On March 3, the United States Bureau of Land Management announced the establishment of a San Rafael citizens advisory committee.
The agency has charged the panel will exploring the challenges and opportunities to boost on-the-ground management of the public lands located within the San Rafael region.
"There's a great deal of talent among those who know and care about this special place. This new committee will help us harness that energy in positive ways to help us move forward," pointed out Patrick Gubbins, Price BLM field office manager.
Emery County Commissioner Drew Sitterud will assist Gubbins in guiding and supporting the committee.
The panel is not part of a process looking at a national monument or type of legislative designation for the San Rafael Swell, clarified the commissioner.
"That's a debate best left to others right now. We won't spin our wheels worrying about what to call the place. Instead, we'll concentrate on what we can do to make a difference," noted Sitterud.
Concurring with the Emery commissioner, Gubbins called for a pragmatic approach designed to unite, rather than divide, all parties interested in the Swell.
"This is a one step at a time kind of thing, focusing on discrete management issues that we can either consider during the development of the BLM's ongoing resource management plan or even beforehand to improve day to day management," indicated Gubbins.
The San Rafael is a component of the Utah BLM's statewide resource advisory council.
Chartered by the U.S. Interior Department, the Utah council serves as a forum for local citizens to offer advice and recommendations to the BLM regarding the management of public lands.
One provision of the advisory council is the authority to form temporary ad hoc subgroups. The subgroups are typically established to tackle specific issues within a geographic area, Under the provisions for advisory panels, the San Rafael subcommittee will report to the Utah resource advisory council. The council, in turn, will forward recommendations to the BLM.
Subgroups may contain a mix of "parent" statewide resource advisory council members and citizens, explained the Price BLM field office manager.
The San Rafael panel consists of five advisory council representatives and seven community leaders recruited for knowledge and consensus building skills.
"I'm excited about the potential of the San Rafael subgroup. I can't think of a better way to put the ideals of community based conservation into practice," said Gubbins.
The San Rafael citizens advisory subgroup members include:
Dennis Worwood, Ferron, Emery lands council.
Neil Peacock, Castle Dale mayor.
Tracy Jeffs, Castle Dale resident.
Gary Kofford, Emery County commissioner.
Glen Johnson, Green River mayor.
Ber Knight, Moab, ORV.
Michael Jenkins, Salt Lake City, energy and rights of way.
Jeff Durrant, Provo, Brigham Young University.
Bill Coon, Herriman, Back Country Horsemen.
Jim Catlin, Salt Lake City, Utah Wild Project.
Linda Whitman, Moab, Nature Conservancy.
Leigh von der Esch, Salt Lake City, Utah Film Commission.
At the panel's initial meeting, the committee identified dispersed camping and trail systems, law enforcement and monitoring, riparian health, education and interpretation as subjects to address.
The Price BLM field office manager indicated that he looked forward to receiving the San Rafael advisory panel's advise and specific recommendations.
"I also hope the subgroup becomes a magnet for those honest brokers who want to step up to become catalysts for energizing the coalition of interests necessary to translate good intentions into positive actions out on the ground," concluded Gubbins.