The Emery County Public Lands Council meeting began with agency reports. Floyd Johnson from the Bureau of Land Management reported about the San Rafael route designation plan. The administration portion of the plan is complete and the BLM is awaiting a ruling from the district court.
Johnson mentioned the scoping meeting held in Green River for input on the management of the Old Spanish Trail. He said there are no answers or decisions yet. Commissioner Ira Hatch informed Johnson of the acquisition of signs for the trail to be installed prior to the convention concerning the trail to be held in Green River on June 9-11. "Commissioner Kofford has taken the initiative to get the signs for this convention. The participants at the convention want to take a field tour of the trail sites, and we are requesting permission from the BLM to install them prior to the convention," said Commissioner Hatch.
Johnson asked if the signs were permanent or temporary, and was told that these are temporary. The convention group will adopt their own logos and design a permanent sign. Permission was given to install the signs. Commissioner Kofford will oversee their installation and report the GPS coordinates of the signs.
Johnson reported that the Dinosaur Quarry will be closed until August. Renovations of the visitor center will be complete then and an open house was held.
Ray Petersen reported an upcoming lease sale by the Division of Oil, Gas and Mining. The sale was May 16 at the BLM office is Salt Lake City. There are three large areas in Emery County. "With the oil and gas situation, this could greatly impact Emery County," said Petersen.
In the wildlife portion, Derris Jones of the Division of Wildlife Resources reported about the kids fishing day. He said the first one was held at the Huntington Ponds on May 6, and another one will be held at Millsite Reservoir on May 20. At these events, the young fishermen are issued a license to fish for the day. From these licenses, the basic information about the youth is gathered and the DWR is now sending the children a newsletter. In the newsletter is information about fishing and other items pertaining to instructions and ecology.
Jones reported about the 11 different habitat types in Utah. He said they have been combined into four different groups, wetlands, lakes and streams, forest lands, and rangelands. He stated that a focus will be designated and each of those focus points will be where the habitat work will take place. Jones also stated that four new biologists have been hired and will be working in regional NRCS offices by July 1.
Mark H Williams informed the council that he had been in the San Rafael with Petersen and had taken GPS coordinates for the SouthEastern Utah OHV Club's poker ride. This ride is totally on SITLA land. Williams requested the Emery County Commissioners consider purchasing a right-of-way for this trail. "This is a good trail with many great views, and it can be utilized for not only motorized, but hikers and horse traffic also. The benefit would be that we would always have the right-of-way even if SITLA disposed of the property at a later date," said Williams.
Alice Carlton of the forest service said, "All good planning comes to an end." Sometime around the third week of June, the forest plan revisions will be published. This proposed plan will be available for a 90 day comment period, then those comments will be incorporated, followed by the publication of the final plan. The final plan will have a 30 day objection period. "During that third week in June, we will be hosting a thank you celebration for all those involved with the plan," she added.
Carlton also reported concerning the wild and scenic rivers. She said that of the final river segments being considered, none of them met the suitability test, and all have been dropped from designation. Petersen stated that, "wild and scenic rivers has been our focus during the BLM and forest service management plans. We have worked very hard on this issue."
Mesia Nyman of the forest service added that work on the Rock Canyon trail has been completed. Also that after many years of reduced cattle numbers on East Mountain, this year the permittees have been given the option to increase the number of cattle or lengthen the time the cows spend on the mountain. The permittees chose to extend the time.
Several weed treatment projects will be undertaken this season. One will be around Electric Lake, another from Grassy Lake south to Ferron Canyon, and another from Grassy Lake north to Potter's Pond. The Black Dragon will undergo a fuels treatment program, and in July a prescribed burn in the Jungle is planned.
In the energy area, three wells will be installed, near Ralston, on Skyline and at Potter's Pond. Exploratory drilling will also take place at SUFCO in the Pines area. XTO will be drilling near the Des-Bee-Dove.
Commissioner Hatch stated, "As the BLM and forest service plans wind down, I want everyone to know how much it has helped us here in Emery County to be included as a cooperating agency. This is not how it has been done in other parts of the state. Ray has been the work horse in this process. I want to thank everyone involved, and especially the BLM and the forest service for letting us be involved."
The Division of Oil, Gas and Mining said that drilling rigs will be moving into the area very soon. As many as 40 new wells will be drilled this season, with the bulk being drilled around Huntington.
Dennis Worwood gave an explanation of the differences between RS-2477 and Title V roads. An 1866 mining law gave people the right to build roads across public land. This is known as revised statute 2477. When FLPMA came about in 1976, it repealed RS-2477, and made other provisions for the building of roads, including Title V. Although FLPMA grandfathered in the existing roads.
When those roads were grandfathered in, they had easements and rights-of way, but FLPMA did not make any inventories of those roads. That is why the controversy exists today. A recent court decision said that state law should determine the easements. Routes must be documented to have been in existence prior to FLPMA to be considered for RS-2477.
Title V is the process today by which roads are constructed. The easements of those roads are very specific. If a route exists that is under RS-2477, and a governing agency wants to do upgrades, it must stay within the easements of the RS-2477 claim.
Peterson announced the June meeting for the public lands council will be held June 16 and will be a field trip into Range Creek.