By Julie Johansen
Throughout the past few months, there has been a citizen outcry for public meetings to take place in the evening. The Emery County Public Lands Council decided to schedule some evening meetings to meet this need. On Tuesday, the council met at 7 p.m. instead of its usual morning meeting.
This meeting was posted and published to meet all requirements. It was disappointing to those who conducted the meeting that only a handful citizens attended; however, a couple of the gentlemen in attendance voiced their appreciation of the meeting being held when they were not working.
Discussion then took moving the trails committee meeting to the evening from October to June at 6 p.m. Reportedly, during the summer months, a lot of meetings are spent outside.
Chairman Rod Player opened his comments paying tribute to Gale Anderson and his knowledge of the San Rafael Swell. The Emery County Commissioners reported of their efforts to help get the Public Lands Bill implemented in an expedient manner.
Jake Palmar from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) next reported several retirees from the Price office. He also expressed his concern about the work involved in implementing the new public lands bill. He stated it will require many man hours on the ground. The BLM is also trying to complete the San Rafael Desert Travel Management Plan by November.
Chris Woods with the Department of Natural Resources reported that they are working with property owners to help get the elk south of Ferron to return to the mountains. He also said that gill netting at Joe’s Valley will take place on May 14. Anyone interested in taking part can meet at the boat dock at 8:30 a.m. Woods also said that deer counts and sage grouse counts are happening at the present time. Present counts report that grouse numbers are down.
Forest Service Ranger Daren Olsen stated that they are beginning to close gates on the forest as the temperatures increase and the snow melts. No burns are planned on the north end of the Manti-La Sal this summer, Olsen said. The Canyon Timber project has been sent to the regional office for review with hopes of a decision by early June.
Larry Johansen, representing the Utah State Parks, said that a new manager for Huntington, Scofield and Millsite was recently hired. His name is Brian Curtis and he is looking for housing in this area. James Wells is now the manager at Goblin Valley State Park. Johansen also reported that both Huntington North and Millsite campgrounds are receiving campers.
The Washington delegation staff, Kelsey Berg from Mitt Romney’s office and Larry Ellerson representing John Curtis, both spoke of their involvement with the public lands legislation and continued support. Ellerson spoke of some consternation about the helium leases on the Swell, which were there before the legislation, but their concern is with access to the mines.
The discussion about the proposed solar farm on School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration land on Cedar Mountain asked for public comments. Most felt that this is not the place for it, but it could be moved to a close proximity.