San Juan County Commission approve letter of support for mountain bike system in Spanish Valley, gain ownership of billboard in Hanksville

Members of the San Juan County Commission approved a letter of support for a trail system in Spanish Valley, approved county ownership of a billboard in Hanksville, and tabled comment on a proposed change in process by the Bureau of Indian Affairs at their latest meeting.
At their February 21 meeting members of the commission heard a report from Spanish Valley liaison Jerry McNeely.
McNeely introduced himself to commissioners Jamie Harvey and Silvia Stubbs explaining he had lived in greater Spanish Valley for over 80 years and after serving on the Grand County Council for eight years he began working as a liaison for San Juan County in Spanish Valley.
McNeely reported holding weekly meetings with the public at the Branding Iron restaurant on Wednesday afternoons and agencies such as the bureau of land management and the forest service.
He says lately his focus lately has been working with the San Juan County road department on snow removal in northern San Juan County, which is a particular challenge in the upper elevations of the La Sal mountains. McNeely noted too that the higher-than-average snowpack could bring additional challenges if the snow melt is too fast along the Pack Creek Fire burn scar this spring and summer.
At the meeting members of the commission also heard from county economic development director Elaine Gizler. Gizler explained the county had recently been gifted ownership of a billboard in Wayne county by Black Oil Company.
Gizler explained the billboard is located in Hanksville just before highway 24 and 95 meet. At that intersection, travelers can turn to travel towards Capital Reef National Park or towards San Juan County in the other direction.
Gizler explained the county is planning to put images of Monument Valley and the house on fire ruin on the billboard with an arrow pointing towards highway 95. The lease agreement for the land the billboard sits on is $1,000 annually.
Transfer of ownership of the billboard required approval from the commission which was granted unanimously.
At the meeting, Gizler also presented a letter of support for a mountain bike trail system in northern San Juan County.
Formerly referenced as the Mud Springs Trail System, Gizler explained the now-named Spanish Hills Trail will be created in three phases and eventually managed by the Grand County Active trails and transportation with the county reimbursing for that work at an estimated $22,000 a year.
Gizler reported that the trail system will be adjacent to Spanish Valley SITLA development plans.
“People will be able to use it now but then as we think about how the community’s going to be developed it will be an incredible amenity and eventually connect to La Sal loop road and eventually connect to Spanish Valley drive.”
San Juan County resident Brendon Cameron is the general manager of Western Spirit Cycling in Moab. Cameron added his support of the project noting the trail will be a great recruitment tool for businesses in the area.
Gizler added the trail system will bring in events through the National Interscholastic Cycling Association which puts on races for youth mountain bikers. Gizler reported that if the county increased current occupancy in northern San Juan County by about 10 percent the county would earn an additional $30,000 in transient room tax, which Gizler says would offset the cost of trail maintenance. Trail maintenance costs will come out of the economic development and visitor services budget.
Members of the commission unanimously approved a letter of support for the trails system.
At the meeting members of the commission tabled a letter commenting on a proposed Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) change to regulations for simplification of converting tribal ownership of fee lands to trust lands.
County public lands coordinator Nick Sandberg presented the letter noting the county has concerns about what those tax-exempt conversions would have on the county tax base and its ability to continue funding government services to those properties.
The letter recommends two alternatives suggested by Duchesne County. One would require the BIA to make payment in lieu of taxes (PILT) payments while another would require that the tribe and local government entities involved develop an agreement on how to fund county services on the tax-exempt lands.
Commissioner Harvey made a motion to table the item to allow more time for him to familiarize himself with the issue.
“We want to be knowledgeable in providing that educational piece to our constituents back home so it doesn’t look like we’re making a decision that benefits something else.”
At the meeting members of the commission also approved participation in an opioid settlement agreement between counties in Utah and Pharmaceutical Supply Chain Participants including CVS, Walmart, Walgreens, and others.
The commission also approved a community structure plan for the South Valley Community presented by the State Institutional Trust Lands Administration (SITLA) during their work session.
The structure plan acts as a master plan for the planned development by SITLA planned to take place over the next 20 years. Among the plans include main roadways to access the development, sites for three schools, two regional parks, community parks and proposed zoning for the areas.
The plan in its entirety can be found online at

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