Comment for September 2, 2014 Sage Grouse hearing

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The Planning Commission, of Morgan County, Utah, has referred the decision as to whether to re-designate 3,000 acres of land, owned by LLC Yaryca, to the Morgan County City Council. Changing the designation, as requested, from “Natural Resources Recreation” to “Master Planned Community” would set in motion a course that would lead first to re-zoning and then to the development of the land, which would spell the end for two leks (breeding grounds) of the Greater Sage Grouse. A Public Hearing will be held on Tuesday, September 2. Here is a comment sent to the Morgan County Council. For the time and place of the meeting and for how to send a comment, please see below, at the end.

 

Morgan County Council

PO Box 886

Morgan, UT

 

 

I am writing to ask you not to change the status of the 3,000 acres of land, owned by LLC Yaryca.. The land is currently designated “Natural Resources and Recreation,” and there is consideration being given to changing the designation to “Master Planned Community.”

 

There are a number of reasons why such a change would not be in the best interests of the residents of Morgan County.

 

One) Owning property does not in any way confer the right to use the land in any way that one wishes without restrictions. This goes to the very principle of zoning that all land-owners are required to abide by. Zoning designations exist precisely because land-owners do not have the right to do whatever they wish with the land they own. The land in question was given the designation “Natural Resources and Recreation” because that was deemed to be the most appropriate use of this land – for the greater good of all the residents of Morgan County.

 

Two) According to the map at this link https://wildlife.utah.gov/uplandgame/sage-grouse/pdf/greater_sage_grouse_plan.pdf

the 3,000 acres of Yaryca land appears to fall entirely within the Rich-Morgan-Summit Sage-grouse Management Area, in the Conservation Plan for the Greater Sage-grouse in Utah. This is the plan drawn up by the State to provide extensive protection for the severely threatened Greater Sage Grouse. Many pages of this plan are devoted to how to counter threats to the Sage Grouse, and extensive descriptions are given of what constitutes danger to their leks – including buildings, construction, noise, pollution, and human activity – all of which would occur if the proposed development goes forward.

 

It is very clear from this Utah State Plan that the two Sage Grouse leks, the Pioneer Camp Lek, which lies entirely inside the Yaryca site, and the Henefer Divide lek which is located nearby on the road to the site, Highway 65, would be in grave danger from the proposed development of this land. The entire site is within a mile or so of the two leks – too close for the Sage Grouse or their leks to survive either the construction phase or the long-term human activity being proposed.

 

Would you please, during the September 2 hearing, clarify whether the Yaryca site is indeed within the Rich-Morgan-Summit Sage-grouse Management Area – and if this is the case, please clarify how destroying these leks would not run counter to the Utah plan to save the Greater Sage Grouse and their habitat.

 

Either way, the proposed development would eliminate these important Sage Grouse leks, and this would go against the stated goal, for the State of Utah, of preserving and protecting the Sage Grouse.

 

Three) The unique character and great beauty of the State of Utah is thanks to the wild, undeveloped lands of Utah. These lands are priceless assets to Utah residents. People who live in Utah value and appreciate the wilderness and the nature that surrounds them. Every city in the U.S. and in the world has been built on land that was once wilderness. And once the destruction of nature begins, it continues relentlessly – replacing trails with highways, trees with buildings, clean air with pollution, the songs of birds with the noise of traffic and large machinery. Destroying nature does not improve anyone’s life, it makes us all poorer – less healthy and less happy. The extraordinary beauty of the natural lands of Utah are a gift to be valued and protected.

 

Thank you for considering my comment.

 

Sincerely,

 

Sharon St Joan

Kanab, Utah

Coalition for American Wildbirds

https://americanwildbirds.wordpress.com/

 

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: tlake@morgan-county.net

 

Photo: Pacific Southwest Region U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service from Sacramento, US / This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license. / Male Greater Sage Grouse

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