By Julie Johansen
The Emery Public Lands Council met on Tuesday afternoon. The meeting was called to order by Chairman Rod Player, and following the approval of the minutes from the July 5 council meeting, Chairman Player made three announcements.
First, he announced that there will be a meeting on Aug. 11 at the Red Seep to discuss a mountain bike trail on Little Cedar Mountain. Another meeting of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Resource Advisory Council will take place at the county administration building at 8:30 a.m. on Aug. 29. There are three open positions on the board as members representing Native Americans, as well as motorized and non-motorized groups are needed. These nominations are due by Aug. 18. His last announcement was the planned field trip on Oct. 4 to Goblin Valley. This trip will take the place of the regularly scheduled October public lands meeting.
Emery County Commissioner Kent Wilson then asked for a report from Mark Boshell of the Public Lands Policy Coordination Office about the San Rafael Travel Management Plan. Boshell reported that they spent time reviewing the routes and trails that were under reconsideration. He stated that they want to work closely with Emery County and follow their recommendations. Boshell also said that it was a tough spot for the BLM because of the litigation settlement agreement between the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance and the BLM.
Kyle Beagley of the BLM then announced that there is now a shop at the Jurassic Monument and sculptures will be placed there in late September. There will be a meeting on the road site at the first culvert on Wednesday, Aug. 3, at 9 a.m. A large bone was found locally and will also be on display at the monument. Beagley then spoke about the permits issued to the “Horizon” film production. He also reminded the council about the meeting at the Red Seep on Aug. 11. Beagley said that they expect a final decision of the San Rafael Desert Travel Management Plan by late September, which gives two extra weeks for the comment period. To conclude, he announced that the BLM has trail work scheduled for Sept. 12-14.
Dana Dean of the Division of Oil, Gas, and Mining then addressed the council virtually. She requested a mine plan with changes from the Bear Canyon Project. Emery County Commissioner Lynn Sitterud said he would handle this request.
Chris Wood, Department of Wildlife Resources (DWR), next spoke to the council. He said that they are 100% committed to wildlife habitat, but will agree with mitigation permits in regard to the filming permits and travel across DWR land in Fullers Bottom. He also said that requests for licenses are at an all-time high and fees have increased.
Wood’s report on bison included the removal of bison from private land. One private landowner wants to make a bison reserve and not have any bison removed, while another landowner wants them all removed. Wood reported that the over-the-counter bison hunt started on Aug. 1. The first year of the hunt, 125 bison were removed, but only 10 were removed in the second year. An elk commission is established and a bear commission is being formed. To conclude, he reported that Kyler Stilson is a new employer for the DWR.
Next, Darren Olsen, Forest Service, spoke first about a meeting for guide outfitters and communications with outfitters. He then reported that timber crews are preparing for timber sales and the north Manti-La Sal range improvement has been completed. Olsen said that the fire season has been really good for this area as the mountains are green. Even though there have been lightning strikes, small fires have been put out in short time. The Great American Outdoors Act funding has been used to make improvements in forest campgrounds.
Goblin Valley State Park Manager Jim Wells announced installation of new signage now that the property has been conveyed. He also reported that the larger campground at the park has been delayed for at least another 18 months. In addition, law enforcement has been increased.
Wells continued, stating that the old trails plans are being edited and hope to be changed to include equestrian and OHV trails. He has also been working with archaeologists on trail clearings. Disc golf is also available at the park. There has been a 16% reduction in visitors and the 2022 season has been calm, Wells concluded. Addi Healy with the Department of Agriculture wrapped up the reports by announcing that the Water Optimization Grant deadline is Sept. 1.