By Julie Johansen
Redge Johnson from the Governor’s Public Lands Public Coordinating Office (PLIPCO) explained the roadless rules conditions of the Forest Service during the Emery County Public Lands meeting on Tuesday. He stated that half of Forest Service ground is roadless and the office is working on state-specific roadless rules. This would help the Forest Service to evenly distribute roads for timber harvest. The service’s main goal is to keep areas in a natural state, but also manageable.
Next, Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Director Chris Conrad acknowledged the beneficial relationship of the Price BLM Office with Emery County. He went on to explain that may of the environmental assessments are nearing completion and will have signatures in the coming days. The Good Water Rim Trail should be signed within two weeks. The Bronco Mine right-of-way EA will be signed this week as will SUFCO and Lila Canyon. Grazing applications have been set back by the furlough but look like they could be 100% because of the moisture in the area this winter. He said that the BLM has no opinion on the Emery County Lands Bill and can have no input. He concluded by stating that that the BLM travel plan has not been completed yet for Wilderness Study Areas.
A representative from the Division of Wildlife Resources then reminded that the big game application for the coming season ends on March 7. Also, those wanting to participate in the shed antler hunt need to take a test online and then print off a certificate.
Daren Olsen of the Forest Service continued the meeting by stating that the canyon gates remain open and will be until it becomes muddy in March or April. He did warn of avalanche danger. The furlough of the national government has set back the completion of the Forest Service’s plan. He also announced timber sales on Black and Reeder canyons. When he was asked who is responsible for reclamation of the timber harvest areas, he said that the companies who make the harvests are responsible and bonded to do so.
Next, Larry Johansen of the State Parks explained the expansion of the Millsite campground and golf course. The hope is to have this new area up and running by June. Eight new power locations are included in the expansion.
Romel Nicholas, formerly from Senator Orrin Hatch’s office, then spoke to the council and audience about his involvement with the Emery Country Public Lands Bill. He stated that the closure vote in the Senate had happened and now debate was suspended. He did warn that there are considerable foes in the House to overcome. He then commended the council for the quality of the bill and advancing the bill this far.
Commissioner Kent Wilson explained the commission’s decision to have the early meeting on Monday morning. According to Wilson, the commissioners had to make sure that not one mile of road would be closed. Their integrity was worth more than the bill, he said. So, on Saturday, the commission decided a public meeting was needed. According to the Utah Open Public Meetings Act, the commission needed to give 24-hour notice and have it posted, which they did, Wilson explained. Also, the decision needed to be made before 9 a.m., Washington D.C. time, on Monday morning.