Six County AOG goals include natural gas pipeline and new industrial site
By Collin Overton
A new industrial site and natural gas pipeline in Sanpete County could soon be in the works, according to economic goals outlined the Six County Association of Governments’ (AOG) 2019 development strategy.
The Six County AOG, which comprises Sanpete, Juab, Millard, Piute, Sanpete and Wayne Counties, writes the Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) every five years to bolster industry in the region.
The newest strategy includes providing “political support for Millard and Sanpete counties to obtain permits and financing to develop a natural gas pipeline to unserved areas.” The AOG would like to develop and plan an industrial site location in Juab County and Sanpete Counties. It also proposes to add more four-year programs, as well as entrepreneurial courses to Snow College.
County Commissioners Scott Bartholomew and Edwin Sutherland could not give specifics on when or how those projects would be started this early on. But the document outlines other potential areas for growth, as well as Sanpete County’s projected population growth over time.
The AOG expects the county’s population to inflate by 50 percent by 2060 to about 46,000 people. This is compared to Juab County, which would only reach 28,000, but grow over 100 percent, and Sevier, which could reach 32,000 by 2060 and grow 40 percent. Sanpete is still expected to comprise about 35 percent of the six county region’s population by 2060.
Sanpete’s biggest sectors for employment are government and trade, transport and utilities, which account for almost 50 percent of the six-county region’s employers. The document noted a significant gap between these two areas and sectors like education, health, social services, hospitality and manufacturing. The predominance of public lands and national forests accounted for much of this, as 83 percent of the region is public lands.
“Even though the amount of public land in the region is viewed as a liability, it can also be recognized as a great asset when it comes to tourism and recreational opportunities,” the document read.
Potential ways this could happen would be through the multiple use of public lands like Manti-La Sal, Fishlake and Uinta National Forests. This could mean converting a fraction of the lands for uses like recreation, grazing and lumber, Bartholomew said.
Sutherland said he expected to see transportation as a sector grow, as northern development on the Wasatch Front continues to put demands on nearby areas like Sanpete.
Strengths are the availability of a rural lifestyle, open space and quality of life. It comes at a cost, however, as the county and region show a slower growth rate, lower educational attainment, higher poverty and lower per capita and median family income from that of the state and Unites States, the report noted. The result is lower growth, 2.1 percent when compared to Utah at 5 percent.
The document also hints at a potential short line railroad through Sanpete County, as it currently has no rail service. A feasibility and environmental impact study is being conducted to determine the plausibility of building a railroad to serve Sanpete and Sevier Counties.
“We just don’t want to restrict anything,” Bartholomew said. “Mining, timber, everything that needs to be put into place. It’s needed.”