By Julie Johansen
This month’s Emery County Public Lands Meeting began with chairman Rod Player reporting that there are many opportunities for volunteers to help on public lands, especially with cleanup. Some formal organizations can be contacted but work can also be done individually by making every place better than you found it. Anyone can contact local agencies to ask what needs to be done.
The Emery County Commissioners then reported that they have not had any updates on the RAC Committee outlined in the Dingles Act. The names have been submitted to Washington DC and are waiting for appointment.
The environmental specialist with the Bureau of Land Management in the Price office reported that the travel management plan for the San Rafael Swell is on track to be signed this fall. Other projects that are going through the NEPA process include Fossil Point, south of Green River and Emery Telcom Fiber from Salt Lake City to Moab, which will increase communication abilities though out the area. Environmental Assessments (EA) are being done on the Good Water Rim Trail, Goblin Valley campground, Millsite expansion, Lila Canyon lease modifications, Willam’s Draw, Chalk Hills expansion and helium mines. He was asked about the golf course at Millsite and replied that they are making progress on it but it is in review with an interdisciplinary team and he didn’t have a time frame for it.
Bart Kettle, Acting Deputy Director of Oil and Gas with DOGM, gave a presentation on the critical functions of oil and gas. This study was to evaluate proposals and mitigate potential future impacts. He also announced new staff members, including Dal Gray and Travis Gray.
Kettle said that Emery County has 332 unplugged mines but low crude oil production. Most of Emery County production is natural gas, but that is also down from five years ago. The division is working on the Crandall Canyon reclamation, Deer Creek erosion and the Emery Deep Mine on Walker Flat. NEPA is being conducted for Hiawatha culvert maintenance (the Miller Creek restoration project) that was impacted by the Seeley Fire as well as the Buck Master mine closures.
Chris Wood of the Department of Wildlife Resources reported that new boat ramp at Joe’s Valley will be closed for three days, July 14, 15 and 16, while they chip seal. Arrangements have been made to reopen the old boat ramp for those days.
The Ute Tribe Bison migration issue has been very busy and plans were made in March to solve this problem. When the bison come into Range Creek from the tribal land, they are removed. So far, 11 bison have been taken out and the meat donated to the public. They seem to keep coming to public and private land, so a hunt has been slated for Aug. 1 to Jan. 31. Permits can be purchased but applicants need to realize that it is a hard hunt and they will lose points when they apply. Once the bison stop migrating, the hunt stops.
Utah State Parks Ranger Larry Johansen expressed record usage of the state parks over the past weekends. “Huntington North had to close the gates over the 4th of July weekend as there wasn’t even standing room,” he said.
The Washington Delegation, including Kelsey Berg, Clay Crozier, Larry Ellerston and Heath Hansen, reported that they are happy to hear of the title transfer of Joe’s Valley Dam and are still working on the PILT payments. Some counties were shorted these funds this year because of formulas used to decide the federal payments.