By Julie Johansen
Rod Player, Chairman of the Emery County Public Lands Council, announced on Tuesday that the Emery County Commissioners have appointed Ben Grimes and Wade Allinson as new members of the council. This added an additional member to the council and filled a vacancy.
Also during Tuesday’s meeting, Player read the mission statement of the council, which states, “to represent the public lands interests of Emery County and its citizens and to perform an advocacy role for local users and stakeholders… It is the intent and purpose of the ECPLC to aggressively preserve the community heritage of Emery County by vigorously participating in and influencing all public land planning and decision making on behalf of and under the authority of the Emery County Commission.”
When the agencies began their reports, Chris Conrad of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) introduced Karl Ivory who gave a slideshow presentation on the Range Creek area and its history. Ivory showed the boundaries of the BLM, privately-owned land and land of Utah State managed by the University of Utah Natural Museum. He explained how the transfer of land titles have advanced over the years. Ivory also spoke on the permits and absence of permits in those areas as well as a bison migration problem in the area that many agencies are working to solve. The bison migrate from the tribal lands into the canyon and private land but because of the cultural protection of the area, harvest is almost impossible. Fencing and herding of the bison have not helped the reduction of the large numbers encroaching in the area.
The BLM also announced that the management of campgrounds is considering increasing fees for camping. There are now four campgrounds that charge camping fees and it is expected that number could increase to about 20. The fees could increase from $8 to $20 per night. Amenities will have to be added to these sites before these fees will be implemented. The BLM is seeking public input on these issues.
Chris Wood from the Division of Wildlife Resources also reported on the bison in Range Creek. He said they are in the final stages of reduction of the size of the tribal bison herd in Range Creek. The goal is to have zero bison in the area but the numbers are currently between 800 and 1,200. Flying for elk counts has reported that the count is down and there will be less cow elk permits issued this year. An area favorite is the mule deer and they seem to be diminishing as well, so an aggressive hunt on predators is being planned, including bears and cougars. Representative Carl Albrecht has introduced legislation for this.
Daren Olsen, U.S. Forest Ranger, spoke about the Joe’s Valley proposal from the Emery Water Conservancy District. He stated that he has seen the proposal and a map but no decisions have been made. There is still a lot that has to be worked out, Olsen said. He also reported plenty of snow in the watershed as well as an open house on the forest plan that will be hosted in late March or April.