“Please come to the open house on Thursday, March the 12th from 5-7 p.m. at the Senior Citizens Center. Come with comments, written and or spoken. Show our county planners that WE CARE about the Nine Mile Country and it’s future”
Range Creek, Tavaputs, and Nine Mile Canyon By Joan Powell
Recently, this past February, I was invited to sit on a committee to discuss wilderness designation in our county. Most everyone knows how I feel about wilderness, and for me, the land becomes “nothing land” once it’s designated wilderness. I know there are those who would argue the “nothing land” concept with me, but being a coal miner’s daughter, and having a brother who works in the coal mines, a husband who is employed at the power plant, and a son who is works in the gas-oil fields, and personally, myself, who enjoys motorized recreation, I feel that a lot of land becomes locked up that could a lot more beneficial to human-kind, if it wasn’t locked away under wilderness designation. It seems to me that the trend is….”if it isn’t private, then it needs some kind of a designation on it”. And the more EXTREME the designation the happier the Environmentalists and the E.P.A. seems to like it. Unfortunately, there is a new GOLDEN RULE, “he who has the most gold, makes the rules”. Am I the only one that feels like that, when it comes to SUWA and Sierra Club, and the others?
I hope you will take time to thank Rex Sacco for spearheading and facilitating the course of the discussions that led to the decisions that I think we can live with. Yes, it was hard for me to agree to the “give up to gain” concept that the environmentalists wanted to see happen. Don’t get me wrong, I do think there are some areas that deserve protection….but I cringe A LOT when “buffer zones” are discussed. Anyway, I want to tell you who sat on this committee, and include a couple of paragraphs of wording that was the conclusion, and invite you to come to an open house to share YOUR feelings.
With that said….I wanted to share an excerpt from the proposal, but just know, there is more…..Please come to the open house to learn more. Oh, I guess I need to explain the why’s and what-for’s that this has come about. Congressman Bishop is taking back to Congress, county by county, what the feelings are from the stakeholders in the local areas. It’s called a Public Lands Initiative. It is the hopes to put the land grab for Wilderness to bed, forever, if that’s possible. Those who sat in on this committee were: Rex Sacco, Carbon County Land Use Planner, Dave Levanger, County Director of Planning/Building Official, Alan Peterson, local businessman and outdoor recreationalist, Butch and Jeanie Jensen, owners of the Tavaputs Ranch, Blair Eastman, Hunt Oil Representative and Nutter Ranch Representative, Mark Angus, Evervest Corp., Clyde McCourt, cattleman/land grazer, Joan Powell, Mayor and motorized recreationalist, Sue Bellagamba, Nature Conservancy Representative, Marcia Argus, Pew Charitable Trusts, Kelsey Berg, Congressman Chaffetz Staff, John Andrews, Sitla, Melissa Lasslo , Jordan Behunin, and Doris Johnston, County Staff, Lowell Braxton, Western Energy Alliance, Wade Garrett and Casey Snider from Congressman Bishop’s Staff.
Here is the excerpt: Range Creek National Historic Conservation Area
Congress finds that in order to protect the archeology, cultural, historic, and the natural resources values of the upper section of Range Creek Canyon, a management area shall be designated. The continuation of unmanaged fires on almost an annual basis in the adjacent Wilderness Study Areas, validates the need to manage BLM lands adjacent to Range Creek Canyon for reduction in the incidence of catastrophic fire. To accomplish this, it is necessary that the existing historic and cultural uses of this area be maintained, and at times used at a higher level. This need prompts Congress to create a designation mandating a management protocol to memorized these uses with more flexibility, and to remove conflicts to the accomplishment of fire protection management.
The federal BLM lands around Range Creek Canyon serve as a boundary to this scientific educational and visitation area. Range Creek Canyon has been recognized for its unique historic and cultural features by the Smithsonian Institute. The State of Utah allows tours for the public by private businesses and the local county recreational departments which promotes economic development. Providers offer guided vehicular visits through Range Creek. Group tours stop at a variety of locations to view rock art, granaries, and other features of interest along the thirteen-mile route to the historic Wilcox Ranch, and the current Range Creek Field Station Headquarters. It is also hailed as one of the foremost archeological education areas fore the now extinct Freemont Indian Culture.
Again this is just one excerpt from the whole proposal. Many things were discussed including John Andrews concern that there are SITLA lands locked up under the WSA’s, and his desire that those lands be traded out for other sections that are more beneficial for the SITLA program.
I made the statement in the County Trails Meeting earlier in the month, that I would fight for the Horse Bench route until the day I died. So it came as a pleasant surprise that I would be asked to sit in on this committee, knowing I could fight for it some more. I was delighted to hear the stakeholders whose loss would be greater than mine, be supportive of me being out there enjoying a great ride. However, my hopes were somewhat dashed when I learned that Uintah County had “given up” as part of the “give up to gain concept” the bottom end of Nine Mile Creek to wilderness designation. Uintah County Commissioners got a nasty letter from me the very night when I learned about it. I did get one phone call back from one of the county commissioners, and I don’t have the space in this letter to go into the details of that conversation. Just know I wasn’t happy with what I learned.
We learned a lot about the National Conservation Area designations. It seems to be a GOOD thing as it allows flexibility for the future use of the lands. We proposed Nine Mile Canyon to be a National Conservation Area. Be aware, the environmental movement does not agree with this, so there is opposition. You needed to be at the Carbon County Planning and Zoning meeting to hear their words. They were a little put out that they weren’t on the committee……well guess what? We accomplished what we set out to do, in a very short time. We didn’t have the luxury of dragging this out for years and years trying to please people who are never pleased. We wouldn’t have been able to with “environmentalists picking apart every sentence.
The bottom line is…..we want the West Tavaputs Plateau to have the access that the stakeholders needs it to have. It is a prime location for energy development. It is historically ranching country. It is full of wonder, amazement, and spectacular scenery and wildlife for ALL to enjoy. We GAVE the environmentalists Desolation Canyon….you can’t access it with 2 or 4 TIRES on the ground. They, (the environmentalists) wanted more….they wanted the “buffer zones” to inhibit you, me, and those who call it home, or make a living on it, to be unable to have access to what is there, FOREVER!
Please, Please, Please come to the open house on Thursday, March the 12th from 5-7 p.m. at the Senior Citizens Center. Come with comments, written and or spoken. Show our county planners that WE CARE about the Nine Mile Country and it’s future, and that we are grateful for their willingness to listen to the REAL stakeholders…..I will never forget Blair Eastman telling Marcia Argust from Pew Charitable Trusts,
“We can manage the land better than you can“.