The Grand County Council has extended the deadline for public comment regarding the county’s recommendations for public land use to be submitted to Congressman Rob Bishop to Thursday, Jan. 30.
Rep. Bishop is working with a variety of public land stakeholders in an attempt to resolve public lands conflicts within five eastern Utah counties: Grand, San Juan, Uintah, Carbon and Wayne.
The council established a three-member study group at their Tuesday, Nov. 19 meeting to develop recommendations for long-term public land designations in Grand County. Their intent is to prepare a number of maps illustrating a range of alternatives for the county varying from minimally to highly restrictive land use designations.
Marc Thomas, a member of the Sierra Club’s Utah Chapter executive committee, asked the council for more time for public comment at the county council’s Jan. 7 meeting.
Councilmen Rory Paxman, Lynn Jackson and Jim Nyland – the public lands subcommittee members working on the project – were amenable to extending the deadline.
“We don’t have a problem with extending it,” Jackson said. “We are not bound by time-frames. We are trying to include the public as much as we can.”
Thomas also requested that emailed comment be accepted and considered.
Jackson said that accepting only written comment that is delivered to the council’s office was a conscious decision.
“We don’t want to turn this into an email voting extravaganza. If people are concerned and want to be part of this process, they can write a letter,” Jackson said. “That will be more meaningful than getting 500 emails that say the same thing.”
The council has requested that the comments to be submitted to be focused on Grand County and include recommended designations for a specific geographical area, land management prescriptions, concerns, and general suggestions for the future of public lands in our county relative to the Congressman’s proposed legislation.
Thomas previously presented the county council with a letter that was signed by local residents that included other members of the Glen Canyon chapter of the Sierra Club. The letter he presented at the Dec. 17 council meeting outlined the procedures for public participation they would like the committee to use.
After the council appointed Jackson to the public land subcommittee in November, a local resident, Bill Love, lodged a complaint that Jackson had a conflict of interest to being on the committee due to consulting work he has done for a potash company. He also stated that it was an ethical violation for Jackson to accept the appointment without identifying that he had previously done consultant work.
Love was not at the council meeting when Jackson was appointed to the subcommittee.
The Grand County Attorney’s Office gathered facts and conducted a thorough legal analysis of the alleged assertions made by Bill Love.
“The conclusion to our analysis is that Councilman, Lynn Jackson has not violated State or County Ordinances and that he has acted ethically in the performance of his duties,” said county attorney Andrew Fitgerald.
Once public comment is submitted, the council’s public lands study group will assemble a range of maps based on the input from the public and key land-use stake holders in Grand County. Their intention is to produce a variety of maps that show the many alternatives that have been suggested for land designation.
Despite the request that the entire process be open to the public, most of the study-group’s work meetings will be closed.
The council study group will present these maps to the public at an open meeting in March and again solicit public input before finalizing the maps for a council vote.
Fall 2014 is currently the target for completing a proposal for presentation to congress.
Conflict of interest complaint dismissed
“We don’t have a problem with extending it. We are trying to include the public as much as we can.”
Copies of Congressmen Rob Bishop and Jason Chaffetz’ report regarding the public land initiative can be found online at http://robbishop.house.gov/uploadedfiles/pli_staff_report_112013.pdf. Hard copies can be made available for a fee at the Grand County Courthouse upon request.
When: Deadline, Thursday, Jan. 30
Where: Mail or deliver comment to 125 E. Center St., Moab, UT 84532