SPEAR questions road closures on BLM lands

by Scott Burton

At the August 24 meeting of the San Juan County Commission, Brent Johansen, of San Juan Public Entry And Access Rights (SPEAR), expressed concern and frustration over road closures and travel restrictions to motorized vehicles on BLM and Forest Service land.

Several locations where trails or roads have been closed were discussed, most notably the Comb Ridge Trail and Recapture Canyon trails, which were closed temporarily and have not been re-opened.

Additionally Johansen expressed concern about SPEAR not receiving a BLM permit for a Fourth of July ATV ride.

Commissioners were concerned and unaware of permit requirements for a non-commercial event. Johansen said that any organized ride on BLM land needs a BLM permit.

Commissioners said the issue at the top of their priority list is to keep access open to the public. Commissioner Bruce Adams asked those in attendance to be the commission’s eyes and ears in the county to inform them of roads or trails being closed.

• Greg Adams, of the county planning and zoning department, presented a recommendation from the county Planning and Zoning Commission that proposed evaporation ponds 16 miles east of Monticello should not be granted a variance and not be allowed to be built. The reasons cited for the recommendation are health concerns, soil contamination, and decreased property values.

Dave Cresslor, who is developing the ponds, maintained that he has done everything the commissioners have asked, and applied for the state permits to build the ponds. The state application is pending the decision of the San Juan County Commission.

• In other business, three building permits were approved for remodeling projects; one in the Wilson Arch area, one in Spanish Valley, and one on the Lisbon Valley Road.

A $30,000 bid was approved to pave the parking lot at the county library and senior center in Monticello.

Commissioners approved a $4,000 contract with the state to control animal predators. With addition funding from the county, the $20 bounty on coyotes will remain.

• Dustin Fife was hired as the Library Director and will continue to work as the Blanding Librarian, with a pay grade increase from a step 47 to step 118

• There is no county commission meeting on Monday August 31.

At the August 17 meeting of the San Juan County Commission:

• A building permit was approved for the Canyon Country Discovery Center to build an observatory north of Monticello. The estimated $800 permit fee to build the observatory was waived.

The Commission has not decided to wave all permits for the Discovery Center. That decision will be made at a later date. The Discovery Center will pay for two $35 inspections at the observatory.

• Jymi Adams was hired as a part-time janitor. Commissioner Adams did not vote and with Commissioner Stevens absent, the decision is subject to Stevens’ approval.

• County Economic Development Director Charlie DeLorme reports that the Lisbon Valley Mine is up and running. The company owes nearly $2 million in property tax and is making payments to the county.

Commissioners approved two out of state travel requests for the County Economic Development office, one of $905 for the Adventure in Travel show in Seattle and one for $4,500 for the World Travel Market in London, with sales missions in England and France.

An board comprised of local residents and business owners approve use of transient room tax revenue, before they are brought before the commission.

Charlie Delorme also reported that fiber-optic lines would be to Blanding by the end of September, bringing improved bandwidth capability.

• William H. Johnston is appointed to serve on the Spanish Valley Sewer and Water District Board.

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