Last day to comment to protect Sage Grouse lek



A Sage Grouse habitat in Morgan County, Utah, is being threatened with destruction. The first step in the process of developing the land is for the land use designation to be changed. The second step would be re-zoning, followed by the sale and development of the land, putting up resorts and condominiums. All the construction activity would spell the end of this land as Sage Grouse habitat.

This is a lek, or breeding ground, where Sage Grouse have executed their beautiful mating dances possibly for thousands of years, and where they raise new generations of Sage Grouse.

Tomorrow, on Thursday, August 14, the Morgan County Planning Commission will consider an application to change the designation of the land site – the first step in this process.  

This comment has been sent to the Morgan County Planning Commission.  Please see below for how to send your own comment. Thank you.


Dear Bill Cobabe and Morgan County Planning Commission Members,


I am writing to express my concern about Application 14.064, for a change in the land use designation of the 3000 acre Yaryca site from “Natural Resources and Recreation” to “Master Planned Community.”


Utah is one of the last remaining states in the U.S. that has large tracts of untouched, natural land. The unique character of Utah stems not only from the history of its people, but also from the extraordinary beauty of its wild places, including the plants and animals that are native to these regions.


These wild places represent the very essence of what sets Utah apart from so many states that are over-populated and over-developed.


While we all understand and respect the rights of property owners, these should not take precedence over the rights of Utah residents, including Morgan County residents, to preserve the basic character of their natural resources and the natural beauty of the areas they live in.


Part of this natural beauty are the wild species. In the case of the Yaryca site, it is home to a lek (breeding ground) of 500 Greater Sage Grouse, which are a species that is endangered and that is on a waiting list to be placed on the Endangered Species Act. Whether or not Sage Grouse are or are not placed on the Endangered Species Act, there is no doubt that they are a severely threatened species.


The right to own property does not carry with it the right to harm or destroy the natural environment. The wild species of nature, like the Sage Grouse, belong to Utah and to America; they do not belong to individual property owners.


I ask you to ensure the protection of this very important habitat of the Sage Grouse, which would be entirely destroyed if this property were to be developed.


The Sage Grouse lek, where these sensitive and charming birds have lived, have executed their beautiful courting dances, and raised new generations of Sage Grouse for hundreds or even thousands of years, should not be put at risk.


The Sage Grouse lek lies exactly within the boundaries of the Yaryca site, and nearly all of the Yaryca site lies within just a mile or so of the center of the birds’ habitat. This means that the birds, which are a sensitive, already endangered species, could not survive the massive construction that is being proposed for this site.


Trucks carrying construction supplies, with noise and pollution, along Highway 65, as well as the huge increase in traffic, and the large numbers of visitors and tourists who would follow, would overwhelm and destroy the Sage Grouse habitat and mating grounds, putting an end to the birds.


I understand that the DWR is funding a study to be carried out by the University of Utah on the threats to the Greater Sage Grouse populations. If there is any uncertainty, please wait until the conclusion of this study, so that your decision can be based on a sound scientific footing. There is no adequate scientific information now that would support allowing the change in designation to take place. There is only common sense which clearly dictates that the Sage Grouse habitat could not survive the construction of multiple resorts and condominiums.


The best and highest use of this land in Morgan County would be to allow it to retain the peace and beauty that Morgan County is known for.


Morgan County and Utah will continue to grow and prosper as they always have in the past – and will do this best by treasuring and preserving, not by destroying, the amazingly beautiful natural environment, which is a great blessing to all those who live in Utah.


I ask that you deny the request for a change in the designation of the land. There has been no need for a change in this designation over the past several decades, and such applications have been rejected several times in the past.


There is no need for this change now. Destroying the beautiful natural places and wild species of Utah will not make the people of Utah and Morgan County more prosperous, but instead much poorer.


Thank you for considering my comment.



A resident of Kanab, Utah

(Name withheld by request)


How to send a comment


To send your own comment, it doesn’t need to be long, a sentence or two will be fine. Please indicate whether or not you are a Utah resident, with your signature.


Please send a polite comment to Bill Cobabe, AICP, Zoning Administrator 


Phone:  801-845-4059


Photo: USFWS, in the Public Domain


To read more about this threat to the Sage Grouse, click here



  1. In the name of progress let us protect and honor the wildlife that have no where else to go but where they live. Please, do not sell their habitat for development. If humans continue to act in destructive ways toward the environment, wildlife, the Earth…we ultimately destroy ourselves, our children’s future and diminish the humanity of our species.

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