Adam Robison, right, and brother Jeremy put the finishing touches on the new welcome sign in the canyon.
The Utah Permanent Community Impact Board has awarded $5 million in grants and loans to Carbon County to continue improvements in Nine Mile Canyon.
But it is not certain the funds will be spent.
It depends on full-field development of the Bill Barrett Corp. natural gas wells on the Tavaputs Plateau, explained Commissioner Mike Milovich.
The total cost of all the road work and tourist enhancements for the 36-mile corridor is around $20 million. While the county and other agencies are committed to seeing it happen, that commitment is contingent on receiving the stream of royalties from the extensive, 600-well development.
The development, which anticipates as many as 75 wells per year for seven to ten years, is on hold. The Bureau of Land Management has yet to issue its record of decision on the Environmental Impact Statement.
In a report issued last fall, Commissioner Bill Krompel noted that the potential production could be as much as 1 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. In addition to the energy potential, there are hundreds of millions of dollars in federal, state and local revenues at stake, the report states.
In 2008, for example, thecompany paid more than $26 million in federal mineral lease royalties, $8.5 million in severance and ad valorem taxes to the state, and $1.4 million in county property taxes, the commissioner wrote.
Commissioner Milovich said Monday that the $3.75 million grant and $1.25 million loan would be given back to the CIB if full-scale development is not approved. Meanwhile, work is continuing in the canyon, long recognized as an outdoor archaeological museum of prehistoric Native American culture.
Last week, Tree Top Landscaping put the finishing touches on a new welcome sign at the entrance of the canyon. The sign, featuring petroglyph artwork, is mounted on a sturdy concrete base and veneered with native stone.
It is surrounded by crushed "chocolate rock" gravel which matches the geological environment.
Castle Country Travel Region Director Kathy Hanna-Smith said the design matches the motif chosen for future improvements.