Bugs are released in the forest to help control noxious weeds.
The Castleland RC&D council had a busy year in 2009. They were involved in several projects in Carbon, Emery, Grand and San Juan counties. The council is operated from their office in Castle Dale. Wayne Urie is the director of the RC&D for this region. The mission of the council is to facilitate community excellence by building partnerships, creating dialogue and developing processes to better utilize natural and human resources in southeastern Utah. The vision of the council is to be a creative and effective partnership of community leaders and volunteers dedicated to enhancing southeastern Utah communities.
The RC&D council was established in 1991. The council addressed resource conservation and development issues in the four county area. The area comprises approximately 17,400 square miles and represents nearly one fourth of the state. San Juan County includes Indian reservation lands belonging to the Navajos and the White Mesa Utes. The Native American population makes up more than one half of San Juan county's population.
The council has been serving as the fiscal agent for the Skyline Cooperative Weed Management area since 2003. The Skyline CWMA is a collaborative effort of the agencies with the goal of controlling noxious weeds beyond government boundaries. In 2009 the CWMA was awarded the 2009 rangeland stewardship through collaboration award from the BLM for its cooperative efforts on the successful 2008 Order of the Arrow Tamarisk Removal project in Buckhorn Wash on the San Rafael Swell. During 2009, the Skyline CMWA completed nine weed spraying projects and released 31,000 biological control insects in Carbon and Emery counties. Total acres treated last year was 1,800 acres. The CWMA publishes a calendar each year highlighting noxious weeds and the work being done to eradicate them.
Another partnership project the council was happy to be involved with was the water rights workshop. This workshop was held in partnership with the Price River Conservation District and the San Rafael Conservation District. The state engineers office presented valuable information to local farmers and water users. Topics discussed included water rights, basic policy, livestock water rights, current regional issues and recent legislative changes. State Engineer Kent Jones addressed local concerns on the over appropriated upper Colorado River basin. Workshops were held in Price, Green
River and Moab.
Another needed project occurred when the council partnered with the Bureau of Reclamation and Hank Stevens a resident of Navajo Mountain and president of the Navajo Mountain water users association. They worked to help members of Navajo Mountain and Piute mesa reduce the number of trips made to acquire water from a source many miles away. Stevens constructed 11 rain catchers to provide much needed water to elderly families in the area. The council acquired funds through NRCS grants and private donations to provide materials and labor for the structures. In addition to the rain catchers, projects included installing solar panels for power, indoor plumbing and additional gutter systems.
Two grazing workshops were held with one in Castle Dale and one in Monticello. Ranchers learned about the growth stages of grasses and timing proper grazing and pasture rotation. They learned the science of animals and how they learn to eat and where they live. Grazing management and grazing improvement as well as which grasses grow best in which soil added a wealth of information to attendees.
The council is governed by officers who included Sam Cunningham, chairman, Roger Barton, vice chair, Debbie Hatt, treasurer, and officers: George Cook, Hilary Gordon, David Hinkins, Gary Kofford, Orlando LaFontaine, Mike McCandless, Jeanne McEvoy, David Olsen, JoAnn Behling, Susan Taylor, Rigby Wright, David Thompson and Mistie Christiansen.
Other recent projects include: Price River Enhancement, signs for prevention of the spread of zebra mussels, irrigation water management workshop, Millsite sedimentation and dam safety, Skyline CWMA, San Juan CWMA, Navajo rainwater project, Navajo sheep and wool project, Castle Valley Town EWP facilitation, Utah Partners for Conservation Development, Bluff bridge, community fire plans, John Wesley Powell Research facility and Crystal Geyser, alternative energy, Green River Salinity Diversion dam, regional agricultural marketing cooperative, Mancos Hills Industrial Park, Buckhorn Information Center and the Southeastern Utah Tamarisk Partnership.