By Julie Johansen
Rod Player was elected chairman and Edward Geary as vice chairman of the Emery County Public Lands Council Tuesday morning. They will hold these offices for only one year as the chairmanship was vacated by the resignation of Mistie Christiansen. She will remain on the council.
Various agencies and committee reports were given after opening statements by chairman Player.
Bureau of Land Management representative Ahmed Mohsen discussed the Master Leasing Plan of the San Rafael Desert. There has been a moratorium on any leasing because of the controversy in this area. Mohsen informed the council that a contracting company would be hired to do this as much expertise is needed in this area. He asked for input from the council. Upon completion of this work, public hearings will be held. Leasing litigation has been in limbo for some time, so there needs to be a decision soon as to whether leasing will or will not be available in this area.
Travel Management Plans in this area also need to be finalized. Public meetings with regards to this issue have already been held. The BLM will handle the study of this issue. Mohsen stressed the importance of finalizing these two issues at the same time, as they are so closely tied together.
Mohsen also reported the sad news that vandalism is on the increase on the rock art panels in our area. Many of these panels are unique to Emery County and need to be preserved for the history and heritage found there. He requested that council members as well as citizens make a big effort to watch, take pictures and report any vandalism immediately to law enforcement or the BLM office.
Water engineer Mark Stilson reported that structure work has begun on the dam at Millsite and that repairs will start this fall. He also noted repair work at the Tushar Dam in Green River.
Forest Service personnel stated that planning is beginning again in all areas of the Forest Service. When he was asked who makes the decisions, he replied that field offices have input and make some decisions but that major decisions come from the Washington Office.
Stilson also reported that some campgrounds in the burn-scar in Huntington Canyon, from the Left Fork to Electric Lake, would be reopened next season. However, some areas still have a lot of debris, preventing some camping.
Both the Forest Service and BLM are accepting applications for seasonal employment for anyone over 18 at this time. January and February are the best times to apply.
Washington Delegation staff member Kelsey Berg reported on legislation that is pending. They expect things to happen more efficiently with House Speaker Paul Ryan. The Public Lands Initiative is still being looked over word-for-word in Congressman Rob Bishop’s office but should soon be ready for presentation to the legislature in Washington, D.C.
The Mexican wolf expansion continues to push further north, but both state and local officials have voiced opposition to this.
Other agencies on the agenda were not present at the meeting.