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County decides against partnering with SUWA

Emery County Commission Chairman Gary Kofford says a decision has been made not to accept an offer by Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance to help finance a public lands planning facilitator position. At the Emery County Public Lands Council meeting on Feb. 2, the concept of co-funding the planning position was discussed, with strong opposition to the concept being expressed.

Commissioner Kofford states "this was an opportunity to incorporate some alternative funding in the land use planning process, however, due to opposition expressed to the proposal, it is no longer considered a viable option, it's no longer on the table. Most stakeholders have expressed support for hiring a facilitator, but with other funding sources. Emery County did not budget for this position so supplemental funding of some sort may be necessary should we move on this."

Emery County Public Lands Chairman Bruce Wilson adds, "The council voted on this proposal in the Lands Council Meeting on Tuesday, but since it was not an agenda item, the council couldn't take official action. We will properly notice it up for the next meeting where we can take proper action."

Although a contract had not been finalized for the position, the facilitator would work with public lands stakeholders, including state and federal agencies, the Public Lands Council, the County Commission, public land use advocates and others to develop a county land use plan and federal legislation that would define resource use, including wilderness designation, in Emery County. The facilitator is not a decision maker, but performs a role which assists stakeholders and decision makers in reaching an acceptable outcome.

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