The Kane County Commissioners covered topics from fire preparedness to coyotes and prairie dogs at their January 28 meeting.

Commissioner Jim Matson expressed the need for hiring specialists in forest, fire, heavy fuels, fire fighting and planning in preparation to get the lands into a healthy state for the possibility of another traumatic fire season. Matson proposed advertising for consultants in these areas to serve on a part-time basis. An amount of up to $50,000 has already been allocated for this project in the 2013 budget.

Commissioner Doug Heaton talked about the State of Utah expansion to the Coyote Bounty Program from $20 to $50. The increase would be to cover additional costs to those hunters who use helicopters to shoot from the air. The commissioners decided Kane County will stay with the $20 bounty.

During the Citizen Public Input session, Bob Lecour voiced his opposition to the bounty program in regards to trapping, declaring it is a cruelty to animals. Heaton commented he was not aware that the trapping method is going on in Kane County. 

Commissioner Dirk Clayson reported on People for the Ethical Treatment for Property Owners (PETPO). It is an organization formed in Iron County and deals with protecting property rights associated with prairie dog issues. PETPO would like to create a conservation habitat area for the prairie dogs. The Utah prairie dog is on the U.S. Endangered Species List as a threatened species. Prairie dogs are not counted when they are on private property, golf courses, airports, etc. Clayson commented if they were counted, they would be off the Endangered Species List. Prairie dogs are not allowed to be removed from those private properties. In some cases, a property owner cannot get a building permit on their own property, as it would disrupt the cycle of the prairie dog.

PETPO has gone to the Five County areas asking if the counties would join in their cause. The commissioners voted to support Iron County’s efforts to restore ethical treatment for property owners by endorsing this organization.        

Clayson talked about Senator Ralph Okerlund’s letter of support for natural gas. It would cost around $14 million for the utility companies to bring a natural gas line to Kanab. There are only four cities in the state that don’t have natural gas. Kanab is one, partially due to the fact there are 7,000 residents spread out over a large area of the county. Okerlund’s bill allows for private competitive bids to be submitted, following the necessary regulatory inspections and specifications providing a more cost effective solution for the installation of utilities. The commissioners decided to pursue this issue for future consideration. 

The commissioners approved and adopted Land Use Ordinance 2013-1 and Chapters 1-15,24. They complemented the Volunteer Planning Commission for a job well done and extended a special thanks to Land Use Administrator Shannon McBride for an incredible job done in research and organization.

The commissioners were not satisfied with the franchise agreement Rocky Mountain Power submitted, and instructed Deputy County Attorney Rob Van Dyke to draft a new agreement and return it Rocky Mountain for their consideration.

An important issue was the forest management, jurisdiction and problems with the federal government. The commissioners decided they must first determine what the county’s jurisdiction is, and then enforce it. Clayson asserted the Forest Service reports to the Department of Agriculture, as the forest/timber is an agriculture crop and has to be maintained. Currently, this is not being implemented. Clayson said the commission’s goal is to try and preserve and protect our forest, reduce pollution, provide timber-harvesting jobs to aid the economy and eliminate the risk for fire. There is a joint effort between Kane County and Fredonia City Council in trying to rectify the issues with the Forest Service. 

Kathy Miles and Heidi Reidhead were appointed to the Library Board.