Visitors learn about resource
planning effort at open house
FAIRVIEW—A recent open house at the Peterson Dance Hall in Fairview offered the first peek at an effort to develop a Sanpete County Resource Management Plan (RMP).
The open house was held Nov. 10 in conjunction with a Mayors and Commissioners meeting. Most of the attendees were mayors and commissioners who stopped by before going to their separate meeting next door at the Fairview City Hall.
Rural Community Consultants, the Utah County company that is developing the Sanpete RMP as well as RMPs for other counties in the Six County Association of Governments, set up displays, passed out handouts and directed visitors to a website set up for the planning effort, http://www.sanpetecountyplan.org. A couple of the company’s technical experts were available to answer questions.
Rural Community Consultants is a subsidiary of Jones and Demille Engineering of Richfield, a company familiar to many rural Utahns because it does engineering for many local municipal projects.
Utah law has long required counties to prepare and update general plans. Those plans talk about human trends and activities, such as population, the economy, roads, parks and land use. The last Sanpete County General Plan was approved in 2010.
In 2015, the Utah Legislature passed House Bill 210, “Resource Management Planning,” requiring counties to add substantial chapters to their general plans addressing the natural environment.
The act was sponsored by Rep. Kevin Stratton, R-Orem, and Sen. Ralph Okerland, R-Monroe, who represents Sanpete County. The 2015 act was amended slightly in 2016.
Passage of the act reflects the fact that “many lives are impacted by water quality, oils, rangelands, timber and even noxious weeds,” says Shannon Ellsworth of Rural Community Consultants, project manager for the Sanpete RMP.
The law requires counties to get down to the nitty-gritty. The RMPs must address 28 specific topics, everything from wild and scenic rivers, to predator control, to “cultural, historical, geological and paleontological resources.”
One of the first times the Sanpete County Commission talked about the RMP was in October, 2015, about eight months after passage of House Bill 210.
“This is a huge project to get our heads around,” Commission Chairman Claudia Jarrett said at the time.
Recently, the county commission took its first formal action on the RMP . On Oct. 18, it adopted a motion opening up the 2010 general plan for a future amendment, which will be the RMP when complete.
A public notice published prior to the Oct. 18 meeting said Rural Community Consultants would “establish any relevant findings, …establish clearly defined objectives, and… outline general policies and guidelines on how these objectives are to be accomplished.”
The materials distributed at the Peterson Dance Hall open house offered only a thumbnail sketch of the ultimate RMP. The handouts gave just a few paragraphs on most of the 28 topics, including defining the topic and identifying “management and influencers” in the topic area.
Notably, the handouts identified 24 local, federal and state agencies that exercise “influence” over resources in Sanpete County. They ranged from the USDA and EPA, to the Utah Division of Oil, Gas and Mining, to the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources.
For information beyond what was available at the open house, visitors were directed to the website, http://www.sanpetecountyplan.org. At the site, people can take online surveys on topics of their choice.
The surveys will be active on the site until mid-January, 2017, Ellsworth said. Another open house will be held sometime during the winter, possibly in February, 2017.
The final RMP will be developed between the first of the year and mid summer. A final public hearing will be held prior to adoption by the Sanpete County Commission. HB 210 requires all counties to adopt RMPs by August, 2017.
After adoption, the Sanpete RMP will be submitted to the Governor’s Public Lands Policy Coordinating Office (PLPCO) and folded into a statewide plan, Ellsworth said. (PLPCO is the same office charged with advocating for state takeover of federal lands in Utah.)