Blanding may restore area near the Westwater Ruin
Mar 06, 2013 | 2319 views | 0 0 comments | 18 18 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The City of Blanding is considering the improvement of land west of town near the Westwater Ruin. The hope is to restore the ruin, promote visitation and assist in the development of an archaeological program at the Utah State University (USU) campus in Blanding. The plans were discussed at the February 26 meeting of the Blanding City Council.

Approximately 160 acres of land in the southwest quadrant of the community has had various owners over the years. The land was initially acquired by the Utah Navajo Development Council. Ownership then migrated to the City and then slid to the San Juan Education Foundation. The city is considering resuming ownership and helping to restore the ruin with the help of the San Juan Heritage Foundation and USU.

The Westwater Ruin has fallen into disrepair but the city hopes that a restoration effort may be of great interest to residents and visitors alike. The area also includes a small natural bridge.

It is part of two 640- acre sections that run down Westwater Canyon from the Westwater community. Blanding Mayor Toni Turk said that the master plan is to “help prevent happening on the west side of the community what happened on the east side of the community as far as trails being closed.” In recent years, the BLM closed trails and issued fines for trail building in Recapture Canyon east of the city.

Turk mentioned that the project may help USU develop an archaeological program in Blanding and would “benefit education, tourism, and improve the Blanding brand that has been desecrated by the Wasatch Front media and other media groups.”

San Juan County Commissioner Phil Lyman signaled support for the project and added, “If several entities in San Juan County can work together, we can do a lot of good.”

In other matters at the February 26 meeting, the city discussed a proposed addition to the Dry Wash dam. Adding 18 feet to the top of the dam would increase its capacity from 180 to 550 acre feet.

The San Juan Water Conservancy District proposes the project, but City Councilman Kelly Laws points out that the conservancy currently owns no water rights at the site.

“I feel that our contribution is the fact that 27 percent of the water right is owned by the City of Blanding.” said Laws. “Our contribution is already in the development costs.”

The Council approved a resolution for the city to refinance $1.6 million in natural gas revenue refunding bonds. At reduced interest rates, the city could save up to $50,000 over the life of the bonds.

Paul Macdonald discussed the Blanding Watershed Wildfire Protection Plan. The plan could help participating landowners clear their land of fire hazards, similar to the work being done on Forest Service land on US 191 between Monticello and Blanding. Macdonald explained that the program can move forward only with the cooperation of landowners.

The City Council is planning a field trip to the Dinosaur Museum. The museum is set to add a 3,000 square foot exhibit on “Feathered Dinosaurs” and “Dinosaurs in the Movies” with a scheduled opening on July 4. The exhibits have been traveling to museums around the country and will make their permanent home at the museum in Blanding. The museum seeks city assistance to develop and market the new exhibits.

Councilman Charlie Taylor led a discussion about Walter C Lyman Park. The park, which is north of the city near the Third Reservoir, will likely revert to a primitive picnic area. Taylor reports that the park requires significant maintenance by city crews and is still falling into a state of disrepair.

In department reports, natural gas use in January was 86 percent higher than expected, year-to-date precipitation is just 80 percent of normal, the police department is looking for a new officer, the fire department received a new fire truck, and the recreation department is busy with basketball and volleyball seasons.
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