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Carbon County officials discuss forestry contract, Dry Valley road closure

Sun Advocate reporter

The Carbon County Commission met last Wednesday. The funding of a forester contract and the re-alignment of a county road in the Scofield area were the main items of business at the Jan. 4 regularly scheduled meeting.

The first item of discussion was an updated renewal of a contract for the services of a county forester.

Commissioner Bill Krompel explained that Carbon County has one of the best county ordinances in the intermountain west concerning the harvesting of timber.

Ordinance 290 was adopted in 2000, and has been the model for several similar ordinances passed by other counties in the region.

The purpose of the ordinance is to protect natural resources, protect the interests of private landowners, protect the quality of ground and surface water quality of county watersheds, reduce the spread and damage of insect infestations and to reduce the potential for fire hazards.

The ordinance authorizes Carbon government to issue permits, regulate activities and collect fees from individuals or companies harvesting timber on private lands within the unincorporated areas of the county.

In the past, the county has contracted with Leonard Stull of LS Forest Management Service to oversee timbering and forestry issues in the county.

Stull was paid $30,000 from the county's general fund for the provision of the services, which included about three days of time each week dedicated to local forestry issues.

Due to recent budget constraints, the county has been unable to renew the contract for 2006.

Krompel said the county has a vested interest in maintaining the ordinance and the forester job.

Krompel pointed out that the the county is responsible for fire fighting on private property and the need to protect vital watersheds is an important issue for all Carbon residents.

Krompel explained that the county had recently been in contact with Stull and a new contract could be worked out at less expense to the county.

Under a proposed new agreement, Stull would devote one day per week to the county for a fee of $18,000.

Krompel recommended that the county commissioners sign the new agreement and fund the contract through municipal funds instead of the general fund.

Commissioner Steven Burge recommended that the county hire a natural resource specialist instead.

Burge suggested that the county hire a full-time person, preferably someone with a law-enforcement background, to oversee all natural resource development in the county.

With the natural gas fields expanding rapidly in the county, Burge said he felt there was a need for someone to oversee all aspects of the natural resource areas, not just forestry.

The commissioners debated the issue, then passed a resolution to offer a renewed county forester contract to Stull for $18,000, to be funded with municipal funds.

As a closing thought, county planning director Dave Levanger reminded the commissioners that the Utah Forest Products Association have scheduled the group's first conference in Price on Feb. 2 and Feb. 3.

The next major item on the commission meeting agenda was the issue of abandoning a stretch of county road in the Dry Valley area west of Scofield Reservoir.

The item had been advertised in the local press and Commissioner Mike Milovich opened the meeting for public discussion of the issue.

The single item of public concern was access to the area.

The commissioners were asked if the road closure would cut public access to the west side of Scofield Reservoir.

The commissioners explained that the section of road in question was approximately one-mile long. The reason for abandoning the roadway was to realign it and move it about 200 feet to the west of the current location.

The county will still own and maintain the road and it will continue to afford public access as it always has. The reason for a public hearing is to allow residents to offer input before the old road is abandoned.

It was explained that the road was being moved at the request of Jared Brown, who owns the land the road is on.

Brown deeded the county a new roadway that is 66-feet wide, and paid to have the new road constructed at his own expense. He plans to use the old roadway as part of a development project.

Carbon County Director of Planning, Dave Levanger, told those assembled that the new road alignment offers several advantages to the county. He said the new stretch of road is in a better location, on higher ground, better built than the old road, and with better drainage. He also said that the new road has been formally deeded to the county, something that the old road was not.

After being assured that property owners in the area had signed all necessary easement agreements, the commission passed a resolution to abandon the old roadway and accept the new road.

Other items of business at the January 4 meeting included funding of a new contract with lobbyist Robert Weidner. After some discussion, the commission agreed to fund a new $13,000 contract. The money will come from the general fund.

A proposal to fund a contract with the office of Recovery Services, to assist the Sheriff's office with serving subpoenas and civil papers, was discussed. Commissioners Burge and Krompel both had questions about the cost of the service and the extent of the agreement. After discussing the matter, the commissioners agreed to table the item for further review.

County Clerk Robert Pero presented the commissioners with sealed bids for carpeting the Tri-Court building. But he told the commissioners that it had come to his attention that the bidding process had not been fully advertised as required by law. He suggested that the commissioners send back the sealed bids unopened, and then re-advertise the bidding process. The commissioners agreed.

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