San Juan County Commissioners question statements from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) that there are 30,000 archaeological sites on BLM land in the county.
During a report by County Planner Nick Sandberg at the September 6 Commission meeting, the BLM’s cataloging and inventorying of 30,000 archeological sites was brought up.
Commissioner Phil Lyman said he wanted to know if there is any way these sites could be qualified as to significance. “If there are really 30,000 sites, then let’s go visit them,” said Lyman.
Commissioner Bruce Adams said, “This inventory is just another tool to shut down the county.”
Lyman encouraged county officials to do what they can to slow down this new effort to immobilize the County’s economic growth through land control.
Commissioner Lyman discussed the County’s legal defense fund as it relates to the proposed Bears Ears National Monument.
Lyman said a group of attorneys believe the legality of the entire issue should be argued before the U.S. Supreme Court.
Lyman added that the State of Utah and many counties in the United States are interested in the issue, stating that they also are negatively impacted by the Executive Branch’s inappropriate use of current laws.
Lyman suggested the County consider budgeting funds and exploring this option further.
Commissioners expressed appreciation to the public for their activity in the current political arena. “I am very impressed with the activism and passion of the public in voicing their opinions about the Bears Ears Monument,” said Commissioner Adams.
Commissioner Rebecca Benally said, “Those opposing the Monument are uniting, with families opposed coming together, while those in favor of the Monument seem to be dividing families and Chapters.”
In other matters at the September 6 meeting, a Road Department lease on several pieces of equipment will be expiring, and the county is trying to decide how to proceed.
The initial lease, through the state leasing program, charged the county $900 a year for a backhoe. The price recently increased to $6,500 per year. Whether to purchase or lease was discussed.
Commissioners concluded it is better to wait until December, when new leasing programs are released, and see what the State offers before formalizing plans to obtain new equipment.
It was also proposed that the Road Department purchase and stockpile rip rap for an upcoming project in Montezuma Canyon.
Commissioner Lyman suggested the department prepare a statistical report on road projects, maintenance done and the overall status of roads maintained by the county.
Randy Rarick, County Landfill manager, received permission to participate in a state program to remove used tires for recycling. The county share to participate is $2,000.
Rarick said the landfill will no longer accept appliances whose refrigerant has not been removed by a licensed professional.
County Librarian Pat Smith received approval to attend a Rural Library Association Conference in North Dakota.
Commissioners also approved a new part time position in the Blanding Library for $10.71 an hour for 20 hours a week.
Commissioners expressed appreciation to interim Public Heath Director Rick Meyer for his work. Meyer’s salary was adjusted to account for his new responsibilities.
In other county matters, Commissioner Rebecca Benally is in Washington, DC this week to testify before Congress on the Public Land Initiative (PLI).
Ground is being broken this week for the new $5.2 million public health building in Blanding.
The Community Impact Board (CIB) pledged $2.5 million to the Spanish Valley Water District to drill a deep well near Kens Lake and install a distribution trunk line in Spanish Valley with a $600,000 loan and a $1.9 million grant.