Public Lands Issues Addressed and Attacked by Public Lands Council

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By Julie Johansen

The Emery County Public Lands meeting on Tuesday began with a presentation by Susan White, a project manager from the Salt Lake office of the Division Oil, Gas and Mining. The presentation was entitled “Abandon Mines Closure Project, Buckmaster Draw II.”

White began by explaining that this was the second part of the Buckmaster Project and that the OIG was completed last fall. They are trying to safeguard 51 hazardous and abandoned uranium mines. There will be no reclamation on the landscape, which is on private, Bureau of Land Management, and School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration properties.

She explained that the inventory has been completed regarding cultural, bat and paleontological aspects of the mines. White showed pictures of how these mines will be closed by using grates, rocks and stone walls while safeguarding the historical nature.

Many of the council members asked her to preserve the mine life and history surrounding these abandoned mines. The public lands council decided to take a trip to see how this is being accomplished. The tour will be on Monday, June 14 and those interested should meet at the Hanksville Junction at 9 a.m.

Following the presentation, Emery County Public Lands Chairman Rod Player returned to the beginning of the agenda and gave his comments. They included the work that been accomplished to circumvent the beaver dams on the north end of Salt Wash. Everyone who visited seem satisfied with the results, but a new gate still is needed in the area.

Player then spoke about the signage and road blockage in Cane Wash that leads to the wilderness areas. Recognizing and addressing these two problems and the group working to solve them is what the Emery County Public Lands Council is all about.

Chris Conrad next introduced Kyle Beagley, who recently joined the staff at the Bureau of Land Management. His duties will include lands and minerals. Beagley stated that the travel management plan is top priority in the Price Field Office. He also spoke about the land exchanges necessary to meet the Dingell Act specifications, which will probably include at least 100 parcels. The work load at the Price office has surged and they are busy strategizing how to proceed in order to accomplish it all.

Conrad also reported that average visitation at the Jurassic Monument is over 200 per week. The Millsite land exchange is being addressed and is moving forward. The Skyline Mine EIS is being worked on and Bronco mine EA is completed. He also stated that the Dam Safety Office has several areas of concern with the Joe’s Valley Dam.

Chris Wood, Division of Wildlife Resources, reported that about 50-70 head of bison are on top of Tavaputs at this time. More aggressive attempts are being made to correct this problem. They are considering letting land owners harvest these animals as long as the meat is salvaged and not wasted. They have a list of people who would like the meat.

The division has also placed a seasonal worker on the top of Tavaputs to identify where and when the bison appear. The hunt will begin on Aug. 1 and go until January. When asked about depredation permits, Wood replied that they could not do this on regulated land.

The Forest Service warned that if you go camping in the forest, you should plan on bringing water as the springs in the campgrounds are very low and could stop at any time. Usage of the campgrounds is also very high and spots fill up as soon as they are opened.

The Utah State Parks announced that with Larry Johansen’s retirement, Brian Kurt will be running the Huntington, Millsite and Scofield state parks. Nathan Martinez is the new park ranger at Green River State Park and Jim Wells is at Goblin Valley. They also announced park expansions at the Millsite campground and in Green River.

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