The Emery County Commissioners met in their regularly scheduled meeting on Sept. 3 at 4 p.m. in the commission chambers. Those present were Commissioners Drew Sitterud, Ira Hatch and Randy Johnson. Also present was Sheriff Lamar Guymon and County Attorney Dave Blackwell.
The meeting was opened with a prayer from Boyd Wilson, afterwhich the audience said the pledge of allegiance.
The first item on the agenda was the quarterly update from the forest service by new district ranger, Mesia Nyman. She said she just came from a forest in Wyoming where they receive 27 inches of precipitation every year. "It's really dry here, I've worked in the Dixie National Forest, Uintah, Wasatch/Cache National Forests and also in Nevada and Montana. The feed on the mountain is about gone and the permittees are taking their cattle off early. A lot of the cows are off or starting off and the sheep will be next." said Nyman.
Nyman also mentioned that PacifiCorp is drilling by helicopter in Millfork Canyon. The forest service is also looking at allowing gas exploration on Middle Mountain. The commissioners pointed out that Middle Mountain is a tight canyon and a key water shed. Nyman said if they don't hit anything the land would be rehabilitated this year.
Nyman displayed a copy of the wild and scenic rivers eligibility map, she said they had to look at stream segments to determine suitability and there is also a list of criteria that needs to be met. Nyman said they will need the commission's assistance on what's suitable.
The commissioner's invited Nyman to attend the public land council meetings which are held the second Tuesday of every month at 10 a.m.
The next item on the agenda was the Division of Wildlife Resources update by Derris Jones. He mentioned that they now have a habitat biologist named Chris Colt who will be a liaison between the DWR and the oil and gas industry people. They also have a new fisheries biologist named Justin Hart. This will fully staff the aquatics division for the DWR. He also said the division has had to deal with a $500,000 budget cut, but hopefully it will not effect too much and they have been able to survive the cuts without laying people off.
He said that a memorandum of understanding is being worked on with SITLA to allow drilling in the Gordon Creek area. There has been a misunderstanding in the past concerning that area and there has been some pressure to extract gas from the Gordon Creek area in the future.
Commissioner Hatch mentioned that the oil and gas companies are not reseeding as fast as they could and that the division needs to keep on them. The reclamation work on the pipelines and pads has been kept up on but the auxiliary lines which cover a lot of area have not received needed attention. Colt will look into the matter and discuss it with the industry.
Commissioner Hatch said it is important that reseeding take place because north of Huntington, at Mohrland, Hiawatha and other areas have a lot of elk that winter there.
The DWR is looking to install game proof fencing along State Route 10 to prevent the migration of elk across the highway. They are talking with the Utah Department of Transportation, because they will be doing some refencing along the highway due to road construction in the area.
The DWR believes it is a safety hazard to have the elk crossing over, especially the big bulls who cross the highway to feed in the hay fields in the area. They have installed game proof fencing along the highway by Helper and also a water guzzler has been installed to keep them from crossing the highway.
Wild turkey transplants from the Boulder Mountain to the Book Cliffs have occured. On Desert Lake this year the waterfowl production has been zero. There have been only two goose broods at the lake. Fish Lake is requesting any excess elk or elk causing problems for agriculture to be transplanted to Fish Lake. A bait and catch process will be utilized should the need arise to transport elk from the Manti to Fish Lake.
The big horn sheep are doing well and 14 sheep have been transplanted from Montana to Jack Creek. A sage grouse transplant will also take place in Gordon Creek to reestablish them there. There have been a lot of bear problems this summer, mostly in Monticello and East Carbon. The bears are only given two strikes against them. If they cause a problem once, then they are moved, if they are a problem again they are history.
The dove season isn't looking bright, the drought has been hard on them; the forest grouse hasn't been effected as much. Most species have had zero production. The wild fires in our area have been beneficial and the DWR will provide seed for the reclamation of the Rattle Complex fire and the Price Canyon fire. Fishing regulations have been relaxed at Millers Flat, Cleveland Reservoir, Monticello, Gigliotti pond, Duck Fork and Recapture reservoirs.
The Gigliotti pond had 1,000 anglers the first three days and the Helper kids ride their bikes to it. A pond is being considered for Price and if there is interest a pond is being considered for Emery County as well. The DWR, forest service and Commissioner Sitterud met with cattle grazers on Horn Mountain for a field trip to assess conditions and discuss the elk herd. Jones described the meeting as being very productive although they didn't see eye to eye on everything. It was good to build relationships and get to know each other better. They did agree that the DWR will be aggressive when the elk come down into the agriculture lands. The DWR does not expect the private landowners to feed the state's elk and they appreciate what the landowners do for the herds.
The Book Cliff hunt was cancelled this year and if it reopens next year those with permits for this year will be honored next year. DWR has been active in filling guzzlers all summer, and the drought has identified areas which were dry and really needed water. Colorado cutthroats will be introduced into Rock Creek and Bear Creek in the Range Creek area. Those areas will be planted sometime in September by helicopter. The rotenone treatment of Duck Fork will also take place in September to turn it into a brood lake for Colorado cutthroat.
The next item on the agenda was the consideration and approval of Horn Mountain amendment with WWC Holding Company Incorporated.
The next item was the ratification of the cooperative agreement for the Goblin Valley State Park Access Road Project. Commissioner Hatch said they will be meeting with the joint highway subcommittee about funding for finishing the paving of Highway 24 into where it connects with the Temple Mountain Road which is about seven miles.
The next item was the discussion of the upcoming Patriot Day commemoration. The commission voiced their support for Governor Leavitt and the plans he has made for the day and for continued acts of kindness for the month of October. The flag at the courthouse will be lowered to half staff and then raised to express hope. A moment of silence will be observed in the courthouse at 9:45 a.m. as requested by the governor.
The next item of business was the granting of tax exempt status for Orient Lodge. The next item was the discussion of the vacancy on the Emery County Travel Bureau. The position will be advertised and filled by a resident from Green River.
The next item was the discussion of a road encroachment by Chevron/Texaco to install utility lines. Huntington City water lines also run along this corridor, so Darrel Leamaster from the Castle Valley Special Service District stressed the importance of locating the water line before any work be done in the area. The water pipe is fragile and supplies the entire city with water, so it is critical this pipe not be disturbed. It was determined the gas company coordinate with the CVSSD and the road department.
The next item was the approval of the check edit list, additional claims, requisitions and dispositions. One item brought up for question was the payment for animal control. Sheriff Guymon explained that the county pays for all the animal control countywide. It was decided that this be looked at in a budget hearing, because the county pays for many services for which it is not reimbursed.
The next item was the approval of a temporary position in the GIS department. The next item was the commissioner reports. Commissioner Sitterud reported he had met with the forest service, grazers, sportsmen and the DWR on Horn Mountain and discussed the problems with the elk. Experts in range management have determined that the available feed could hold the elk through the winter.
Commissioner Sitterud also said he had met with Eddie Cox from Sanpete County about the upgrade on the Skyline Drive Road. He let them know that Emery County isn't against grading, adding fill and culverts where needed and upkeep on the road, but would be against paving the road. He also asked them to explore other roads, such as the Millers Flat road for improvements. The meeting was adjourned and the next commission meeting will be held on Sept. 17 at 9 a.m.