During their September 2, 2014 hearing, the Morgan County Council, in a 3-3 tie vote, declined to approve a change that might have spelled disaster for the 3,000 acre site of land that is home to two important Sage Grouse leks.
Property owners of the Yaryca site had requested that the site be re-designated from “Natural Resources – Recreation” to “Master Planned Community” – a move that would have paved the way for re-zoning and then selling the site, in an expansive plan, featuring condos and resorts, that would have entailed a massive construction project.
The development plan is not dead, and it may well resurface; but this vote, which is a victory for the Sage Grouse, has bought time, and the sense of possibility that this destructive plan may be permanently forestalled. It gives time for gathering further public awareness about the downsides of replacing wilderness with development – and the deterioration of quality of life, not just for wildlife, but for also for human beings, that always ensues.
Many opponents of the development plan spoke eloquently – among them Dr. Kirk Robinson of Western Wildlife Conservancy, Bob Brister of WildEarth Guardians, Steve Erickson of Utah Audubon Council, and Rahul Mukherjee, who has been instrumental in bringing attention to the threat to these vital Sage Grouse leks.
Many people who could not attend sent in comments, giving voice to the urgent need to preserve the wild lands of Utah. Here is one of the comments, by Dr. John Carter, of Yellowstone to Uintas Connection.
September 2, 2014
Morgan County Council
P.O Box 886 Morgan,
Re: Rezone 3,000 acre Yarca Property
To Whom it May Concern:
The Yellowstone to Uintas Connection (www.yellowstoneuintas.org) is a non-profit organization working to restore the regionally significant wildlife corridor in NE Utah that connects the Northern Rockies to the Southern Rockies. Our area in NE Utah is a critical link in the corridor as you can see in the map at right [above].
Without Counties and Private Property owners helping to protect wildlife habitat in this corridor, especially in NE Utah, it will cease to exist and important wildlife sub-populations will be isolated from each other, resulting in less genetic exchange and resistance to the forces of extinction.
Morgan County has an opportunity to provide an example of responsible management of our land, watersheds and wildlife habitat by opposing the rezone of the Yarca Property. A side benefit will be an increasing quality of life for Morgan County residents by retaining natural values and protecting its watershed as opposed to the traffic-clogged, paved-over urban areas so nearby. A second side benefit will be providing a chance for the local sage grouse population to persist, further illustrating that local governments will protect species that are at risk rather than incurring forced protection under the Endangered Species Act.
Thank you for your consideration,
Yellowstone to Uintas Connection
Box 280 South Main
Mendon, Utah 84325
Box 62 3159 Paris Canyon Rd.
Paris, Idaho, 83261
Photo: Sharon St Joan / Central Utah
Map: Courtesy of Yellowstone to Uintas Connection
To visit the website of Yellowstone to Uintas Connection, click here.