Forest service updates county commission on 2017 projects

Forest service updates county commission on 2017 projects


James Tilson 

Staff writer



MANTI—A representative from the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) updated the Sanpete County Commission last week about projects planned for 2017 in Sanpete County.

Austin Hiskey said the primary project for 2017 wouldl be to improve several of the Arapeen off-road trails in the county. The USFS will widen the trails from 50 inches to 60 inches. The trails are already wide enough to accommodate 60-inch vehicles; the main improvement will be to widen the “pinch-points” at the beginning and end of the trials.

Hiskey indicated that this would be a multi-year effort. The USFS feels that off-road vehicle design is trending to the 60-inch design, and improving the trails to accommodate such vehicles will be responsive to forest visitors.

Many 60-inch vehicles are already using the trails illegally, and thus the improvements will ease concerns over illegal usage. Commissioner Scott Bartholomew “concurred” with that assessment.

Other projects that the USFS plan for 2017 are:

  • The USFS plans a timber sale, as in past years. The sale is for dead standing spruce trees, known as a “salvage sale.” The timber can be gathered from locations across the county, but will mostly be in Fairview Canyon.
  • The Six-Mile Canyon Hydro Plant project is progressing. Plumbing and power lines are in place, and Hiskey stated that he hoped the plant would be operational by the end of winter.
  • Work on the Ephraim Tunnel has halted for the winter and will resume as soon as the ground thaws in the spring.
  • An environmental impact statement (EIS) has been completed for the proposed power line to transmit energy from wind farms in Wyoming to Southern California. One of the proposed routes for the power lines would run near to northern Sanpete County.

In response to a question from the commissioners, Hiskey stated that the recent designation of the Bears Ears National Monument probably will have some effect on the Manti-LaSal National Forest Plan Revision, from the stand-point of all the paperwork and staff time it will take to deal with the new designation.

Hiskey directed interested persons to the Manti-LaSal National Forest web-site for information regarding the Bears Ears monument.

The commissioners heard a request from Wayne Larsen, Ilene Roth and Reed Hatch to increase the fee for digital copying of the Sanpete tax roll.

Larsen, Roth and Hatch argued to the commissioners that the current fee ($400) did not reflect the true value of the information. They proposed that the county charge $0.25 per parcel, which would result in a charge of $7,506 as of the last count to anyone wishing to have a digital copy of the entire roll.

County Attorney Brody Keisel objected, saying, “This will put us in court, and we will lose.”  He explained that Utah statutes allow counties to charge a “reasonable fee” for such records, but only if it involves work not already done as part of the county’s regular obligations. A county cannot charge for the value of what are public documents.

Keisel stated that many counties do not charge anything for providing such copies. Larsen admitted that it took 15 minutes for a clerk to collect the records and email them to a requester. The commission left the fee at the current amount.