The Emery County Public Lands Department and the planning and zoning have been working on an addendum to the county plan. A public hearing was held at the July 3 commission meeting to take public input on the document.
Ray Petersen, public lands director reported the Bureau of Land Management's resource management plan is in the final comment period. The BLM is required by the Federal Land Policy Management Act to wherever possible be consistent with county plans. The county has prepared a statement on each of the RMP alternatives. The county states where it stands on all of the alternatives. This covers 31 addendums in different areas of the RMP. The information technology department prepared a map of the RMP area within Emery County.
The planning commission recommended the commission adopt the new document.
Petersen described the map and the areas the color represented. He said all green areas are wilderness study areas. These WSAs have tied up land in Emery County for several years. These areas will not change unless by a decree of Congress. Full wilderness status can only be approved by Congress.
The addendum has nothing to do with these WSA lands. The red areas on the map include the BLM reinventory areas. These areas are those determined by the BLM to show wilderness characteristics. The pink areas on the map show areas the BLM is recommending and nominating for wilderness areas. Petersen said Alternative E includes all those areas and the WSA areas for 64 percent of Emery County.
The addendum identifies each area and describes its historic use along with any modern day uses, mineral resources, social uses of an area, etc. Emery County would like to see those uses continue in any particular area. Each area is outlined and described in the new addendum. If an area is specific to mineral extraction, Emery County states it would like to see that extraction continue. Other uses listed include: grazing, ATV, motorized, camping, fishing etc. The document clearly states Emery County's position on each of these uses.
"We want to make clear to the BLM, this is where we stand. FLPMA directs the BLM to recognize county plans as much as possible. The BLM is looking forward to getting our plan to use as a tool," said Petersen.
Mike McCandless planning and zoning director said an effort must be made to stay aware of the BLM RMP process because it can really affect the county. It's not just way out in the desert somewhere, but lands close to the cities as well. He mentioned Millsite to Rock Canyon which is an area under consideration. He said they tried to include the histories of each area in the planning document and the activities which have occurred in an area, even if that use is not currently on going. "We've tried to include the social aspects of an area, which the BLM sometimes ignores," said McCandless.
McCandless mentioned the county cannot dictate what can and cannot be done on federal land. Commissioner Drew Sitterud said that might be true, but it's still Emery County land as well and federal land is supposed to be managed for the best interest of the people.
Those involved were pleased with the outcome of the document and it will be submitted to the BLM, but in the end the BLM can still do what they want.
"This document presents our side of the story," said Petersen.
Before going to Washington, the RMP will go before the Utah Governor's Office for a consistency review. In this review any problems will be identified before it goes to Washington.
The Emery County Commission voted to approve the addendum which will now be submitted to the Price BLM office for consideration in their RMP process.