The first order of business for the Emery County Public Lands Council in the new year of 2018 was the election of officers. A motion was made by councilman J.R. Nelson to put the current chairman Rod Player and vice chairman Ed Geary in by acclamation. This was approved unanimously.
Chairman Player then read the mission statement of the Public Lands Council to the members and audience. The mission statement included the purpose for the council, which states that they are to represent the public land interests of the citizens of Emery County. Its further purpose is to be an advocate for local users and stakeholders and work in partnership with the federal and state agencies in decisions and policies that affect land within the county. This is to provide harmony between the objectives of these various entities and the general plan of Emery County. It is the intent and purpose of the council to preserve the heritage of the county by participating in and influencing all planning and decision making processes of the Emery County Commission.
Randy Johnson then reported that very little has been done since last meeting in Washington DC, except increase government spending to keep the government working and pass the tax reform law. The Emery County Land Bill is in working format and the Utah Congressional delegation is looking it over to be ready to present it to the Legislature. He further stated that Emery County is a great example of how to accomplish public land issues with regards to what has recently transpired in national government. Council members agreed that the window of opportunity for protection in the area is now.
Water issues were also a large concern at the meeting. Mark Stilson, Utah State Water Engineer, addressed not only the lack of water (snow) at this this time, but the water bills facing the Utah Congress. These bills deal with providing water outside of the municipalities and instream flow issues being addressed by Trout Unlimited.
Councilman Ward also presented the water content percentages, which are very minimal in the drainage areas – 7% to 11%. Public Lands Administrator Ray Peterson gave a report of a recent Colorado River drainage meeting he attended in Las Vegas. He stated that the majority of the participants, such as Las Vegas, Phoenix and California, are from the downstream drainage area and want every drop sent their way. A comment made at the meeting was “Water flows downstream and toward money.”
Daren Olsen then introduced Sarah Herrera, a new archaeological team member for the Forest Service. He reported on the 30,000 acre fuel project that goes from White Mountain on the South to Potter’s Pond on the North. This includes the forest destruction, timber sales and control burns. The thistle infestation was also addressed. This sometimes seems indomitable, but crews work on it every year.