County enters agreement with BLM, Forest Service
San Juan County has entered a Cooperating Agency agreement with the Bureau of Land Management and the National Forest Service.
The National Forest and BLM are currently working together on a resource management plan for the Bears Ears National monument and invited San Juan County to be a Cooperating Agency on the project. The County Commission discussed and voted on the proposal during the June 21 County Commission meeting.
Michael Englehardt is the District Ranger for the Monticello and Moab Ranger district. He said the agencies think it’s important to work with local governments on the project.
“We recognize that local governments, tribal governments, and other entities, are of such value and importance to us to develop the plan with the thoughts of the local community in mind,” said Englehardt.
County Commissioner Bruce Adams expressed concerns over the county getting the shorthand on this deal. He asked Michael Englehardt and Jake Palma, BLM representatives, if their agencies expect San Juan County to maintain roads, make law enforcement available, search and rescue, ex… for the monument. If this was the case, Adams wanted to know if the County would receive any financial compensation from the agencies.
Neither agency could promise any money to the county, but they can make efforts to try and take care of some policing and maintenance on their end.
Adams went on to say, “We’re disappointed there hasn’t been some dollars come to the county to offset what the taxpayers have to pay to take care of all these visitors that come.”
Despite concerns about money, the County Commission voted unanimously to partner with the agencies.
The Bureau of Land Management also invited San Juan County to enter a Corporate Agency Agreement with the Gunnison sage grouse resource management plan.
San Juan County and the BLM have previously cooperated on a resource management plan as recently as 2020. With the Bureau striking up a plan once again, they reached out to San Juan County to partner once again.
The large majority of the resource management plans are located in Colorado, but there is one in the Monticello area designated for the Gunnison sage grouse resource management plan.
Very little BLM land will be affected by the resource management plan amendments in relation to the total land.
According to county planner Nick Sandberg, 94% of the land that falls in the critical habitat area is private land.
Sandberg recommended that the County partner with the BLM on the resource management plan so the commission could have input as they’ve in past BLM projects.
The Commission was unanimous in accepting the invitation to be a cooperating agency on the project.
The Commission also discussed the roads for the new subdivision at Elk Meadows.
The road currently doesn’t meet county standards with the cul de sac only being around 40 feet wide while it is required that the road be 50 feet wide to be a county road.
Leaving the road a private drive would avoid this issue.
Commissioner Adams strongly opposed approving this subdivision.
“I don’t want to approve a subdivision that will later come back to haunt the county,” said Adams.
He fears that approving this subdivision even though the roads don’t meet standards is just asking for future plot owners to the county and ask for a better road.
Adams asked if there is any way they could legally force the developer to meet their standards. He also pointed out the awful condition of the Red Rock Rim road.
“It’s not fair to the citizens of the county to put up their tax dollars to do that when the developer should be required to do that,” said Adams.
Adams said he would either like a bond over 125% of the value of the road, or bring the red rock rim road and tree road private to a county standard.
The bond would allow the county to have the money to fix or finish road work done by developers. A settlement agreement would then allow the bond to go back to the developer when the road meets county standards.
Planning and Zoning Director Scott Burton expressed concern over going this route because of all the private roads in the area that the County has no jurisdiction over.
Burton also discussed the division of water environmental equality and the division of water rights.
If the county were to supply water to all lots in the subdivision using one water system, it would require two wells.
Adams requested Ivins form a legal opinion on how to require county road standards, water resources, and how to give notice to potential buyers so they know of the roads, water, and infrastructure.
Commissioner Maryboy motioned to table the item for further research of the concerns brought up by commissioner Adams. The vote to table the item was unanimous.
Dr. Sam Arungua made a pitch to the county to partner with him and USU in a program that would train local students to work on local public health projects.
The hope is for these local students to receive a good education and positive experience that would then drive them to a career in public health, and, hopefully, they will stay in San Juan County.
With a Ph.D. in juvenile justice, a master's degree in administration of justice, and a postdoc in prevention science, Dr. Arungua is perfectly suited to run reinstatement programs like this.
It was asked that the county would fund ¼ of the project and the University would pay the rest. The Commission voted unanimously in support.
Development of workforce housing in Spanish Valley was also passed unanimously after Adams requested that the housing would have fire hydrants.
The commission also approved the purchase of two Peterbilt Trucks with Dump bodies and Snow Plow Equipment for $500,000. As well as the replacement of the engine in the water truck for $15,056.