By Julie Johansen
Emery County Public Lands Council Chairman Rod Player opened the council’s meeting on Tuesday with a word of thanks. In remembrance of Pearl Harbor Day, he expressed his appreciation for the freedoms that we have because of those who fought to preserve it in conflicts like Pearl Harbor.
Player then notified attendees that as chair of the committee, he signed three letters of support. One was for the Forest Service as they apply for a grant to purchase a mini excavator to improve trails as well as rent a trail cat. The other two letters were to support the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) for large grants to improve and memorialize the former CCC Camp at Willow Springs south of I-70 as well as to build barriers of protection around campgrounds.
Kyle Beagley, BLM, then began the agency reports to the council. He reported the status of 23 active NEPA (National Environmental Protection Act) projects. The Hornshadow Solar Project has been signed and an announcement is expected. He then spoke about the Debris Basin above Orangeville that seems to have been abandoned with the discontinued use of the canals. He wondered who would maintain it or take care of it.
Beagley then stated that the parcels of land exchange determined by the Dingell Act have been completed but the legal process is continuing. He also announced the passing of Karl Ivory, who worked for the Forest Service in Price for 35 years. He requested that if anyone had memories or pictures of Ivory to contact him as he is spearheading a memorial for the family.
Steve Christensen, Department of Oil, Gas and Mining (DOGM), then thanked Emery County, especially Cory Worwood, for their help with Tamarisk eradication. He also reported that clean up following the August floods at several mines is either continuing or finished. Bear Canyon Mine is restored, but Deer Creek and Hiawatha are working on the repairs needed. The mine closures at Buckmaster have been completed and the JCI well at Skyline Mine is coming online.
Chris Wood, Department of Wildlife, remarked that the bridge at the Hatt Ranch, which burned several years ago, has been repaired and will be open for public use shortly. The department biologists have been capturing, testing and banding bighorn sheep in the Swinging Bridge area as well as mule deer on the Manti-La Sal Forest. They have been testing for migration routes, habitat and the condition of the animals. The bighorn sheep numbers both on the north and south San Rafael seem to be steady. At an upcoming RAC meeting, the use of trail cameras for hunting will be discussed. Wood was then told that the fishing on the Ferron Drainage is almost extinct and questioned if the Department of Wildlife can help with this. He replied that restocking has seen a reduction.
Bryan Torgerson, School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration, announced that acres of state-owned land are being put up for sale. This is southeast of Ferron in the Moore area.
Darren Olsen, Forest Service, remarked that Christmas tree permits are still being sold online, at Main Street Market in Ferron and at Castle Valley Supply in Huntington. Firewood permits are no longer available as the deadline was Nov. 30. If anyone has smelled or seen smoke in the air, Olsen said it was because they have been burning back spots on the southeast of Trail Mountain, which includes about 50 or 60 acres in preparation for bigger burns later. They have also been cleaning up debris piles left from timber sales.
Olson then announced that Bill Broadbear will be retiring and that his position will be filled in the coming months. He was next questioned about the destruction of the Watermaster Cabin in Huntington Canyon. The remarks were that it is a historical monument located in a recreational area. The comparison was made to the Ranger Station Cabins owned by the Forest Service. Ranger Olsen replied that it was in bad condition and seemed to had served its purpose.
Jim Wells, Goblin Valley Park Manager, spoke on the camping expansions at both Goblin Valley and Green River State Parks. They are also trying to get power at Goblin Valley, but it is costly and being delayed because of funding. Hopefully, in 2022, this issue can be resolved. It was also announced that Millsite will play host to a two-day ice fishing tournament in mid-January. Wells concluded by informing all that the park ranger position for Huntington North will be available in January and Scofield State Park will remain open all winter.
Next, Ryan Jones, Utah State Agriculture Resource Manager, announced a Castle Valley Crop School in Price on Feb. 2. It will be sponsored by the San Rafael Conservation District.
Finally, the decision was made by the council to keep the same meeting schedule for 2022. Chairman Player also announced that there are two vacancies on the council that will be filled by the Emery County Commissioners within the next month.