Commission clarifies county's position on Nine Mile board
The Carbon commission recently declared that local lawmakers will no longer consider the Nine Mile Canyon advisory panel an official county board.
"This is a formal notice that the Nine Mile Advisory Board should no longer be viewed, if it ever was, as a Carbon County directed or sponsored governmental board," wrote Commissioner Steve Burge in an email to advisory board members on Nov, 17.
Burge cited the conflicting interests represented on the board, stating that there are too many varying views to maintain an effective governmental board.
The political environment surrounding the canyon's future is heated "with the ongoing pressures surrounding gas exploration and drilling, the historical resources, road nightmares, the resource management plan and the BLM [environmental Impact statement]," noted the Carbon County commissioner in the letter.
However, Burge encouraged members of the board to continue to make improvements in the canyon.
The commissioner noted one of the more significant partnerships between the county and Bill Barrett Corporation that formed in part because of the actions of the advisory board.
That partnership has led to a rerouting of the road near the Cottonwood Panel.
The road previously passed directly in front of the panel. With the road rerouted away from the panel, heavy truck traffic is kept away from the petroglyph panel and tourists can view the panel more easily without the worry of traffic.
Other efforts have come out of the committee including the pooling of volunteer resources to creates fences, place signs and give greater access to the archaeological resources of the canyon.
The board has also explored various options for improving the road, including one that could provide a harder surface with less dust but cost less than paving.
During a later interview, Burge said there has been some tension on the board.
The commissioner pointed out that, since the board was formed by the county, the tension has gotten worse, despite the positive actions that the members have taken.
"That tension is not going to lessen, it's going to get worse," said Burge.
The commissioner noted that the positive actions taken by the board have come as a result of the cooperation.
"By and large, it has been more positive than negative," said Burge.
The commissioner noted that one measure considered by many people to have negative impacts on Nine Mile was the naming of the canyon to the National Trust for Historic Preservation's list of Americas most endangered places.
However, Burge noted that the initiation of the action came from the Nine Mile Canyon Coalition, a separate entity from the Nine Mile Canyon Advisory Board.
Burge suggested that that action has been shown to be a detriment to economic development in the region and many individuals have wrongly blamed the advisory board for it.
In the email, Burge said he would continue to be involved int eh advisory board and seek the assistance of the county where appropriate.
In April of 2004, the county commission granted $40,000 toward the efforts of the advisory board. Since the application for those monies came from the College of Eastern Utah Prehistoric Museum, the remaining amount will be retained by the museum, which can legally administer the funds because it is part of a public entity.