Utah launching 1st comprehensive planning effort for Green, Colorado rivers

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Staff member

SALT LAKE CITY — To ensure the long-term sustainability of the Green and Colorado rivers as they flow through portions of Utah, state sovereign land managers are launching a first-ever effort to craft comprehensive management plans for the waterways.

The plans affect those state-owned sovereign land sections of the rivers as they go through Uintah, Grand, Emery, Wayne, Garfield, Kane and San Juan counties. The beds of navigable waters are owned by the state but held in trust for the public.

Plans will be developed, with public input, under the purview of the Utah Department of Natural Resources' Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands.

That division is required to regulate all uses on, beneath or above the bed of the rivers, including protecting navigation, fish and wildlife habitat, aquatic beauty, public recreation and water quality.

These first-ever comprehensive management plans will also include an update of mineral leasing plans impacting Green and Colorado river resources.

During March and April, the division — assisted by contractors SWCA Environmental Consultants; CRSA architects, planning and design; and Hansen, Allen & Luce — will present information regarding the plan development process at open house meetings in each county that contains state-owned sovereign land sections of the rivers.

Open houses

The open houses, all from 6 to 8 p.m., are as follows:

  • Uintah County, March 27, at the Uintah County Library in Vernal
  • Kane County, April 10, at the Kanab City Library in Kanab
  • Garfield County April 11, at the Escalante Senior Center in Escalante
  • Wayne County, April 12, at the Hanksville EMS Building in Hanksville
  • San Juan County, April 17, at the San Juan County Administration Building in Monticello
  • Grand County, April 18, at the Grand County High School Auditorium in Moab
  • Emery County, April 19, at the John Wesley Powell Museum in Green River

All residents are encouraged to attend the public open house meeting in their county.

"Public involvement is an important part of the Green and Colorado river planning process," said project manager Laura Vernon, adding "suggestions and concerns about the rivers can help us identify issues and develop management plan objectives."

Vernon said the state developed comprehensive management plans for the Jordan and Bear rivers, two distinctly different waterways facing sharply contrasting issues because Jordan is an urban river, while the Bear River flows through a rural setting.

"It is interesting to see the different issues that come up," she said. "I suspect we will see some here."

Draft plans and a range of management actions and alternatives, in addition to an assessment of each of the river's resources, will be available for review during a second round of meetings a year from now. In the summer of 2019, those draft plans will be open for public comment.

The drafts should be finalized in December of 2019.
How long before the governments mess this up? I guess we can hope for success.
Absolutely no disrespect intended, but why do you automatically assume they will? My experiences dealing with Utah DWR/DNR personnel have been about 98% positive. I don't agree with them 100% of the time, but have found since coming to Utah in 1977 that most of the DWR folks are absolutely on our side when it comes to managing or public resources. They have a very difficult job trying to please as many folks as they can when making decisions, KNOWING that there are going to be some that think their decisions are bovine excrement of the highest odor. Get involved with this issue and make your thoughts and concerns known to the DNR folks. Your input is valuable and they really do want to hear from users to make this a worthwhile effort that will benefit all of us. If you can't attend one of the public meetings, you can email your thoughts and concerns to the Utah Department of Natural Resources' Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands (Laura Vernon?). Nothing is set in concrete yet. Get involved and help make it work for the maximum amount of users possible. :)
Good Question Dubob, most of us are a bit skeptical when the Government wants to "help". As a general rule the amount of bureaucratic inefficiency increases as you go up the chain of government. Local governance is best because the people making the decisions are closest to the results of those decisions. Next and less efficient is the State Government level, which have less direct information and are working from reports rather than first-hand information. Then we have the Feds who don't even use reports(as a rule), and rely on lobbyists and emotion to make their decisions, creating the least effective bureaucracies that this country has ever seen. I agree that locals that are directly impacted should have their voices heard, but that isn't always how it works(Remember the Bears Ears designations?). I too hope that this doesn't become a bureaucratic water grab.
We all, or at least many of us, have been involved from time to time, in open houses, planning meetings and meetings open for public comment and suggestions. There are inherent dangers in this process:
  1. These are NOT generally held for public input regardless of the stated intent.
  2. Any suggestions NOT in-line with what has already been decided will simply be passed off and/or explained away.
  3. The planning process is done in toto by those that think it is there right/job/entitlement.
  4. Consistent with John's post, the further away you get from the citizenry in size and distance the bigger the chance of our superiors acting unilaterally.
  5. It happens from possibly your own HOA level, if you have one, through the city, county, state and federal level. There s a reason everyone, that is E-V-E-R-Y-O-N-E, in Washington is rich, rich very rich! It is because they can make themselves rich by helping, that is H-E-L-P-I-N-G us all live a better and happier life.
Now shut up and color,
"Government is like fire. If it is kept within bounds and under the control of the people, it contributes to the welfare of all. But if it gets out of place, if it gets too big and out of control, it destroys the happiness and even the lives of the people."
— Harold E. Stassen

-or to be more succinct-

Government does not solve problems; it subsidizes them.
— Ronald Reagan
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