Plans for Black Hill scar heard; water restrictions pass at city council meeting

The scar on the Black Hill, St. George, Utah, June 7, 2013 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

ST. GEORGE – The St. George City Council heard a presentation from the chairman of the Hillside Reclamation Committee in its meeting Thursday concerning how the long-standing “scar” on the Black Hill may be fixed. The council also unanimously voted to initiate Stage I of its drought management plan, which places a mandatory restriction on the hours residents can water their lawns and gardens.

Reclaiming the scar

Committee Chairperson Jennifer Kraft said that the committee had been exploring ways to reclaim, or rather restore, the scarred portion of the Black Hill near the “D.”

The city is often blamed for the creation of the scar, Councilwoman Gail Bunker said, but originally the city had nothing to do with it. The scar has been created over the last 26 years through excavation for potential development. The issue has since become a recurring subject of conversation between citizens and city officials.

A large part of the property that has been excavated is owned by a single developer, Kraft said, though over the years the city has been able to buy parts of the property. One particular stretch of property now in the city’s possession is a 900-foot cut into the side of the hill originally meant to become a road. Known as the scar’s “brow,” this is where Kraft recommended the reclamation process start.

Kraft said 600 feet of the brow could be used as a demonstration area to show that the hillside could be successfully reclaimed. The process would involve scraping the hillside just below the brow and bringing up earth to recreate the pre-existing slope. The earth below the cut was originally part of the slope before it was cut into and dumped on the side of the hill to help create a foundation for the would-be road, Kraft said.

After the slope is created anew, the hillside would be seeded with native plants and rocks from the area would also be placed there. Where needed, rocks could also be artificially colored to match the natural colors of the Black Hill.

The price tag attached to the proposed 600-foot demonstration area is estimated to run around $91,000, Kraft said. The entire 900 feet could go up to $150,000.

“It’s a great opportunity for us to see what we can do and what can be done,” Kraft said.

Mayor Dan McArthur said many people are interested in seeing the hill reclaimed. One individual even donated $50,000 and several boulders from his property to the reclamation project.

The council did not vote on any measures to approve funding as a more full report on the Hillside Reclamation Committee’s efforts and recommendations will be presented in a future council meeting.

Water restrictions

The city council voted unanimously to implement the Stage I restrictions on water usage. See St. George News full report: St. George implements drought management water restrictions.

Email: mkessler@stgnews.com

Twitter: @MoriKessler

Copyright St. George News, StGeorgeUtah.com Inc., 2013, all rights reserved

The scar on the Black Hill, St. George, Utah, June 7, 2013 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

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14 Comments

  • Tyler June 7, 2013 at 1:06 pm

    The city is too passive in ways to get residents to conserve water. People are not gonna listen or care if there’s no penalties like fines implemented. And wow, someone really donated $50k for that hillside? That is insane.

  • Bree June 7, 2013 at 3:32 pm

    Water conservation starts with all of us including every municipality in Washington County. We see water going to waste regularly. For instance, Washington City waters their public parks on Sunday in the middle of the day regardless of the hot temperatures and in broad day light. They do a great job of keeping people off the grass on Sundays as a reminder to all of us we should not be having fun on Sunday. Because I am a heathen I run through the sprinklers and shower all at the same time.

    Perhaps before the residents are asked to conserve water, shouldn’t the cities be the first ones to set a good example to all of us?

  • Bender June 7, 2013 at 4:02 pm

    I like to see the developer’s name that made this cut. Anyone know who it was?

  • San June 7, 2013 at 4:36 pm

    I’d like to see the developer made to pay for this ‘reclaiming’ effort…why should tax payers foot the bill? That said, it looks awful and something out to be done.

    • Yogi June 7, 2013 at 5:05 pm

      Have the mayor tell you the “real” history of the scar. Then you may see why the city is trying to fix it.

      • Bender June 7, 2013 at 5:25 pm

        Spit it out Yogi. Don’t be coy.

  • Bender June 7, 2013 at 5:24 pm

    Bree, much of the municipal turf in the county is served by secondary water systems that have different water sources than our drinking water. When you see water being delivered during the daytime is often because that is the only time water is available for that particular park.
    .
    Water costs far too little in Washington County. The only reliable way to lower consumption is to raise the cost of water. Water conservation programs can have a limited beneficial effect, but are mostly in place to appease Federal and State regulators and serve as window dressing for the local water taxing entity — WCWCD.
    .
    Remove WCWCD’s taxing authority and burden the price of local water with the district’s O&M (operation and maintenance) and new water project development costs and I guarantee we drop from the top of the list of most water consumptive counties in the nation. We will also push any thoughts of a Lake Powell pipeline 50 years into the future. Ironically the Tea Party/Limbaugh-loving local politicians are allergic to this particular form of libertarianism. Ron Thompson will tell you that we are through and through New Englanders, incapable of living without vast expanses of bluegrass/rye and, yes, he needs to tax you as he alone sees fit.
    .
    In summary: Local taxing for water projects with no direct representation = good. Allowing free market pressure on water prices = bad. Never mind all that Tea Party talk we be spoutin, that only applies to democrats and gentiles.

    • Chris June 7, 2013 at 7:12 pm

      I like the way you think, Bender.

  • Ken June 7, 2013 at 5:50 pm

    I can’t believe Gail Bunker states that the city had no part in the Black Hill fiasco. Either she is extremely ignorant or a bold face liar. McArthur was on the city council happened yet he runs and says but I didn’t have anything to do with it. You people keep re-electing these dishonest people who have only their own interest at heart! Vote them all out and start a new!!!

  • Sandy June 7, 2013 at 7:17 pm

    Just a Suggestion:

    In my hometown, after they closed the mines, there was a huge area where the slag had been dumped and was a horrible sight. They paid ranchers to put cattle up there, with hay. The cattle ate, did their business and now the area is covered with vegetation and looks much better..

  • Paul June 8, 2013 at 8:54 am

    I’m elderly and bored, maybe I can find something to complain about.
    Look at that! A hill! With a scratch on it!
    OFF WE GO TO THE CITY COUNCIL MEETING!!!!!

  • DoubleTap June 8, 2013 at 11:33 am

    I would venture a bet that Mayor McArthur has an lucrative “business interest” in the “scare” being repaired. Ask him about how well he did with the new airport…..

  • Dan Lester June 8, 2013 at 3:31 pm

    Personally, I don’t find the “scar” ugly. I actually like the red rocks. Maybe we should go the other way, scrape off the black on the upper part, and have another “red cliff” to go with all the others. No, I’m not kidding. To me it makes more sense than covering the red with paint or whatever. If the red bothers you, go fix it yourself. Don’t ask me to pay for it.

  • San June 8, 2013 at 4:14 pm

    The cow idea is the best I’ve heard, except the area is not flat enough for a 800lb cow to be comfortable on…and I wouldn’t put any animal out there right now in the 109’f heat without shade sources. Maybe it’s an option for spring though….cost effective and smart.

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