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SALT LAKE CITY — To ensure the long-term sustainability of the Green and Colorado rivers as they flow through portions of Utah, state sovereign land managers are launching a first-ever effort to craft comprehensive management plans for the waterways.
The plans affect those state-owned sovereign land sections of the rivers as they go through Uintah, Grand, Emery, Wayne, Garfield, Kane and San Juan counties. The beds of navigable waters are owned by the state but held in trust for the public.
Plans will be developed, with public input, under the purview of the Utah Department of Natural Resources' Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands.
That division is required to regulate all uses on, beneath or above the bed of the rivers, including protecting navigation, fish and wildlife habitat, aquatic beauty, public recreation and water quality.
These first-ever comprehensive management plans will also include an update of mineral leasing plans impacting Green and Colorado river resources.
During March and April, the division — assisted by contractors SWCA Environmental Consultants; CRSA architects, planning and design; and Hansen, Allen & Luce — will present information regarding the plan development process at open house meetings in each county that contains state-owned sovereign land sections of the rivers.
The open houses, all from 6 to 8 p.m., are as follows:
- Uintah County, March 27, at the Uintah County Library in Vernal
- Kane County, April 10, at the Kanab City Library in Kanab
- Garfield County April 11, at the Escalante Senior Center in Escalante
- Wayne County, April 12, at the Hanksville EMS Building in Hanksville
- San Juan County, April 17, at the San Juan County Administration Building in Monticello
- Grand County, April 18, at the Grand County High School Auditorium in Moab
- Emery County, April 19, at the John Wesley Powell Museum in Green River
All residents are encouraged to attend the public open house meeting in their county.
"Public involvement is an important part of the Green and Colorado river planning process," said project manager Laura Vernon, adding "suggestions and concerns about the rivers can help us identify issues and develop management plan objectives."
Vernon said the state developed comprehensive management plans for the Jordan and Bear rivers, two distinctly different waterways facing sharply contrasting issues because Jordan is an urban river, while the Bear River flows through a rural setting.
"It is interesting to see the different issues that come up," she said. "I suspect we will see some here."
Draft plans and a range of management actions and alternatives, in addition to an assessment of each of the river's resources, will be available for review during a second round of meetings a year from now. In the summer of 2019, those draft plans will be open for public comment.
The drafts should be finalized in December of 2019.