The management plan for Range Creek is still a work in progress as the land has had several managers since its acquisition.
In the Sept. 14 meeting of the Emery County Commission they heard from those involved in the Range Creek Management Plan. Ann Hannibal, from the Utah Museum of Natural History said the ownership of Range Creek transferred in January to SITLA and SITLA leased the property to the museum. The museum is based at the University of Utah, but is an independent authority belonging to the state of Utah. When the Division of Wildlife Resources was in ownership of Range Creek they started a draft management plan for Range Creek and this plan will be added to until a permanent management plan is put into place. The plan is narrowly focused and will meet all legal agreements and commitments made with entities previously involved. The museum has been in the canyon for eight years now doing research.
Commissioner Gary Kofford said Emery County would like to remain involved in the management plan as the process goes forward from here. Range Creek is important to Emery County and any artifacts and things found there should be allowed to return to Emery County. The concessionaires currently in place for visitors into Range Creek is working good and allows the public to visit Range Creek in an organized manner.
Hannibal agreed Emery County has a great stake in the canyon. She agreed artifacts should be exhibited here. The Utah State Museum of Natural History is currently building a new building where more items can be displayed. It is to be ready in January 2012.
Commissioner Jeff Horrocks said he would like to see the state museum work closely with the Museum of the San Rafael in Castle Dale.
Commissioner Kofford said he appreciates what has been done with Range Creek and the work the college students have done.
Duncan Metcalfe from the University of Utah has been involved with Range Creek since the sale of the property to the state by Waldo Wilcox. Metcalf said, "Some fascinating things are showing up. Waldo told me in the beginning there were several high elevation spots. These sites are 900 feet off the valley floor. We have been using technical rock climbers to reach these sites. We are not sure why these sites are there. We have found sites where you expect on the valley floor with the farm land. One spot is 1,200 feet up. There are a few pot holes there, enough water for a few days after rain, but they had to haul water up there. These sites were used for a long time. There were mutates (corn grinders) that were worn out at the bottom. We are testing to see what the environment was like back then. This past year we have taken core tests of the mud. The charcoal frequencies date the fire history back 2,000 years."
Metcalfe indicated corn leaves a specific signature and corn remains in Range Creek date back to 1200 AD. More carbon samples will be taken this next year. Core samples can be taken anywhere to determine the depth at which they were farming.
Metcalfe said a lot of what they have learned about the Fremont in Range Creek is new. Range Creek is teaching new things. They have found very few artifacts at Range Creek. "That is an enigma of Range Creek. A lot of energy went into the construction to form large rock alignments. There is almost no midden there. Midden is the garbage they leave behind. We have found broken bits. At a site near Blanding they found three middens of garbage. In Range Creek there is very little midden. It looked like they planned on being there a long time, but then they weren't."
It's not clear why the Fremont left Range Creek, when it looked like they planned to stay.
Metcalfe said they have trained 70-80 college students at Range Creek from all over the country. They have trained in paleo and enviro. "It's an amazing place to train students. Range Creek is a huge opportunity for the state of Utah and Emery County to be on the forefront of what a college education should be. Being outdoors in this setting," said Metcalfe.
Kofford said UDOT is putting in a rest stop at Horse Canyon and informative panels will be placed there informing travelers of Range Creek and some of its history. He expressed his appreciation to the museum and the work they have done in Range Creek.
In other commission business they approved the management agreement between Emery County and Huntington Aviation for management of the Huntington airport. A county auction is set for Nov. 6 at the road shop.
Emery Telcom and Emery County entered into an agreement for a line between Long Ridge and the TV transmitter site on Horn Mountain. Emery Telcom will replace the current line with fiber optic cable. Bret Mills is the communication director for the Emery County Sheriff's Office. He said their long term goal is to be able to bring TV to Joe's Valley. Emery Telcom will run the fiber in exchange for a spot in the building on Horn. This arrangement will save the county $8-12,000. The county will have to buy the transducers for the FM. Later on if TV can go to Joe's Valley they can do that over the fiber. Mills said they met on Horn Mountain with Emery Telcom and looked things over and everything looked good. The Horn Mountain site is a main hook-up site for cellular service in this part of the state.
Emery County will contribute $15,000 for the San Rafael water shed study. All major water users are involved with this study and it is being funded from a variety of entities. The study will look at water use and if the new sprinkling systems are saving water and how much. It will look at storage questions and if the county needs more storage due to these water savings. Kofford said there are people down stream that want our water. This study will give Emery County answers to these water questions and more and will keep water in Emery County for agricultural uses. The water survey will take place in three phases.
The commission approved the money to conduct repairs to the elevator in the county building. The commission approved the right of way for the Buckhorn kiosk and information center along with a restroom at the pump house. The area can also be used for staging for search and rescues. Horrocks reported all the studies are complete and they have consulted with grazers and the site won't interfere with their cattle watering in the area.
There are openings on the planning commission and the nursing home board. Beulah Oveson resigned from the library board so there will be an opening there as well. The commission gave approval to begin advertising for these positions.
Under citizen concerns, Phil Fauver thanked the commission for the nice senior luncheon held at the Bear Creek campground. The county donated $250 and the commission donated $250 towards the lunch. BKs did the catering and the salads and desserts were donated. Prizes were also purchased for bingo.
Fauver said people have expressed concern over the cottonwood trees dying along the ditch banks because water is no longer running in the ditches. Kofford said it is a concern and the county will need to take a look at the problem. He has noticed the trees dying in Ferron. He said it could be the cost of progression. He thinks the canal companies are responsible and the problem needs to be addressed.
Horrocks reported on the things he has been involved in the last two weeks. He attended the governor's energy initiative which looks at energy for the next 10 years. Ted Wilson, the chairman of the governor's committee said he would take back to the governor the needs of Carbon and Emery counties to be allowed to continue in the extraction industries. He attended Sen. Orrin Hatch's summit on economic development. All three commissioners attended the flag ceremony for Peach Days which was a touching tribute to the armed forces. "We would like to compliment Ferron City on that program," said Horrocks. An end of season lunch was held for county employees. The sheriff's office helped with the Little Grand Canyon Marathon and it was a job well done. The public lands council continues to work on a land use bill. Horrocks met with the fire chiefs and the burn window for fall was set. Sept. 25-Oct. 24 for the western end of the county and Oct. 2-Oct. 31 for the Green River area. Those wishing to burn must obtain a burn permit from their respective city. Burn permits are free.
Sheriff LaMar Guymon reported 502 people were registered for the marathon. Of those, 414 completed the race, there were three categories including the full marathon; half marathon and 10k. The race started at 6:15 a.m. and the last runners finished around 3:30 p.m. There were 41 visitors from other countries. Thirty-one different states represented and 11 runners from Canada and 42 local participants. The registration began in Carbon County on Friday and continued at the Huntington Park on Saturday morning. The runners commented on the beautiful flower pots in Huntington. They had nothing but praise for the beautiful area they had to run in and Sheriff Guymon reported he had several positive comments about our county. The race brings people into the motels and eating establishments in the county. It is a positive event for our county which is likely to keep on growing.
Sheriff Guymon reported the Bureau of Land Management has given the sheriff's office a grant of $30,000 to buy a new vehicle for the desert patrol. Sheriff Guymon has also been negotiating the contract for the law enforcement in Range Creek. This will require an increase in staff of 1.5 officers to handle the extra patrol. A contract will soon be ready for the county attorney David Blackwell to review.
Kofford reported UDOT will hold one of their monthly meetings in Castle Dale and there will be a comment period time for local cities and residents on Sept. 16. Kofford attended the BLM RAC board and they met with the new Utah BLM director Juan Palma, the board looks forward to good things from Palma. He covered several subjects with the RAC board including grazing.
The food bank building construction is underway and the dirt work preparing the ground is taking place now. The remodel on the sheriff's office training room and offices for the ambulance director and communications director is underway in the metal building.
The care center remodel is nearing completion and an open house is scheduled for early October.
Fauver asked why there has been 105 change orders on the care center remodel. Kofford said it is a 45 year old building that was never updated. The original plans were not in depth enough. As the work began it became clear more needed to be replaced than originally planned for including an extensive upgrade in power. The south wing which is the newest part also needed upgrades not planned for including a new floor, linoleum, carpet, replace decking, insulation, new roof shingles and other unforeseen items. The county expected a cost overrun on the project. The original estimate was $1.28 million. The money from the CIB was $1.6 million and included an overage estimate. "We undershot it, but we have a facility that will go forward another 40-50 years. There are new people transferring there. I would like to compliment the staff and manager and everyone involved for a job well done. It will serve our citizens real well," said Kofford.
Horrocks reminded everyone of the Melon Days celebration. The work on the Green River Medical Center remodel is nearing completion. They will hold an open house ribbon cutting on Sept. 27. All commissioners will attend the Utah Association of Counties meetings in Midway.
The standard form agreement with Emery County and Broderick and Henderson for the construction of the new food bank building was ratified. A fee waiver was approved for a burial lot in Lawrence. A business license was approved for Trimac Transportation Central.
The next commission meeting will be on Sept. 28 at 9 a.m.