The basic framework for the effort was unanimously approved by Commissioners at the November 26 Commission meeting.
The agreement states that the county and Navajo Nation will “work together in the spirit of mutual respect and cooperation to recognize and consider how to effectively manage the outstanding natural, cultural and recreational resources on state and federal lands in San Juan County, as well as the socio-economic conditions for the enhancement of the quality of life for all San Juan County residents.”
The document outlines specific preferred outcomes, including:
• Enhance management of cultural and natural resources of importance to the Navajo, the County, and the general public;
• Enhance opportunities for economic and cultural development on lands in San Juan County;
• Reduce conflict and increase certainty over land and resource management, including wilderness and access issues on public lands;
• Improve communications and collaboration between the Navajo and the County in the management of federal lands within the County; and
• Enhance access to financial resources to support long-term achievement of the above objectives and desired outcomes.
A working group will meet in coming weeks to begin an 18-month process that will “coordinate and collaborate... on current issues and land-planning efforts.”
Former Commissioner Mark Maryboy and Dennis Sizemore, executive director of Round River, helped coordinate the process.
Commissioners praised the efforts of the group. Commissioner Phil Lyman said it is gratifying to “take a concept and put it into a formal setting.”
Lyman said there has been “a lot of give and take.”
Mark Maryboy explains, “Navajos have always felt that the local people, whether they be Navajo or non-Navajo, should be at the forefront of discussing public lands.”
Maryboy added that the proposed Greater Canyonlands National Monument effort, which has received support from a variety of national groups, should begin as a local effort.
“San Juan County should take the lead, with local people, regarding Canyonlands expansion,” said Maryboy. “We look forward to a very positive, open relationship and think the citizens of San Juan County will be happy with the outcome.”
Commissioner Bruce Adams said it was an outrage that the Outdoor Retailers, who recently signaled support for the Greater Canyonlands proposal, bypassed any local input on the matter.
“President Obama and Secretary Salazar have both said that any public lands efforts would begin at the ground up,” said Adams. “They have said that this should be a collaborative effort.”
“While the recreation industry wants the designation for recreation purposes, we have a group of people that are just trying to exist,” said Adams. “Their needs have to be addressed.”
Adams expressed hope for a positive outcome, “We share lots of common interests. With a good dialogue, we can come together.”
In other matters at the November 26 Commission meeting, Commissioners
• Approved Elizabeth Mooneyhan as a temporary cook for the San Juan County jail;
• Approved a recommendation by a county insurance committee to discontinue use of an insurance broker in 2013.
• Instructed County Clerk Norman Johnson and Assistant County Attorney Walter Bird to review the county beer ordinance, which was last changed in 1988. The ordinance governs the possession, sale and distribution of beer in unincorporated areas of the county.
• Discussed the county budget process. Commissioners discussed budget requests with department heads on November 26, in anticipation of a budget hearing on December 3 at 6 p.m. Commissioners will approve a balanced 2013 budget by the end of December.
Phil Gaze approached the Commission with concerns about heavy trucks traveling through the Wilson Arch subdivision.
Glaze said that trucks are roaring down the streets of the subdivision. They travel on county roads from an old highway through the area.
Glaze developed the subdivision. He said the public has a right to travel on the road, he just wants to slow traffic and see that roads are maintained.
Commissioners agreed to discuss the issue with the road department.