Emery County’s Land Bill Nears Introduction to Congress with Full Support

By Julie Johansen

Emery County Public Lands Chairman Rod Player began the meeting on Tuesday morning paying tribute to the former Utah Division of Parks and Recreation Director, Fred Hayes, who recently passed away.

Next, Randy Johnson reported on the status of the Emery County Public Lands Bill. He explained that the bill is very close to being introduced to Congress, probably within the next four to six weeks. According to Johnson, congressmen appear to be on board and supportive of this legislation. Senator Orrin Hatch has given it priority to being passed while he is still in office.

Jake Palma of the Bureau of Land Management discussed the importance of all agencies working together to overcome the obstacles that occur with regard to land use management. He reported that travel management planning is beginning to consider the San Rafael Desert. Palma also reported that the Natural Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process for Joe’s Valley is completed, signed and work has begun both on BLM and Forest Service lands. When questioned regarding the horse gathering on Muddy Creek, he replied the NEPA documents are in Washington, DC.

John Rogers, Division of Oil, Gas and Mining (DOGM) Associate Director, introduced a new GIS coordinator, Mr. Thompson, at the meeting. He said that the Green Hollow lease has been granted for a ten-year term. Although most of the lease is in Sevier County, it certainly has favorable economic impact in Emery County. He reported that oil prices have risen from about $20 to $62 and that the economy is picking up in the Basin. He explained horizontal drilling and the advantages being less surface disturbance and the longer distance of surface exploration of about two miles.

Wildlife officials are still dealing with the bison on the federal lands from the reservation. One solution is improvements to the Turtle Canyon Road to make the area more accessible. The fishing limit at Millsite Reservoir (16 fish) has been extended for several more months. It was reported that the construction on the campground at Millsite is on schedule and will be ready by April 1. More development is also being considered, possibly in the form of cabins and yerts.

Huntington North is ready for reservations for Easter while Green River State Park is already filling up. The first golf tournament in Green River will be Saturday, March 10 and is a three man scramble. New restrooms have been installed at the GR State Park.

Congressman John Curtis’ representative, Lori Faulks, restated that Curtis is committed to Emery County’s Public Lands Bill. Congressman Curtis will be hosting local town hall meetings on Friday, including a meeting at 5:30 p.m. in Castle Dale and another at 7:30 p.m. in Price.

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