By Julie Johansen
Rodney Player, Chairman of the Emery County Public Lands Board, commended Ahmed Mohsen Tuesday at the Emery County Public Lands meeting for the partnership between the council and the BLM while he has been manager of the Price Field Office.
In deep appreciation Player thanked him for his reports to the council and wished him good luck in his new assignment in Cedar City. Mohsen told the council how proud he was of the way they do business and that he often uses them as an example to other places he works with. Another will fill in for him until the new field manager is appointed. He stated that the public comment period for the closure of Deer Creek Mine has ended and it is one step closer to final closure. The Joe’s Valley Bouldering project is still open for public review. Mohsen reminded all of the wild horse gather on the Muddy Creek in August that will help to bring wild horses and burros to the approved management level. These gatherings are driven by funding.
Mark Stilson with Division of Water Rights commented about the concerns of the permits received by Skyline Mine with regards to its location within 200 linear feet of Boulger Reservoir. He stated that there will be additional meetings to make sure that there is proper monitoring at the reservoir. Mine officials feel that there will be no impact on the reservoir, but others are not convinced.
Storrar and Alder from the Division of Oil, Gas and Mining addressed the progress of closing the Deer Creek Mine. The pipeline will eventually dump into the Huntington Creek. The iron levels seem be to in compliance with the less than 2.0 ppm and can be disbursed without any treatment. They also announced that the Cottonwood Mine would be reclaimed this summer. They also reported that there is concern about subsidence and angle draw with mining so close to Boulger Reservoir. The duo said that there is no present plan to mine under the reservoir. There will be continuous monitoring of the Huntington Creek flow versus the Price River. Aquifers and porosity will be taken into consideration.
DWR representative Wade Paskett explained the fish limit increase to 16 trout at Millsite. He also told of gill netting at various areas during the next few weeks and the stocking of area reservoirs. Turkey season is also opening April 8 and will run through the April 27. General turkey season will open May 1. When questioned by a board member about the location of turkey transplants, he reported that they are moving around but were planted at Hambrick Bottoms in Cottonwood Canyon with some in Ferron. The Sage Grouse count is looking good both at Wildcat and on Horn Mountain.
Bryan Torgerson from SITLA then gave a review of last month’s meeting, stating that land exchanges caused by federal monuments are difficult to do with Uintah County because of tribal regulations. As a result they are working on exchanges with other states. They will be holding a public lands auction of 40 acres next to the oil refinery site in Green River at the end of May. Huntington City is close to finalizing the acquisition of the land purchase. Torgerson also reported a small raise in grazing fees on SITLA land.
Daren Olsen from the Manti-La Sal National Forest Service reports 30 trails that are be upgraded to 66” wide to allow for large UTV travel. Work has begun on the Des Bee Dove Trail. He also reported road conditions, gate closures and openings will be posted on Facebook. A forest planning meeting will be scheduled in June concerning bouldering activities.
A very busy season for camping in state campgrounds was reported by Jonathan Hunt with the State Parks Department. Goblin Valley is fully booked until July; all other campgrounds are open and filling up fast. Green River is hosting a golf tournament the end of April and the state park will also fill fast. The Green River is expected to have high waters this year but preparation has been done in hopes that flooding will be limited this year.
Ron Dean, a representative from Senator Orrin Hatch’s office, reports that the Senator’s top three priorities are the same as President Trumps: Get Judge Neil Gorsuch confirmed, repeal the affordable care act and tax reformation. Senator Hatch works very closely with President Trump and feels that lands issues in the western United States are important to the president.
Mike Stowell from Congressman Jason Chaffetz’s office echoed Dean’s remarks and added the Department of Justice has not given a clear answer on the issue of rescinding, so no action has been taken. He too feels that President Trump will have a positive impact on rural Utah.