County seeks ‘maximum public input’ for resource management plan

ST. GEORGE – An early draft of Washington County’s resource management plan has been released to the public, and officials are asking for input from county residents.

“If you’ll look forward in the future 10 years, 50 years and 100 years and ask yourself what resource concerns you think we’ll have and how you’d like them handled, that’s what I want to hear,” said Deputy Washington County Attorney Celeste Maloy, who is writing the resource plan.

Nine of the eventual 28 sections of the resource management plan have already been posted on the county website, and residents are encouraged to view the drafts and make comments and continue commenting during every step of the process.

The "jumping rocks" at Sand Hollow State Park, Hurricane, Utah, June 28, 2016 | Photo my Mori Kessler, St. George News
The “jumping rocks” at Sand Hollow State Park, Hurricane, Utah, June 28, 2016 | Photo my Mori Kessler, St. George News

The sections currently available for viewing and commenting are:

  • ditches and canals
  • fisheries
  • floodplains and river terraces
  • irrigation
  • law enforcement
  • riparian areas
  • water quality
  • water rights and wild and scenic rivers

Public input is critical to the process, Maloy said.

“In order to make it a legitimate plan, I’m seeking the maximum public input I can possibly get,” she said. “The more people who look at this and come at it with different points of view and different areas of expertise, the better the plan will be. So please look (and) comment. I have a very open phone, open email policy on this.”

Maloy will continue to update the draft versions on the county website as feedback is received. Eventually, there will be 28 sections, she said.

Views of Zion National Park from the road to Gooseberry Mesa. Apple Valley, Utah, April 12, 2016 | Photo by Hollie Reina, St. George News
Views of Zion National Park from the road to Gooseberry Mesa, Apple Valley, Utah, April 12, 2016 | Photo by Hollie Reina, St. George News

Maloy has presented the plan to city councils within the county and has emailed drafts to all the mayors. Drafts have also been sent to the BLM, the U.S. Forest Service and the Shivwits Band of Paiutes.

“If there’s anybody I haven’t thought of, let me know,” Maloy said.

The plan will be a dynamic, living document that is constantly updated, she said, not just finished and forgotten.

The county is putting a lot of time and effort into the land use management plan, Washington Deputy County Attorney Eric Clarke said.

“This isn’t something that we use to go in and tell a federal agency ‘You have to do it our way or it’s the highway.’ It doesn’t work that way,” Clarke said.

“But obviously, there’s always room for definition and gaps in any planning process. And so when a BLM plan, for example, goes through and analyzes things, they have to take into account our written and adopted county policies.”

If a federal planning process doesn’t define something or go into depth, the county can fill in those gaps with policies that fit the views of Washington County, Clarke said, and that carries weight.

Kevin Arnone wades through chilly water, one of many such pools encountered in the descent of Yankee Doodle Canyon, Leeds, Utah, May 19, 2016 | Photo by Don Gilman, St. George News
Kevin Arnone wades through chilly water, one of many such pools encountered in the descent of Yankee Doodle Canyon, Leeds, Utah, May 19, 2016 | Photo by Don Gilman, St. George News

“That can be used as leverage to make sure that federal plans applicable to our area are in line with the desires of those of us that love to get out and utilize and conserve and just recreate on our public land,” Clarke said.

The draft plans are available for download on the Washington County Commission’s webpage.

To make comments or suggestions on the draft plans, call or email Celeste Maloy at celeste.maloy@wcattorney.com or 435-986-2635.

Email: japplegate@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2016, all rights reserved.

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