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London Imlay, Family & Consumer Science, San Juan High
Target Ruin dwarfs two young explorers in the San Juan County backcountry.  Allison Yamamoto-Sparks photo
Target Ruin dwarfs two young explorers in the San Juan County backcountry. Allison Yamamoto-Sparks photo
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Census places San Juan as fastest growing county
Mar 28, 2017 | 481 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The US Census is reporting that San Juan County grew faster than any other county in the United States in the past year, an assertion that leaves local residents scratching their heads in confusion. Figures released by the US Census on March 23 state that San Juan County grew by an astounding 7.5 percent between July 1, 2015 and July 1, 2016. That represents growth of 1,188 new residents, from 15,707 to 16,895. The reported growth in San Juan County dwarfs the reported growth in the second fastest-growing county in the US, Kendall County, TX, which grew by an estimated 5.16 percent. The problem is there is little or no evidence that nearly 1,200 people moved into the county in that time frame. Between 2015 and 2016, enrollment in area schools dropped by 35 students. Officials in Monticello and Blanding, the only two incorporated towns in the county, report modest growth, but nothing approaching the 7.5 percent reported by the census bureau. “We anticipate that we will grow by several hundred residents between 2010 and the next official Census,” said Blanding City Manager Jeremy Redd. There is little change even in Spanish Valley, which has experienced more growth than any other area in the county over the past two decades. Customers and workers at the bustling Spanish Valley Vet Clinic state that the dramatic growth of nearly 1,200 new residents isn’t coming from the San Juan County portion of Spanish Valley. One 30-year resident of the area said that the San Juan County side of Spanish Valley probably had between 12 and 20 new homes in the past year. While the US Census conducts a physical count of every person on a ten-year basis, the bureau relies on estimates, algorithms and other data to estimate yearly changes. Sometimes the Census estimates can be off by large margins, particularly in isolated areas. One local official, who does not wish to be named, said, “The Census has historically been less than accurate, and that can cause problems since so much funding is tied to Census figures.” Inaccurate or vague Census estimates can also cause additional problems. Escalante, in neighboring Garfield County, is a case in point. The 1990 Census found 818 residents in the tiny town. Over the next ten years, the annual Census estimate points to dramatic growth in Escalante. The estimates state that the town had 1,100 resident in 1996 and grew to a high of more than 1,300 residents in 1999. In 2000, when the official Census was taken to physically count actual people, the number of residents was 824. Over the ten-year period between the actual head counts, the population changed by just six residents. However, during that time frame, the sleepy little town of Escalante found itself in the middle of controversy when it was swallowed up by the new Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. The change in population figures can mean many things, with some observers stating that the town lost 500 residents in a one-year period. Others state that the actual changes over time were much less dramatic, as evidenced by the flat growth between the two actual Census counts.
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Judge puts hold on Indian Creek ATV trail in Bears Ears NM borders
Mar 28, 2017 | 197 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A 6.4 mile loop trail for ATV use in Indian Creek Canyon is threatened after a ruling by a federal judge. Silvia M. Riechel, of the Interior Board of Land Appeals, stated this month that the trail is in violation of the proclamation that created the new Bears Ears National Monument. The trail is within the monument boundaries. The ruling stops construction or use of the trail until after a lawsuit by environmental groups is settled. The trail had recently been approved by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in December, 2016 after an exhaustive 12-year process. BLM approval of the trail was made on December 15, 2016, nearly two weeks before the December 28 declaration of the Bears Ears National Monument. The declaration specifically states that it does not impact valid rights within the monument borders that existed before the designation. The BLM and San Juan County argue that the trail was approved before the designation and was a valid existing right. The environmental groups that filed the appeal state that the trail was not yet valid because the 30-day appeal period was still in effect when the designation was made. They claim the proclamation also states that any additional roads or trails designated for motorized use are restricted to those necessary for public safety or protection of objects covered by the proclamation. Judge Riechel ruled favorably on the arguments of the environmental groups. The Grand Canyon Trust, Great Old Broads for Wilderness and the Utah Chapter of the Sierra Club filed the appeal. In 2005, San Juan County initiated a process to connect a number of trails in the Indian Creek Canyon area with existing routes in Lockhart Basin and Davis Canyon. The trail approved by the BLM includes areas near the Hamburger Rock and Creek Pasture campgrounds. The BLM had assumed responsibility for the construction and maintenance of the trail. The BLM had approved the project in 2015, but that decision was appealed. The new decision includes several new features, including a revised Environmental Assessment, more documentation of potential effects on cultural resources along connecting routes, a better explanation regarding riparian resources and mitigation, and an expanded noise analysis.
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