By Allison Jones
Executive Director, Wild Utah Project
ACTION ALERT – help us save the Henefer Sage-grouse lek!
You may be aware of some really scary news this summer in Morgan County. The County is ready to play fast and loose with a couple of the largest sage-grouse leks in the County, and indeed the most visited sage-grouse lek in the state. Behind closed doors and largely out of the public eye (apparently the Morgan County Sage-grouse Local Working Group didn’t even know about this until recently), the County is proposing to change the zoning status and enable development of nearly 3,000 acres of land, directly on top of the Pioneer Camp lek and only a mile away from the famous Henefer Divide lek. The proposed change in zoning status would move the property from “Natural Resources and Recreation” status to “Master Planned Community” status to make it available to subdivide. An LLC called Yaryca LLC currently owns the land, and is eager to maximize its profit with a proposed resort community and with as many subdivisions as possible. The process managed to get pretty far along without the conservation community getting wind of it (it is entering the second phase of the process to change the property’s zoning status). We have heard it could possibly be subdivided into over a thousand lots.
This could mean the certain demise if not outright loss of both of these sage-grouse leks (while the Henefer divide lek is a mile away, it is literally right on top of a road that will see hugely increased traffic, if not also widening, as a direct result of the proposed development up the road). While it is technically on private land, this action flies in the face of Utah’s recently adopted State Sage-grouse Conservation Plan, as both of these leks are included in a “Sage-Grouse Management Area”, which lists many provisions to safeguard leks from development and other disturbances. Not to mention that this move will also send a bad signal to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which is right now weighing whether to list the greater sage-grouse under the Endangered Species Act.
Please consider attending the hearing on this issue in Morgan County next Tuesday September 2 at 5 pm, at the Morgan County Courthouse (48 West Young Street, in Morgan). More info and agenda HERE. If you cannot make the hearing, write a quick letter voicing your opinion on whether destroying these leks and sub-dividing good sage-grouse habitat into up to a thousand parcels for home development is a good idea, considering the plight of the species range-wide and the fact that it may be on the brink of federal listing under the ESA. The state has put a LOT of money in the past few years into sage-grouse and sage-grouse habitat conservation, improvement and management, including a recent $2 million contract to Big Game Forever to work in Washington D.C. to try to forestall listing of the sage-grouse. Perhaps some of this money can be used to buy the development rights to this critical habitat and keep it safe from future sub-division. CLICK HERE to see a copy of the letter we sent to Morgan County, and send your letter to firstname.lastname@example.org
THANK YOU for speaking out for sage-grouse in northern Utah!!
TO ATTEND THE MEETING:
5 pm next Tuesday, September 2
Morgan County Courthouse
48 West Young Street, in Morgan
TO SEND AN EMAIL:
Write to: Morgan County Council
P.O Box 886
Morgan, UT 84050
Email address: email@example.com
To see a sample email: http://wildutahproject.org/about/jobs
Image: Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife / “Photographic images are the work of ODFW employees, taken during the course of the person’s official duties, and belong to the Public Domain.” / Greater Sage Grouse
To visit the website of Wild Utah Project, click here.