Emery County Public Lands Council Receives Updates, Gives Report

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Emery County Public Lands Chairman Rod Player opened Tuesday’s meeting by reminding everyone about the Joe’s Valley Bouldering Festival October 6-9. Registration is now open and if done early is only $30 before the fee is raised to $35. He reminded all that this is the second annual festival and is an exciting event for all to watch. It is free for spectators.

The draft of the Huntington Creek Watershed Plan was discussed for inclusion into the Emery County General Plan. Council member Edward Geary made a motion to recommend the plan to the Planning Commission with comment considerations. Those comments included questioning the timings listed, grazing and contributories of the drainage.

The BLM’s Jacob Palma was the first agency to report to the council. He announced new managers; Ed Robertson at the state level and Gary Torres at the district level. Torres will be at the Vernal office. There are also two new assistant field managers in the Price office in Amber Kosky and Don Stephens.

A comment meeting regarding some new projects including the Molen Reef will be held September 14. The BLM is working with the Forest Service to complete the EA on the pipeline to help dissipate the water out of the closed Deer Creek mine. It was also reported that the Master Leasing Plan for oil and gas in the San Rafael Desert should be finished in two weeks.

Water engineer Mark Stilson reported that it would be several years before the water in Deer Creek would reach a level high enough to dispense out of the mine.

The Division of Wildlife Resources reported a waterfowl clinic on Sept. 24 at the Desert Lake Waterfowl Area. This will be for everyone, especially families. Several stations will be set up including hunting, bird identification, duck calling and decoys. The DWR will be teaming with Ducks Unlimited in this clinic. Gill netting will take place on Oct. 7 at Electric Lake and Oct. 13 at Joe’s Valley Reservoir.  The nets are put in one day and taken out the next. When questioned about the effects of the salinity sprinkler projects on waterfowl areas, the response was that the lack of drainage has made a significant shortage.

SITLA’s Brian Torgersen reminded of a public auction to be held Oct. 19 in Salt Lake City. There are 12 parcels of ground but none of them are in Emery County. There are a few in Carbon County. He also stated that a letter of intent has been signed with a solar firm for its pending development at the industrial park near Green River. A company that is interested in capturing the methane gas from West Ridge Mine near Sunnyside for a new technology venture approached SITLA. Torgersen commended the Huntington Power Plant’s cleanup of coal dust that scattered across road saying, “They did a great job.”

Forest Service District Ranger Darren Olsen noted planning meetings being held this week at eight different locations including Price and Castle Dale. They are hoping to gather input on affected conditions such as soil or air to help outline their management. He reported several small lightning fires on the Manti-La Sal Forest. The Porcupine fire in Sanpete County is managed and covers about 2,200 acres. It is expected to burn itself out soon as most of the dead fall has been burned. They are working on getting trails back into operation following the Seeley Fire. Pole Canyon Trail is now open.

Timber production is going on near Trough Springs with approximately 12 loads of mine timbers being harvested a day.

“Camping areas have been overloaded during this camping season,” said Utah State Parks representative Jonathan Hunt. The visitor growth has also been tremendous over the last year at state parks. A fishing tournament will be held at Millsite on September 24 and the ATV Jamboree is scheduled for next week.

Aaron Farmer from Green River State Park reported a busy Labor Day there as well. Goblin Valley has received its Dark Sky Recognition and a party will be held on Oct.1 at 7:30 p.m. Goblin Valley had blown the roof off with visitor numbers. It has been a record-breaking year.

A representative from Congressman Rob Bishop’s office report that a hearing on the PLI is scheduled for September 14.

Following these agency reports, council members made their reports:

Mark H. Williams showed brochures being published and distributed by the Travel Council about several trails open in Emery County.

Geary reported on the considerations underway for rejuvenating the Old Spanish Trail.

Sherrel Ward expressed concern over the limited amount of water storage in area reservoirs going into fall. Capacity percentages range from 30% to 70%.

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