By Julie Johansen
Emery County Public Lands Council Chairman Rod Player began Tuesday’s council by reading a letter of resignation submitted to the council from Lauren Huntsman. Huntsman gave his reason as work involvement and thanked the council for the time they worked together.
Player also reminded other council members that some of their terms are ending as of December 2022. He invited them to reapply, if interested, and stated that these positions would be advertised in the newspaper. He also shared his interest in a newly-released book, “The Greater San Rafael Swell,” which was written by Stephen Strom and Jonathan Bailey. He encouraged all to read it.
Emery County Commissioner Kent Wilson then reported to the council that they would be asked to help with rewriting the Emery County General Plan.
The agencies then began their reports, starting with Kyle Beagley from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). He stated that the new dinosaur sculptures have been installed at the Jurassic National Monument (Cleveland-Lloyd Dinosaur Quarry) and more interpretive work is planned for next year. He was then questioned about the name and if it will change. The consensus was that it would still probably be the dinosaur quarry inside Jurassic National Monument. He reported the signage will also be changing. No decision on the access road has been made.
Beagley also reported on the emergency situation at the Lila Canyon Mine. A quick environmental assessment was made and more drilling has begun to extinguish the fire. There has been a concern about flooding, but the area of the fire has been found and foam is being used to block that area.
The next announcement Beagley made was that the final decision was announced on Friday about the San Rafael Travel Plan, which can be found on the BLM’s webpage. There is a 30-day comment period for the decision. He also spoke about vandalism on the desert and how they are working to try to stop these actions.
Next, Steve Christensen from the Division of Oil, Gas, and Mining reported that statewide drilling is up by nearly 20%, but there are no new wells in Emery County. He also spoke about the fire at Lila Canyon Mine and said that fire suppression is the top priority. Christensen added that they are doing what they can to help with the fire. He also reported that there have been some requests at Hidden Valley, but it will require a new permit before any action can be taken.
Justin Hart from the Division of Wildlife Resources then reported a very successful youth pheasant hunt. He also said that there seems to be more bucks in this year’s hunt, probably due to 1,300 less permits issued. He reported some trouble during the hunt with trespassing on private lands.
Hart continued, announcing that they are collaring does and fawns on Horn Mountain. Also, fish netting at Joe’s Valley showed that the muskie count was down but trout numbers are up as well as the size of the fish. He also announced that Emery County native Kyler Stilson will be now working full-time for the division, testing for quagga muscles on boats.
Next, Brian Torgersen, a representative from the School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration, reported that a state appraiser has been found so that land exchanges from the Dingell Act can begin. He also stated that the land that was auctioned last spring would again be available on the website. He also announced that land just west of Green River has been requested for a uranium refinery. Finally, he said that expansion of the Sego Canyon parking lot is being considered for safety reasons with the influx of its use. This will be team effort with other agencies.
Forest Service Ranger Kevin Albrecht then reported that the burn on Trail Mountain is complete. The burn consisted of 878 acres and was 50% successful. With the Great American Outdoors Act funding, work is continuing on forest campsites. Albrecht also said that discard piles will be burned when snow comes. Finally, Christmas tree permits will be sold online or at the Forest Service office, not at local stores as in previous years.
State Parks representative Nathan Martinez then reported that the airstrip at Goblin Valley will remain open. He also stated that the Green River Golf Course is still open and tournaments have been held recently. He also said that State Park campgrounds have been very busy during October.
Martinez then turned the time over to Brian Kurts with the State Recreation Department. He announced a grant writing workshop that will be held on Nov. 14 at the administration building in Castle Dale. He also spoke about state grants that would be available. These include outdoor recreation, recreation restoration and the recreational trails programs, which could very helpful to many groups.
The final item for discussion was HB 180, which requires licensing of OHV operators if the machine is street legal. This test can be taken online and is for operators age 18 and older. This is a one-time test and will be required for out-of-state operators as well. This will be in effect after January 1, 2023. Organized trail rides will be exempt.
To conclude, Kelsey Burg and Larry Ellerton from the Washington Delegation both stated that not much was happening in Washington D.C. at this time. However, President Biden just designated another National Monument in Colorado.