Counties join to oppose sage grouse designation
Jul 17, 2013 | 2594 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
by Trudy De Angelis

A Conservation Agreement regarding Gunnison sage grouse was presented to US Fish and Wildlife Director Dan Ash on July 16 in Gunnison, CO.

Five representatives from San Juan County attended the meeting, including Commissioners Bruce Adams, Mark Maryboy, and Phil Lyman; County Planner Nick Sandberg; and County Extension Officer Jim Keyes.

The Conservation Agreement (also known as the Umbrella Plan) was signed by San Juan County and 18 counties in Colorado. Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper and Utah Governor Gary Herbert both signed the agreement.

Colton Miles, of the staff of Utah Congressman Jason Chaffetz, and John Harja, of the Governors Public Land Policy Council, also attended the meeting.

The Conservation Agreement urges the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to forego listing the Gunnison sage grouse as an endangered species and asks to not list critical habit. The preliminary designation listed nearly one third of private land in San Juan Couty as critical habitat.

The agreement asks the FWS to recognize local efforts to preserve the sage grouse and requests ten years for local groups to prove that they can manage on their own without a federal designation.

The Utah FWS and the coalition of the 19 counties have requested an extension of six months on the public comment period. That extension has been granted. Public comments on the issue will be taken until March 31, 2014.

San Juan County Commissioners are attending a National Association of Counties Convention in Fort Worth, TX next week. Commissioner Adams is sponsoring a resolution at the convention concerning the Gunnison sage grouse designation.

In other matters at the July 15 Commission meeting, County Emergency Services Director Rick Bailey shared a map of Utah designating the various drought conditions in the state.

Bailey points out that two-thirds of San Juan County is in the extreme drought range, but that the county has not been designated by the USDA as a primary natural disaster area due to drought.

Piute, Sanpete and Sevier counties have this designation. Commissioner Adams said he will look into this.

Kelly Pehrson, Chief Executive Officer for the county, has looked into refinancing a water bond for the Mexican Hat Special Service District. He reports that the cost to refinance is prohibitive.

The county currently pays about $6,000 a year on that bond. It is agreed that the county will continue to make their current payments.

Melissa Palfreyman is hired as the part-time satellite librarian at La Sal and Gabe Clark will move from his job as dispatcher to that of corrections officer. Clark is required to complete additional training to qualify for this job.
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