Summit County Council To Discuss Forest Management And Might Reach Decision On NewPark

Sep 12, 2018

Credit Summit County

  For the Summit County Council's regular session on Wednesday, their major items are a proposed to better manage the national forests, and maybe the Council's decision on a development controversy in NewPark.

The Council meets at the Coalville Courthouse. Shortly, before 4:00 pm, they will discuss whether they want to join a petition to the U.S. Forest Service to modify a Roadless Area Rule that the federal government set in 2001. The governor's office has submitted the item to several counties.

A summer season of severe fire in the Western U.S. has focused attention on the issue of deadfall in the forests and the fire hazard they pose.

County manager Tom Fisher said that Deputy Manager Janna Young, planner Sean Lewis, and Council Member Glenn Wright have been meeting with forest officials.

“You’ll recall one year ago we adopted a resource management plan under state direction and it kind of follows that same theme so that we’re recommending that we come up with four stewardship areas or forest restoration areas that would help us and help the U.S. Forest Service manage especially dead timber that’s up in the Uintas. We know that we’ve got a big problem up there with fuels that if there was a fire we’d have a hard time controlling some of that. We’re kind of looking at it as an opportunity to not create a whole new road system up there because there already is one, but basically making sure that its designated right so that the U.S. Forest Service can manage their forest.”

A change in the rules doesn't mean that people can go into the forest and just collect deadwood.

“I mean I think there’s still a lot of federal regulation around that and so that’s what would be worked out between Utah and the Federal Government in having a Utah specific designation. We’re simply stating that the road system that’s up there is adequate in order to do what our forest managers say they need to do.”

Fisher discussed the designations proposed by the staff.

“This forest stewardship area or forest restoration area have certain definitions within state law or federal law and that’s what we’re recommending. That has gone through the planning commission process, the governor’s office wanted this to go through a public process. Now it will go through a series of work sessions, public hearing in front of the council in order to get some public input on that before we react we need to have something in front of the Governor before the first week of October.”

Later on the agenda, at about 5:00 pm, the council will consider a decision on the appeal against the County Manager's approval for the Commons at Newpark project--a building with seven townhomes to be constructed just west of the NewPark amphitheater.

Fisher said the council last met on the dispute two weeks ago.

“They did a tour of the area, talked to the different sides about the property itself and the development proposal. They then got back and heard further testimony from both sides they haven’t had the opportunity to really deliberate amongst themselves on it yet because of time constraints so this hour is set for that to happen. I don’t know that there’s outstanding issues I think they’ve heard everything that they wanted to hear. It simply came down to time during their last hearing of this that they weren’t able to discuss it as a full group. Plus, you’ll recall that councilmember Armstrong had to leave the meeting early for a previous commitment and he wanted to be part of that decision.”

We asked again, if the council ever considered the site for an open space purchase.

“It really has not been approached by the private property owner as a possibility to do that, I mean they own the space. The development agreement doesn’t contemplate having public open space in that area except for the Swaner EcoCenter which is right next door but there has not been any discussion about that.”