommendation for the county commission. The commissioners will hold a public hearing before acting on the recommendation.

Although some have assumed that the Monument was a "done deal," Worwood emphasized that the public process is just starting. No Monument recommendation has been submitted to the Department of Interior.

"President Bush said that he wants a grassroots rather than a top-down approach to national monuments," Worwood said. "Since no one has ever used this approach, it took some time for the Department of Interior to sort out the details. Now that we understand the public process, we are ready to move ahead." According to Worwood, "Every option will be considered." The council's task will be to determine how a monument might address land management needs and local goals.

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